Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Know Your Quotee

One of my Facebook friends, one of the Christ-y ones from high school, just posted a status admonishing the "Church" for failing to represent its lord properly, but used the infamous "be the change you want to see in the world" quote from Gandhi.  I wonder what she thought she would accomplish from her little blurb, barely a hundred characters.  Did she really think someone would read it and be changed somehow?  Also, why on earth is she mixing religious traditions when her goal is to strengthen one against outside influence?  Did she even realize what she was doing?  Does she even know who Gandhi is?

High school, for me, as I'm sure it is for most people, was a love-hate experience.  As much as I resented the assumptions about religious and political ideas (by everyone, ironically, except the campus pastor), I genuinely loved just about everyone I went to school with.  We were a small group, most of whom had known each other since early elementary school, and pretty tight-knit.  Sometimes I miss that.  Other times I look back at those years with surprise and relief that I escaped with my sanity intact.

It was a very religious school.  I honestly don't think there was any subject where some religious aspect didn't come up at some point, which could be either humorous, poignant, or ridiculous, depending on the situation.  My math teacher once did a proof to demonstrate how God=math and, though I don't remember how it went now, I remember it being pretty great at the time.  On the other hand, my Spanish teacher once went on a rant about how sheltered we were in the Midwest and how we had no idea about the dangers of the gay culture running rampant in California; a rant inspired by a male student wearing a pink t-shirt.  I am dead serious.

My point is that, when religion is discussed so carelessly by your authority figures, it's easy to get lost.  Sure, my friends and I didn't take our Spanish teach seriously, but she had access to much younger students, and who knows what all she said to them or how they took it.  It's all very sketchy business, and it fills me with a moltov cocktail sense of dread, nostalgia, and amusement to check up on the place occasionally and see what's going on.


It's just occured to me that I started this over someone's Facebook status, then proceeded down quite the little rabbit trail.  Oh well.  What I really didn't like about that status is that she used an avid Hindu to make her Christian point, since I'm guessing that church revival isn't quite what he had in mind when he said those words.  That line in particular gets quoted around so much that it's pretty much lost all meaning, which is unfortunate.

Also, Gandhi was involved with some interesting business involving naked ladies during his later years, which I'm not sure the quoter in question would approve of.

Quotes are all too often heavily abused.  If you read or hear something and it resonates with you, that's fine, but if you're just in the mood to say something quippy about love so you type "love" in your Google search to find a whole website full of love quotes from which you select one knowing nothing about the person who said it or the context in which it was said, you do a diservice to both yourself and the quotee.  Plus, why do you need to use someone else's words all the time?  Your own words are valuable.  You should use them, though you should be carefull of how and when, lest you end up like my old Spanish teacher.

I didn't think I was going to be able to connect all this stuff together, but behold!

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