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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

To Men of Good Will

My readers have been having a squabble, ironically, about my last post where there is a family squabble question.

There was a phrase in the question that I will admit made my blood pressure rise, but I chose to ignore it and rather focus on the question about getting to Mass on Christmas day.

I'll let you take a look at the original question again. You might also want to cruise through the comments. I'll wait.

Caught up? Time for me to step up and settle the matter.

My readers have been arguing about the use of the term 'white trailer trash':
Anonymous here again, TheIntrepidPie, and sorry, you seem to be a very gracious person, but the OP used the term "white trailer trash" to refer to other family members; that is a vile term under any circumstances, and most definitely reeks of classism, arrogance, and prejudice. I can't imagine using that term in a neutral or even joking tone; it is as offensive and unacceptable as using any other racial or ethnic slur. I don't see anything arrogant about stating that.

I don't either. I just chose not to mention it, myself. But this further comment from another reader bears an answer:

But IS there such a thing as "white trailer trash"? Does it exist? If it does - and I have much proof that indeed, it does - that means that somewhere, some people really *are* "white trailer trash". In which case, it would be the truth to call them what they, in fact, are. Why do you have a problem with calling something what it really is? Keeping in mind that this is all anonymous. PC-ness is just about the most tiresome thing in the world.

Merciful heaven! Thank God for PC-ness if it stops people blurting out their most ignorant prejudices and half baked theories. I'm sorry it's so tiresome for you to behave yourself.

Very, very sorry.

Why do you have a problem with calling something what it really is? I have a problem with calling something what it really isn't. God doesn't make trash. God doesn't make trash in any color or size. Calling God's creation in His own image 'trash', thereby making those people a little less than human, is the root of evil.

Does it exist? If it does - and I have much proof that indeed, it does - that means that somewhere, some people really *are* "white trailer trash". I would like to meet these people you so cavalierly label as 'white trailer trash' and give them a big hug for the indignities that they must endure due the the judgment of people who are apparently more fortunate.

More fortunate, but not at all kind.

We have all met people who don't live as we do, enjoy things we don't enjoy, don't raise their children the way we think they should be raised. The reasons for these differences range from a matter of taste, lack of education and poverty, to criminal intentions and mental illness.

What is our commandment? Did Jesus ask us to go hang out with the 'white trailer trash', or to judge anyone as such? Jesus actually hung out with some very unsavory people. He had a name for them, too. He called them "brothers".

That is our commandment: love our brothers.

If PC-ness, which I prefer to think of as TAWYS (Think About What You're Saying), is too tiresome for you, you can go with an actual Commandment of Jesus. We don't even have to sit around with more acronyms asking "WWJD?" He mentioned what He would do and what He would like us to do, "Love your neighbor as yourself." That includes the ones who live in trailers.

I often think that "WWJD" should stand for what many people actually seem to think about Jesus: "Why Was Jesus Dumb?" Because many people seem to think that poor old Jesus was very stupid and naive to think that we could actually live in peace with each other if we tried a little harder.

Keeping in mind that this is all anonymous. Maybe here on the internets inside the tubes. But not in Heaven, or.....not Heaven, should we utterly fail to behave.

Peace on Earth to Men of Good Will. An important distinction.


Married to a Staunch Lutheran said...

I am the original poster of that comment and, to be quite honest, am surprised by the huge debate I began!

My intent in making that comment was to try & convey why I think it is important to attend the Lutheran service with my in-laws. Their local friends are sadly family with all the trials my sister-in-law puts her parents through. In the 20 some years I have known her, she has never held a job for more than 3 months. She chooses to live with men who do not have jobs and who typically have drinking or drug problems. They usually last a year or less, and they are usually living someplace that may or may not have heat, electricity or running water, they usually don't pay rent & usually get evicted. She has married a few of them, but was never married when any of her children were born. She never tries to better her circumstances, and jusually blames others for her problems. She never thanks her parents for bailing her out, time and again, financially or emotionally. Instead, she picks fights with them, usually very loudly & in public.

Yes, Grandma likes to show off my children & the other out-of-town grandchildren. Don't all grandmas like to be surrounded by beautiful, well behaved family? Especially since they also can be proud of their sons, who are both hard-working solid citizens?

Do we ostracize my sister-in-law? No. She is always welcome to join us, but she chooses not too. Nor do we pick on her children, who are sadly the products of the type of environment she has chosen in which to raise them. We treat them as we do our own - accept them for who they are and try to focus on the positive of anything they do. It is hard.

