… except there isn’t, there’s no one just like you, everyone is different, unique, even twins. And yet … so many things drive us towards similarity, a house, a partner, 2.4 children. That doesn’t sum up everyone, but then those who are single, or who have no children are a little strange, those without a car, except those who live in London. Fashion has us wearing the same as other people, we buy our underwear at M&S or, if we’re different, Agent Provocateur, along with lots of other people who are similar to us. In school no teenager wants to stick out, one of the worst things is to be different, odd, wearing hand-me-downs or something which is strangely different.
All very superficial, but then there are other superficial things that cause, or have caused, great turmoil in society – not getting married (e.g. witches), not eating pork or avoiding alcohol, wearing clothes commonly worn by the opposite sex, finding the same sex attractive, being a different colour, coming from a different country (though many of us do ultimately). For those who are older, signs which say ‘No Blacks, No Irish’. You’re not like us, you’re odd, you’re a threat (perhaps we can admit that there aren’t that many of you but you’re taking over). Also from another era, ‘Over here, stealing our women.’ Why do we think that we own things, or people, that don’t belong to us, or the intangible things which have developed over time, but somehow we want to be preserved like listed buildings – culture, warm beer (everyone’s drinking cold beer at home and the pubs are closing), the Church of England (though we don’t want to go there).
Scapegoating and stereotyping, the scapegoat was sent out into the wilderness (the place of evil) with the sins of the people on it. The scapegoat is a myth or a metaphor, but it often becomes a terrible reality, with awful distressing karmic irony those who gave us the concept of the scapegoat became the scapegoat of ‘Christian’ Europe (or the appalling ‘Christendom’ – Christendoom more like!). Christendom was another terrible thing that worked on sameness, a whole society, culture and empire where people had to be the same, no pagans, heretics and witches (there probably weren’t any witches, just women, people like anyone else, with a superficial gender difference, just think of the scapegoating, past and present and future, no doubt, which means we need International Women’s Day, grrr!), no Jews, no gays. Until Martin Luther thought differently, he wasn’t the first, though some of his predecessors had been executed for being different. He was a kind of (flawed) superhero, he spoke up for difference, nailed his declaration of difference to the cathedral door. He still had a problem with those who were different – Jews and ‘Turks’. His contemporaries were the same, Calvin burnt those who disagreed with him.
The Church isn’t doing this any more, it is not big or powerful enough, thank God!, but just think what it would do if it still had power. There would be no Sunday Trading or civil partnerships and we can see how it reacts to equal marriage, except for the Quakers. But then we have secular conformity, which is where I started, best not to be too religious, or too odd, and people still aren’t happy with the ‘Turks’, either those who share their religion or the country that wants to join the EU. Maybe Christendom has never gone away, its hold over people is too strong, suddenly we want to start defining Europe in Christian terms (as if Islam was never part of it), we want to nail our Christian colours to the racist mast by saying that those who are religiously or ethnically different don’t belong, they are a threat to our ‘Christian heritage’. Unexpected perhaps, they are hardly Christian, though Christians were once (some still are) like them. QED, sadly. Let’s embrace our difference and those who are different, let’s all be different together.