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A Bird, a Plane, or a Jew?
(Why I Do the Dishes)
Fraternities are often dubbed, "toxic-masculinity date-rape factories," so I sometimes try to douse that stereotype by "admitting" I was in one, as I think a lot of them help young boys develop trust and teamwork, soft skills the matriarchy wants and needs.
I'm obviously not for any group that encourages anything toxic (OK, I lied: I support nuclear energy), but if you insist that frats (or sororities) foster "bad adolescent behavior," I won’t join you on that (or any other) binary, nuance-free journey.
I hate that I felt compelled to defend myself against vitriolic trolls, out to label me or tell me I'm a bad person, but what I can say? It's 2023 and I'm living in a world that has mean names for everyone, while also demanding we “take sides, or else!"
I hate this shit. I really, truly do. And I've loathed it for as long as I can remember, because this ‘Us & Them’ crap didn't start or even accelerate with social media. It changed, sure, but everything we’re seeing occurs in every tribe. It’s a human thing.
I’ve been to 30+ countries and lived in 28 houses in 10 states with hundreds of housemates, and no matter where I go, the same thing happens every time: People get obsessed with group-drama and soon demand each member "take a side, or else."
Ergo, drama, gossip, and finger-pointing are universal and precede race, sexual-orientation, gender, and religion, yet people insist on pretending this isn't true. They say our problems arise from that stuff. But they don't. This happens in every group.
Human drama only occurs because humans produce and participate in it.
Which brings me to this week's topic, something I've never wanted to write about and have tried to avoid, but now feel compelled to discuss. However, before I get into it, I want to make it clear that if you're offended, it's because you want to be. It’s a choice.
Did you know I'm a Jew? Don't worry, it's not a trick question, but also, it's totally a trick question. Yup. Thanks to millennia of hearsay drama that makes no sense to anyone, we still call people Jews, even though it’s the most confusing label of all time.
Look! Over there! Is it a bird...? A plane...? No! It's a Jew! And you can tell because Jews are (choose wisely): A) a religion B) a race C) a culture D) some of these E) all of these F) none of these or G) folks with horns who run Hollywood and work for Satan.
I hope you picked G, but if you didn't, I forgive you (Kanye joke goes here). Just kidding. The right answer is H) I don't care which one you picked, because I only have one request: Why do I have to be any of those, and can I please be left alone?
I get it. I'm not wired like a lot of other humans. I didn't accept this until I started really putting myself out there, but now I see how weird I am, because no matter what happens to me or anyone else, I still can't buy into any of this tribal, human bullshit.
It's not that I'm beyond human. It's the opposite. I'm so human I can't believe any of the myopic, simplistic labels society has shoved my nose into all my life. You can tell me I’m this or that, and you’re that or this, but all I see is consciousness and a body.
Back to me, The Jew. Ever since I was a kid, I've been told weird things about myself by others that still sound silly to me. Facts Like "I'm American," "I'm a Jew," or “I'm from Cuba" (Non-Americans, this is a weird game Americans play. DM me for clarity).
But it's all very fake to me. I have a penis, but that doesn't make me sexist, and I have DNA that tells a story, but it doesn't make me partial to one helix over another. That's inane. So call me a Jew if you want, but it won't tell you anything about who I really am.
When a person drops all pretenses and performativity, and really thinks about what makes them happy, they do not give a flying f*** about identity politics. I think identity-driven humans are deluded by an instinctual, earnest quest for intimacy.
Which makes total sense. Because intimacy is confusing.
I know I’m contradicting the rules of virtue signaling, but none of us are Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, gay, straight, bi, queer, cis, non-binary, male, female, or even human when we feel loved (Please note that ‘feeling loved’ is not the same as ‘being in-love.’)
Intimacy is the pinnacle of life, and no one who has it would trade it for money, fame, sex, drugs, or any other distraction. And the more I experiment giving it to everyone, even when I’m scared to, the more I grok how this is the only solution to human drama.
My fraternity was surprisingly similar to the other 27 co-ed houses I lived in. The biggest source of conflict was the same in both. It was always the dishes, and not in the metaphorical marriage way. It was weird. Humans, apparently, hate doing dishes!
I was 19 when I first encountered this issue, but I came up with a solution that I've used in every house since, and it always works. I just do all the dishes. Yup. When I see a dish in a sink, I wash it. And I love doing this, because it undermines conflict.
In conclusion, I’m not a Jew, because my only allegiance is to ‘practicing blind intimacy.’ Oddly enough, my position seems to offend a lot of people, so I guess it’s just my way of adding drama to the human tapestry. But, you have to admit that it’s pretty weird to live in a tribe that hates and mocks me for wanting to do everyone’s dishes…
Premium subscribers: I’ve decided to release the bonus essay on the 15th of each month and the bonus podcast on the 1st of each month. Since I just figured this out, please bear with me as I write, edit, and release the essay for this month in time for Thanksgiving. In December, you can rely on my usual, nearly god-like punctuality (I haven’t missed a weekly essay since 2009). We’re about to start having a lot of fun! :)
This week on Coffin Talk: Josh Larsen is the co-host of the radio show and podcast Filmspotting, author of Movies Are Prayers and Fear Not!, and editor/producer for Think Christian, a website and podcast exploring faith and pop culture. He’s been writing and speaking about movies professionally since 1994 and he is a veteran of the Sundance, Toronto, and Chicago International Film Festivals. He knew Roger Ebert. He’s cool and interesting and his opinions will surprise you! Listen here or on any app.
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