LOOKING IN THE MIRROR OF BIAS

Those of us on the liberal side of the social and political spectrum like to think of ourselves as open-minded, which means the times we exhibit flashes of bigotry can be especially painful.

First off, we’re blind to it. Not us, right? But we do.

And sometimes we do it to each other.

An example comes in the gold cross a young woman decided to wear. She’s nothing along the lines of a Fundamentalist or even a committed believer, but she liked her grandmother’s jewelry and this particular piece. Difficult, though, was her experience of the reactions from her fellow college students and faculty, starting with their physical motion a step backward. Literally.

There were words that would not dare be said to Jews or Muslims or ethnic groups of any stripe – and assumptions that simply did not fit. In fact, there’s a presumption of right-wing positions accompanying an ignorance of the social-justice dimensions of other Christian communities and their actions. And there’s nothing of the nuanced theology that moves beyond the cartoonish criticisms we often hear.

For the record, Quaker tradition long frowned on any jewelry whatsoever as superfluous and vain. But I’m not wearing the distinctive Plain clothing of Quaker history, either. Now how would they react to that?

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