Shades of Grey

Not of the “fifty” variety, sorry.  Maybe that will be an appropriate topic in the far distant future, but not today.

Over the past few days, my country has been in the throes of a great deal of civil unrest.  It was precipitated by a very unfortunate event in Minneapolis.  I don’t really want to talk about that, as there’s nothing productive that can come from it.  Instead, I want to tell some of my personal story.

I was raised in a very small, but very controlling religious cult.  They controlled every aspect of our lives, and the “community” that they created was pretty much my entire life for my entire childhood.  Because of that, I have a very unique background that is, and was, maybe shared by about 250,000 people around the entire world.

I know about one hundred songs, almost by heart, that no one else knows, and they have a very specific emotional context to me that no one else knows about.  I was taught very damaging things that few others were, and they have colored my worldview so deeply that I haven’t been able to live a truly “normal” life, ever.  No one understands my point of view, no one understands my perspective, no one understands my personal traumas (of which there are many), and no one understands my “lived experiences”.

And there is a large group of people out there who don’t care, because my skin is a certain color.  It doesn’t matter how much I have suffered, and am suffering, in life.  It doesn’t matter my background.  Since I am a certain skin color, and not another skin color, I’m immediately lumped in with every one else who is my skin color.  That is, by the way, the very definition of racism.  Or, at least, the only definition I’ll accept.

Over the years, I have grown to accept the fact that few people will see the world as I do, and even take a certain sense of value out of the fact that since my perspectives are so different, I have something very unique to offer the world.  I haven’t yet figured out how to actually offer it yet, but my experiences make me. me.  I could choose to be a “victim” and decide that since my church and family has, in a very real way, ruined my life, that I’ll just spend the rest of my life making sure that everyone else knows it, and trying my hardest to make those who destroyed me feel guilty, or pay in another way.  Or I could just accept the fact that no one else will ever understand my point of view, that my experiences are unique, and perhaps that makes me a unique person who can make an impact on the world in my own way.

Life is hard for me, very hard, in a way that even the people I interact with on a daily basis do not and cannot understand.  Just because I don’t share a particular set of problems (and yes, those of other races or cultures have their own unique set of problems) doesn’t mean I don’t share another, equally troublesome, set of problems.  My skin color does not define me.  My culture, and my experiences, are what define me.  As well as my decisions.

And this is why I am staying mostly silent on much of the stuff going on around me right now.  I don’t feel guilty, I don’t feel ashamed, I don’t feel as if I owe anyone anything.  I don’t feel a responsibility to atone for others, nor do I feel a responsibility to do anything but be my own unique self, and contribute to the world what I am able.  The rest of it, will have to work out in its own way.

And that is, God willing, all I will ever say here on that topic.