Wednesday I had a dilemma.
It was Ash Wednesday, and I got the "From dust you have come, to dust you shall return" ashes--
(Oddly enough, Dust in the Wind by Kansas is playing right now!)
Afterward, I went to my gas station of choice--the local Shell--which is run by an Indian family. The guy behind the counter said, "What is on your forehead?"
"It's Ash Wednesday," I said.
"Ohhh. Ash Wednesday!"
"What's Ash Wednesday?"
I laughed to myself and explained that Ash Wednesday is the day that starts the 40 day period known as Lent, a time of reflection and mourning that ends with Easter.
He looks at me and goes, "Oh."
I could tell he didn't really understand, but he didn't want to ask any more questions.
I didn't want to say, "It's a Christian thing" because I was afraid I would sound like I was saying, "You're not Christian, you wouldn't understand." I just said, "It's kind of a Lutheran thing..." which isn't really all that true.
He just said, "Have a good day."
I still don't think he understood, but I was amused that he asked.
Anywho...it got me thinking. Why was I afraid to say it was a Christian thing? Are we so afraid of offending someone that we don't even want to talk about what we know? And I'm not talking about Christians. I mean everyone, people in general. Is it just me? Am I just so scared of making someone feel stupid or left out or marginalized that I don't want to tell them what I know or compliment them?
Like at work--
I always appreciate when a customer's deposits are correct. And after a while, I like to tell them that. Except, last week I went to say it and stopped. Why? Asian. And before that? Jew.
Why am I so scared of someone thinking I'm stereotyping them?
Blargh. Welcome to my brain.