Tonight Liz and I went to see a presentation by Ahmad Hijazi from Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, a village in Israel working toward a vision of peace. At one point, he talked about changing the paradigm of oppressor/oppressed to oppressor/obeyer (as in, allowing that the oppressed has some agency) and it spoke to my condition.
During dinner before the presentation, we were talking about pumpkin pie, which I love, and I told Liz that I love pumpkin pie with real vanilla ice cream. Then I remembered enjoying the Cool Whip my mother put on on pumpkin pie. She kept hers in the freezer and I'd eat it right out of the ice box, frozen like ice cream made from marshmallows. So light and sweet.
But at some point in my adult life, I learned that there was something wrong with me if I liked Cool Whip. So I began to disdain it as inferior to things like whipped cream and 'real' ice cream.
My mother and society taught me to hold in high esteem middle class culture and to scorn working class culture. And I bought into the system heart, mind and soul.
When I came to Friends, I was ready, willing, and able to learn so much more disdain than I'd ever learned.
Here's a sampling of what I specifically learned from Friends to hold in contempt:
Not having at least an undergraduate degree
Not trying to get at least an undergraduate degree
Shopping at Wal-Mart or Sam's Club
Eating non-organic foods
Buying or wearing clothes made in sweat-shops
Driving a car that guzzles gas and emits pollution
Bringing fried chicken to potluck
Joining the military
Buying books from Amazon.com instead of a local bookstore
Dressing up for Quaker events
Wearing deodorant with aluminum
Telling the truth to someone's face
Speaking with 'broken' grammar
Writing with same
Now before you get all your undies in a bunch and think that I'm criticizing these beliefs, I'm not. I, in fact, drive a Prius and bike when I can. I wear natural deodorant. I'm getting a BA. I correct people when they say 'further' but they mean 'farther'.
Some might say a selection of the values above are specifically Quaker or come out of our testimonies. But I bet if you show this list to a Unitarian or any other lefty, they'd agree with it as a list of things to disdain; Unitarians and the left in general are also pretty middle- and owning-class homogeneous.
What exactly are we saying to a newcomer if we scowl at them when they ask if we watched the most recent Survivor episode? Or if we sneer when they invite us to a bar for a drink? Or if we tease someone who has dressed up for Meeting?
Perhaps it's our scorn for some of these things (and not the practice of simplifying our lives or making our lives match our values) that keeps our Meetings class-homogeneous.
I'd like to unlearn my scorn and learn how to value the gifts and culture of my working class upbringing. Essentially, I'd like to stop obeying.
I just don't know if I'll try Cool Whip again.