Wednesday, May 08, 2002

The Shirt

I don't know why I put the shirt on, I wasn't trying to make a statement. I just needed something to cover my upper body because, you know, it's a bit inappropriate to go to work topless, even for a guy. I woke up this morning, minding my own business, kissed my wife good-bye as she left for work, and then decided to get dressed. Went into the laundry room and stooped over the clean laundry basket. There was a shirt on top of the pile, a deep green color. I figured it would go well with the jean shorts I was already wearing. I picked it up out of the basket and put it on.

About two months ago, I wore this same shirt when I was visiting my grandparents back home in New York City. Didn't think much about it then either, but my grandfather pulled me over to the side later in the day and told me to be careful when I wore this shirt.

You see, the shirt says Roman Catholic on it.

My grandfather told me that when he was younger, he used to have to hide his crucifix (or not wear it at all) because if people caught wind of the fact that he was Catholic he could expect to either get the crummiest job in the company or suddenly find his position "closed". Of course I thought the times had changed, I mean come-on, with all the political correctness nowadays, no one is going to target Catholics right? They're the biggest single "voting bloc" in the United States, certainly we have some clout and respect right?

Guess not. I never expected that when I walked out my front door this morning that I was about to be subjected to verbal abuse, all because of those two words, Roman Catholic, on the shirt I was wearing.

So, you proud of your pedophiles?

So, you want to be a child abuser yourself?

What's it like to confess your sins to a child molester?

And it's not even noon yet. I don't know if I've just been exposed to discrimination or not. I'm white and I'm male, which pretty much rules me out of most discriminatory activity. To tell you the truth, I certainly do feel discriminated against, and the saddest part about it is the fact that I actually know all the people who made those comments. It wasn't some jane or joe on the street tossing a barb my way, these are people I work with everyday and considered friends.

If I have ever acted in such a derogatory manner to another person, I apologize. I have now been on the other side of the fence, and I do not like it here. Perhaps there is a reason I put this shirt on this morning. Perhaps it was intended for me to feel the pain of countless others who endure this everyday of their lives, and to attach their suffering to mine and offer all of it up to God the Almighty, for the forgiveness of sins and mercy for the world. A world that seems everyday, to need it more and more.

At least I can take the shirt off, most everyone else doesn't have that option.

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