Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Visible Minority

My husband introduced me to the term “visible minority” this morning. In the ever increasing battle to find a term to describe someone from an ethnic minority background that doesn’t offend someone, someone else has come up with the term “visible minority”. I wonder if it was a visibly minor person that did so, or was it a member of the “visible majority” (that’s everyone who isn’t a visible minority) who inflicted it upon them.

I asked the husband whether that meant that there was an invisible minority or an invisible majority for that matter. I expected a mocking answer along the lines of “That’s taking it too far, don’t be so daft.” The expected answer didn’t come. He answered in the affirmative. The invisible minority or majority comprises of the non-observable details that you don’t catch at first glance like left handedness, or right handedness, or some such other invisible quality.

So because I am Caucasian I am part of the visible majority and because I am right handed I am part of the invisible majority. However, I wear glasses so I also belong to the invisible minority (although my glasses are very visible). A left handed Indian gentleman would be part of the visible minority and the invisible minority.

I can only think of one person who would fit into all four categories at the same time – Superman. As Clark Kent he is Caucasian and righted handed – visible and invisible majority, but as Superman he is from a different planet so that definitely makes him visible minority and he is allergic to Kryptonite which makes him invisible minority.

The Pope in his message to folk in Glasgow, and folk in London was talking about an invisible minority – nothing to do with being right handed or left handed or allergic to Kryptonite – he was talking about the need for Christians to make a stand for their faith. There are too many of us hiding behind Bibles and hymn books and keeping our heads below the pews. We have become invisible. We chose not to stand up because it is the safer option. The world without the contribution of people with a vital and vibrant faith life has lost something said the Pope. And I agree.

Fiona Phillips is not of the same mind. I was reading her column in the Daily Mirror this morning. She doesn’t often resort to clichés and generalisations, but she did it today. She was commenting on the Pope’s visit and it wasn’t positive. She trundled out the old chestnut that religion is the cause of wars. Roman Catholic priests were all tarred with the paedophile brush, and women continue to be denied access into the hierarchy of church structure. It is lazy journalism.

Nothing is ever said to counter balance such a negative contribution. Nothing is said about Wilberforce who campaigned against slavery, or Shaftsbury who got children out of mines and mills all around Britain – both Christians. Mother Teresa in Calcutta, serving the poor that everyone else trampled on? Christian! Desmond Tutu speaking out against apartheid in South Africa? Christian! Oscar Romero in El Salvador taking on the corrupt governments? Christian!

War is about politics and greed and grabbing something that doesn’t belong to you. I wouldn’t say that Christian hands here are not dirty – but not all wars have religion at the heart. You might dress it up in religious garb to get support – but the heart of it is not religious at all.

Fiona ends with the line of treating other people the way you would like to be treated and how she didn’t learn it from reading a Bible – as if it wasn’t in there. It is there – and something similar to it is in every major world religions’ holy book

Sorry…I am ranting. But I am very cross with people that spew stuff out of their mouths that has very little balance contained in it.

So I guess that all goes to show that I am taking the Pope’s words on board and becoming a very visible minority on the question of faith. (minority? I don’t think so? Not with God standing beside me!)

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