PS Modern Day Leprosy

PS Modern Day Leprosy


Unfortunately, society today use
separation to isolate group of people, cultures or subcultures that it can’t
handle. As a result of this separation the individual or group can feel “unclean.” I was in this unclean state for years
when I was growing up, wrestling with my sexuality and feeling
“separate from” everyone else. Living in this separated state, I
unconsciously embraced all the erroneous notions that religion and society imposed, and I could not accept the goodness that
was mine. from the very beginning. I could not
function effectively within society because I was
so attached to my separateness from it. Then there are the divisions within groups or subcultures. Malcolm Westfield, a
therapist who is African-American, provides a good example of those divisions. He once told me, “if you are of black
heritage but your skin color is not black enough
you are not acceptable in the eyes of the black community.” Along
religious lines I could use the same rationale: If you are not of this denomination or that denomination and that denomination can be Christian or Jewish or Muslim, you are not acceptable. Jews seem to define themselves by how they are different from other
Jews in terms of denomination or ritual observance, as do the Muslims, as do fundamentalist Christians versus the more liberal Christian denominations. If you do not believe this way or that
way, there is something wrong with you, and the
implication is that you are not acceptable. I wonder sometimes if society and religion have gone to such
extremes that they define and separate us by our differences, losing sight of the humanness that we
all have in common. Have we inadvertently created what the
Torah calls a “tza-ra-at,” a leprosy, which, if left unchecked, can only continue to fester? Any experienced that reinforces differences and makes us feel unacceptable is what really becomes
unclean an infected in our lives. There have been
responses from some cultures to instill pride for being the people we are. Black Pride and Gay Pride are two such
examples. While it is wonderful to exult in our
differences, that diversity will only work in our
favor when we take pride in our uniqueness at
the same time we emphasize the humanness that threads us all together. Taking pride in our differences lets us
stand with dignity. Yet if we remain separated from each
other… aren’t we still standing on the sidelines alone? I think the emphasis has to start with the goodness and value of each individual. Society’s approach to the individual’s
place in community has become selective rather than inclusive, and as a result
does not embrace those values. Programs that cut across lines of
religion, sexual orientation, and gender are a start. With continued emphasis on what unites
us, and on listening to and affirming each other, we can begin to see that what we think
our lines of separation are really spokes stemming from the same
wheel, the wheel of an integrated community.

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