Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Brown Hair Effect

I know some of you have heard me talk about it before, but this morning has brought it anew to my mind and I wanted to write about it.

My first night in Black Mountain was two years ago this coming November. I was staying with some friends and their husky in a small one-bedroom apartment, and the night I got there, they were going out to a local brewery to hear a reggae band and celebrate a friend's birthday. When we got there they showed me around the bar/brewery for a few minutes and then got caught up in their friend's special night, leaving me to fend for myself. It gave me some time to take in my surroundings and contemplate where I was and a strange sensation that was overcoming me. It was that night that I saw for the first time, The Brown Hair Effect.

As I surveyed the people milling around the bar waiting for the band to start, and then as the band began playing those same people taking to the dance floor in a crowded kaleidoscope of sweat and hair and skin, I saw an open sense of being and togetherness that was so uniquely genuine. There were people of every color, clothes of every fashion, shoes of every origin (or not even there in some cases), and hair of every length, shape, style and yes, every color. But despite the sharp clashing of class and appearance, there was no judging. There was no sense or speech of, "I accept you even though you have dreads," or, "I accept you even though you're gay," or, "I accept you even though your clothes aren't new," and so many other things we all do in normal life. 

Acceptance is not a bad thing. On the contrary, accepting and acceptance of people different than ourselves --whether in looks or culture or religion or lifestyle or social class-- is actually a very loving thing to do and something we should all strive for. To drop some Jesus on you for a second, it's what He did and strives for all of us to do everyday. But at the same time, acceptance comes with a (usually unspoken) statement that whoever or whatever you are accepting is different than yourself. And in spite of that difference, you are willing to show love to them.   

What I would challenge and question though, a feeling I experienced that first night in Black Mountain, is why do we feel the need to show, "acceptance" if, "acceptance" also means, "I see you as different than myself."???

Brown hair is the most common hair color in the world. As such, when we see that hair color, most people are not inclined to say, "I accept you even though you have brown hair." It's so commonplace that it's not viewed as something to accept or not accept, rather, it's just something that is there and no other recognition needs to takes place. What if we were to live in that frame-of-mind in all things and with all people? What if we could live in a world where there was no need to see differences in people's clothes or hair or choice of mates or friends or cars or tax returns? What if those things didn't trigger something in us that they were different somehow causing in return a choice to accept or not accept them? What would a world like that look like? What if we could live inside The Brown Hair Effect?

Questions like those would cause an immediate response from my Dad if he were still alive. (He was always a good balance to my other-worldly questioning.) He would probably answer something like, differences help keep us alive, they show us how good or bad our own lives are, and in the spiritual realm, differences help us know how to pray for those around us. And if my Dad responded along those lines, I couldn't argue with him. But what I could argue, is that our entire lives do not need to be consumed looking for differences. We can choose to not even see dreads in someones hair, or their old car, or their choice of religion, or anything else. Those things can be there, but we don't have to live in the judgmental state that we are above their choices and as such are entitled to lord over them --even in our own minds-- a state-of-mind that states we are the ones who get to choose if they are acceptable to us or not.

Does a person with brown hair never make comment or discussion about their hair color? Of course they do. But when that happens they are inviting us into their existence and inviting us to make opinions. The same can be said for religion, sexual orientation, living situations, dietary differences, and so many other things in life. I may not agree with someones choices in those areas, but that shouldn't change the way I accept them as humans. If I wish to live the way I want to live then that entitles them to do the same without any, "acceptance" on my part. (As a side note, there are times when love calls for reprimand of behavior, but I greatly doubt very much of how we treat or view others on a daily basis fits into that category.)

Have I figured out how to live in such a way as to not see differences in others? No, sadly, I have not. But it is something I'm working on and I strive for it to be the way I see people. I've had many friends tell me, including one of the friends I stayed with that first visit to Black Mountain, that I am a judgmental person. There is no lie or misrepresentation in that statement. Frankly, I hate that about myself. I want to live in The Brown Hair Effect with everyone I come in contact with. I have no way of knowing someones background or where their lives are at in that moment, so how arrogant it is of me to say I have any right to accept them or not? That's just rude. That's just selfish. I want to be known as a loving human to all other humans in my life. That is my goal. That is my desire.



Blogger Adrienne said...

No comments... really? I'm not intelligent to pipe up, but interesting!

I like thinking people see me as unique from others, but maybe that's cause I'm pretty mainstream with white skin and brown hair and eyes.

12:51 AM  

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