Let me start by being clear.
Under no circumstances do I feel anyone should have the right to make comments about the way another person looks, dresses, parents, expresses their indignation at injustice or [insert the next shaming hot topic here].
It’s not acceptable in a public space or forum, behind that person’s back in the company of friends or strangers or even to that person’s face.
Recently, I read a blog about a woman who felt shamed by another woman because she made a less-than-thrilled facial expression at the noises the blogger’s children were making in a checkout line.
Now I wasn’t in that grocery store. Maybe that grouchy shopper was, in fact, trying to shame the mother. But as I read the blog, I couldn’t help but feel our shame indignation is getting a little out of control.
A woman made a face you didn’t like in the checkout line?
Maybe that woman just wanted to get her groceries and get on with her life. Maybe she wasn’t having her best day.
[bctt tweet=”Let’s understand that other people’s lives are also as complex and challenging as our own are.”]
Recently, a friend and I were having lunch at a vegan restaurant. We were seated next to a table of people who seemed to be trying the cuisine for the first time at the urging of their friend.
One of the diners ribbed the vegan friend by thanking him for bringing them to try his “weird diet.” The others laughed as they continued to enjoy their tofu and sweet potatoes and almond stir fry.
But another woman in the restaurant wasn’t having it.
She approached the strangers and told them their comments were disrespectful. How dare they come into a vegan space and mock the cuisine, she said. The woman left the restaurant, and we all sat there in dumbfounded silence.
The man who made the comment called the chef over to apologize, but the only person who seemed offended was the woman who tried to shame them.
A table of people felt confused and awkward – not ashamed or repentant. Calling them out for “vegan shaming” helped no one.
It’s awesome that our culture has begun important conversations about the way we interact with each other. It’s awesome that we want to be sensitive to our diverse cultural backgrounds.
But I wonder if these conversations could use a dose of Paul’s advice–not just to speak the truth–but to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
Maybe one day we’ll live in a world where no one makes grouchy faces in grocery stores and vegan dining is as familiar as hot dogs and cheese fries.
[bctt tweet=”But until then, let’s try a little patience with one another.”]
But until then, let’s try a little patience with one another. Let’s not turn every wayward glance and passing comment into a battleground. Let’s understand that other people’s lives are also as complex and challenging as our own are.
Let’s show each other the grace we want to be shown on our own bad days.
Sarah Carson is associate editor for Gather magazine.