We all hold ourselves up to these standards and we create our own standards as well. We look out into a huge crowd and we see stereotypes floating in the air, hovering over groups, individuals, and clusters of people. We tell others that not only do they need to meet our personal standards but they must also fit their stereotype. Depending on the community we find ourselves in, various groups or stereotyped clusters are praised, others condemned, others just outright neglected. You look over and to your right you have the “God squad” and to the left you have the partiers. But what happens when you find yourself caught in the middle? When you aren’t preachy enough for the “God squad” and you aren’t party enough for the partiers? We are left to forge our way through a crowd, not quite belonging to either extreme and seemingly alone in our life boat.
The irony lies in that each extreme patronizes the other. The partiers sneer at those who are religious and the practicing religious clusters “tsk’s” at the partiers. But the reality is that neither is right, because when boiling it down, both groups are doing the exact same thing. Both groups find themselves superior in some way over the other, both see that their “way” is better, and both are hopelessly consumed by image. The partiers love that their public image is connected to what they like to do in the same way the those who are religious are connected to their stereotype as well. Yet both are judging the other.
So here we are, left with a sea with two shores, but what about the lifeboats in between? Why can’t we all just drift to the center, aloof and complacent, showing kindness where kindness is due and extending compassion to everyone despite their stereotype, their preference of shoreline, nor their group or cluster they associate with. And those standards? Well, with the passing of time water breaks them down, grain by grain, hopefully leaving us with something bare and vulnerable left out in the open sea air. It’s not easy to push off from the shore, I never said it was. But imagine what could happen if the standards were washed away, and the stereotypes pushed to the side.