To the bellowing Christian man on the subway:
I will keep this brief because I am not a deeply religious person and do not particularly enjoy dwelling on religion-based skirmishes. I entirely respect the core ideas of your speech or presentation or whatever that display on the subway was; I understand the positive value of spreading love, loving the stranger beside you, replacing fear and distrust with love and kindness–all of that fantastic amo(u)r-based stuff that embodies much of Christ’s teachings. However, your presentation of these fine ideals was a bit lacking and a bit disturbing.
Why would you, a man preaching love, trust and unity, think it best to spread these warm values to others by shouting–and spittle-projecting fragrant saliva–into the faces of people on a muggy, urine-scented metro car chock-full of sleepy human sardines? Maybe I’m just ignorant and a dunce, but your assailing screamed message of “WHY DON’T Y’ALL TRUST ME? I’M JUST LIKE YOU, AND YOU, AND YOU! F**K THIS BULLSH*T–LOOK AT ME WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU”
And, “CHRIST PREACHED LOVE, NOT HATE! DON’T HATE–HEY YEAH HEY, I’M TALKING YOU YOU, DON’T HATE, BROTHER! YOU THINK YOU KNOW BETTER THAN JESUS?!”
And, “LOOK AT THIS GUY–RUDE AS SH*T! WON’T LOOK AT ME BECAUSE OF THE COLOR OF MY SKIN, BECAUSE OF MY CLOTHES, BECAUSE HE DOESN’T THINK WE’RE EQUAL–WELL CHRIST HAS SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT THAT. LOVE, PEOPLE, LOVE!!”
Etcetcetcetcetcetcetcetcetcetcetcetcetc This went on and on for the duration of my 15 minute commute uptown. I was trying to drown out the freaky preaching with my headphones and some music, but it was simply impossible, and soon it became a very awkward because no matter what song I played, I would watch you frothing and shrieking about love, making everyone entirely uncomfortable, and the whole scene would turn into a demented music video. Me, observing-but-trying-not-to-observe you, jabbing your finger into people’s closed off, worn out faces, and spitting on them (by accident, I’m hoping), to the narrative of Ke$ha and Birdman was unsettling. More unsettling, though, were your words of love, poisoned with anger and aggression. Rather than uniting us, reminding us of our “oneness,” you seemed to be blaming us all, accusing us of, what exactly, I’m not quite certain. Maybe you were accusing us of being impious fools who had forsaken Christ, Christianity and his teachings? Maybe you were blaming us for not jumping with enthusiasm to join your roaring, vociferous ranks. Or maybe the reasons were more internal, more personal. Whatever the case may be, your performance did nothing to heighten my sense of God, Christ and love in humanity. It made a tight-squeezed, smelly journey reek even more–not in the physical sense, but in the twisted values, corrupted love, warped Christianity sense.
As I mentioned, I’m not a particularly prayerful, churchgoing gal; I am a non-partisan Switzerland when it comes to religious matters. But seeing this kind of thing always upsets me a bit because I think, in a way, that it demonstrates right up close and personal the way that so many religions and their deep-down, fundamental values, which are good and can be shared by all regardless of individual faith, are cheapened and made to look foolish, crooked and hypocritical. In our inner, innnnnnnner depths, I like to think that we all essentially believe and are invested in the same thing, the same love, the same harmony, the same humanity–and we wrap all of these good things up, call this glimmering bundle God, and then proceed to add our own unique rules, interpretations, cultures, histories, etc to form hundreds of different “Gods,” hundreds of different creeds, sects, squabbles, quarrels, wars. And we lose sight of what is real, what is good, what we actually believe, and why we believe it. We forget about the real Faith, Humanity and Love, and we replace them with “faith,” “humanity” and “love”–phony tools, used to manipulate, to blame, to influence, to control, to falsify that which is real and pure.
I realize now that I’ve unleashed a tide of rambles and would like to draw this to a close by thanking you, subway screecher (I replaced “preacher” with screecher because I decided that it would be wrong to insinuate that what you were doing was preaching). I didn’t agree with much your presentation of love/Christianity on the train, but you made an impact on me, nonetheless. When I started writing this response, I’d planned to make it funny, highlighting all of the flying spittle, and the angry, suited man who attempted to use an umbrella as a barricade between himself and the showering verbal onslaught–stuff along those lines. That didn’t feel quite right, it so happens. So, thank you kindly Mr. Screecher, for inspiring me to write about something a little more serious–and not to mock it, as I very often do when it comes to the purportedly “serious matters” of life.
Good luck to you, Mr. Screecher Preacher. I hope that one day you find the love of which you spoke and of which you attempted to make us all aware, however furious and troubling to the ear your tactics may have been.