LOL - and it is true sister, there are VERY few Catholic churches down here in the Bible belt. It's a very Christian place, but not very Catholic!

rita said...

Well said Sister Martha!

Anonymous said...

I married a staunch Catholic. My family is staunch Lutheran. This year we will be together as much as possible. Without a miracle my sister will not likely see another Christmas. So for all the families out there who are bickering over the small stuff, stop.

Chris said...

Well said, Sister. It's interesting to see different people's views on "PC-ness." I think that sometimes it does get taken to the extreme (referring to God as He/She, etc.), and it does get a little tiresome at times, when people go crazy with it and apply it to things that it really doesn't need to be applied to. But it is, of course, important, and can't be written off in all circumstances. I think the key is exactly what you said (and, of course, as you mentioned, Jesus before you), to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Also, I noticed that on the last post someone commented that your blog is messing up their Firefox. I'm using Firefox on a Mac, and lately it's flipping out a little when I'm on your blog. There are little white dots floating around, and the bars at the bottom/side of my screen are constantly moving and adjusting, I think for these dots that are floating around, which is making the whole page very hard to read, because tan blocks keep popping up and disappearing everywhere. I noticed that at the top of your sidebar it says "Snow Effect", but I can't click it or turn it on or off. I think that might be the issue... I don't know if anyone else is having that problem. I just thought I'd mention it.

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

I think that what OP meant in her 'white trailer trash' comment is that her family has experienced terrible pain due to this person. And, while the term "wtt" is offensive, I think that it is only fair to point out that many of us are victims of abuse from predators, constant takers, liars, manipulators, drama queens, maligners, sociopaths and phycopaths. This is why Christmas can be so hard on us. We want to believe all the 'good will to men' stuff, but it is true that a lot of people really don't have any remorse for the pain that they have inflicted on others. So...who suffers? The ones of us who believe (as most abused do) that we could have done something differently in life to 'make' that person behave differently..to make them happy...to give them what they are seeking.
Some people never say that they are sorry. Some people never believe that they have anything to be sorry for. Some people believe that if we are not enableing them and their addictions, crimes, etc., that WE are the 'evil' ones...and they aren't afraid to say it.
What's worse is when they start hurting our children, and try to control us by manipulating them (our children).
Yes...there are people out there that are like that. What do we do? For a good Catholic, it's so hard to know what to do. Every time we extend the 'olive branch', we get burned..and used..until we're all used up.
For people like us, Christmas is so hard. The guilt is unbearable...the sadness is crushing...

Humbled said...

I just have to chime in. My whole extended family would be easily described by the term "trailer trash". We even use the words as a term of endearment, a joke, a way to mock snooty neighbors, and as a direct insult. As in, "Would you stop messing around with that married woman, you are being such trailer trash!"
Really, it is not a big deal when used in our family. Actually can be refreshing to know that some behaviors receive less approval than others.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Sister. I wish I could remember this more often. A Blessed Christmas to all three of you precious images of God.

distracted by shiny objects said...

Many blessings to you and yours, and
Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

And this is why political correctness is so tiresome. Do we really need to spell out that "white trash" is an idiom? And no one is actually advocating taking any one of them, crumpling them up and tossing them in the wastebasket like an old piece of scrap paper? Unlike, however, what white trash are often known to do with their own unborn. Abortion mills do quite a business in white trash areas.

Not all of white trash culture is immoral: no one sins when they hang a black velvet Jesus painting, own an Elvis clock or puts plastic flowers in the dirt in front of their home. But a life-style built around fatherlessness (or child-abandonment from either parents), drunkenness, drug use, unrelenting foul language from the cradle to grave, avoiding a job and sleeping with your half-sister, well, that's sin. And if we're to really be charitable to those who commit such atrocities, it just might be saving some people if you give them a clue that their behavior is white-trash-like and is damaging to their souls.

TheIntrepidPie said...

I too can see the little white dots, but no tan squares! (And I'm using microsoft explorer). Time to ask the tech-savvy 7th graders!

Merry Christmas!

Claudia's thoughts said...

I think the "Trailer Trash" is relating to people who have a lot history making poor choices in the lives, over and over again. They live their lives smoking and drinking, drug abuse, not holding jobs or jobs that they quit shortly after being employed, not finishing school, spending money that could be used for their children or food on things like tattoos and gold chains. They have poor if non existent parenting skills and the cycle seems never ending and their children who think that is the way life it continue with each generation.
They reproduce with out marriage and the fathers have no responsibility to take care of their offspring.

