Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Silly Bigotries

Church leaders [in the 1780s] saw theaters as competition with the kind of indoctrination they provided. Laws were passed in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island banning the performance of plays. Preachers spoke of theaters as 'the Devil's Synagogues,' places where fabricated human emotions were on display. The contempt continued into the nineteenth century, a time in which many religious leaders forbade dancing in public. Acting was considered an even viler form of expression, one step down from public drunkenness. - Finding Oz by Evan I. Schwartz

We read those words today and think how pedestrian, how silly, how deluded were those ancestors of ours. Banning theater seems so ridiculous as we think back from our place in the 21st century. Yet while plays were being banned as works of satan, there was also slavery; women couldn't vote - well you know the list.

Fast forward to the 60's and coalesce the civil rights movement, the women's rights movement and the anti-war vietnam protests. One might have thought that the baby boomer generation would have swept away all forms of prejudice as they aged through the society and took control of the means of production and the direction of zeitgeist. But no, it has been left to the children and grandchildren of the boomers to put down prejudice against homosexuals, hispanics and political independents. As the boomers die off, so too will those lingering pockets of prejudice and injustice.

But before the Gen. X and Gen. Y members get too smug, I have to wonder what lingering anthropocentric chauvinisms the Millennials will have to step up to extinguish. Will they be the ones to finally address environmental degradation? What lingering discriminations will they put to rest? And what narrow-mindedness will today's youth carry to their graves?

The good news is that we seem to be evolving in the right direction. Each generation does seem to be shedding the blind hatreds and unfounded fears of their elders. Want to accelerate the process - it might be as simple as watching what your kids do and emulating them.

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