How do we break the cycle. I think a way would be to quit rewarding such behavior. The government rewards people who make these choice...I think it is past time to take back personal responsibility and accountability.

Illinois mom said...

Wow, Sister, this has sure stirred up a lot of different issues. I loved your response to the 'white trailer trash' comments -- that term really needs to go away. We all need to work on loving each other despite our faults.

To the original poster -- attending Mass is of utmost importance on Christmas, as Sister pointed out. Christmas is not about showing off your beautiful well-behaved children. I really hope that you realize that. And I empathize with you on your efforts to balance your needs with your in-laws and trying to keep the peace.

To those that are hurting this holiday season -- especially the few that have posted -- you are in my prayers. My son was in PICU 3 years ago during Thanksgiving, and was thankfully home by Christmas. My heart goes out to you, and you are right, you are right where you need to be. Stay close to God.

Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

White trash, describes the woman in line at the store who was afraid of messing up her $80 nails searching for her food stamps.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Oh, goodness - Sister is not so much being PC as being compassionate and kind. There is a difference. She is not afraid to say that the people being rather uncharitably discussed here are making poor choices in their lives and that they are responsible for those choices. Sister is simply saying judge not, lest ye be judged. I tend to be a very judgmental person myself, and I believe there is some angel the Lord has appointed whose fulltime job is making sure I'm constantly being reminded of my own fallibility. (Teen daughters will do that to you, you know!) Sort of like a guardian angel, only it is guarding me from my own hubris and pride...

I do wish it would take a break some time...

Lawrence said...

White trailer trash.
Black ghetto trash.
Mexican scum.

Thank God Jesus came to save them all... and MEE TOO!

I belong to the Redneck variety of humans myself, (and proud of it) but love and identify with all. Now go out and have Charity for ALL. Merry Christmas!

Momto5 said...

I hate to change the subject but - I love the cards with the Behave Yourself phrase! Where can I get some? Are they coaster? A pack of playing cards would be awesome.

Merry Christmas.

Wendy said...

Seriously referring to anyone as trash is a denial of their God given dignity.

That doesn't mean you let them abuse and manipulate you or your children. It doesn't mean you don't recognize that they are abusive, but if you don't forgive and pray for them, you really aren't being so great to yourself or your kids either.

Just to be clear: forgiveness is not acting like it never happened. You need to protect your kids, but you also need to let go of the bitterness.

Anonymous said...

Yes, problem with Firefox and Linux Operating System; moving tan columns, white square dots, takes forever literally for screen to change to comments--have to quit, turn off computer, etc. (using different computer with Microsoft Operating System now). Must be some site that's been recently installed on the sidebar, or an uploaded picture or program.

Annie said...

Thank you.

This post would not have resonated with me until my little sister made some bad choices and is now stereotypical "white trash." When you realize that it can happen to anyone, that we are all susceptible to different kinds of faults, it becomes impossible to look down on anyone. These people who are "white trash" may chronically be irresponsible, which often results in their mistakes being more public (children, poverty, toxic relationships...), but how is that worse that being a chronic gossip or chronically cold-hearted? We are all "trash" in some way and we are all so much better than trash fundamentally!

Adoro said...

I'd just like to add that I happen to be a whitetrash (oneword) girl. Woman, maybe.

I grew up in a whitetrash neighborhood, and when I got older, I lived in a whitetrash apartment building. Then the term melded into "apartment rat".

And here's the thing: I still joke about being whitetrash, but the reality is that we can't label someeone else like that. "Trash" isn't in being, it's in attitude. it's a behavior, not a person.

So it is that really, I'm not whitetrash anymore no matter what my upbringing, or the idea of having a house that has wheels, or the fact I was raised on welfare and commodities. (For the record...I'm now a homeowner..I'm the new whitetrash a step up from apartmentrat, and I've never lived in a house with wheels.)

"Trash" in modern parlance really isn't an insult to dignity; it's a commentary on attitude, if used properly. If the person exemplified appears on Jerry Springer announcing that the world owes them something...trashy attitude. If someone has no problem with their children reading their husband's girly mags...attitude and major moral issues. If the family tree does not fork...one has MUCH bigger problems than attitude or any label, and dang it, those kids need help!

And on the other hand, I prefer to remember myself as "trash" because then I remember that on my own, I can't get out of the heap I've made for myself. But I sure wouldn't want to say someone else deserves the same title. I hope they don't.

None of this probably makes sense to anyone but whitetrash me, and I'm happy to be so. I've been accused of worse.