I would guess that most people who belong to a minority – whether it’s a religious, ethnic or social minority – will say that when they’re “out there” in the world, they feel like they represent that minority.
I went to an event a few weeks ago about gays in the teenage Jewish community and during a panel, one guy said that as a gay guy he feels like he always has to be on his best behavior because, whether he wishes it or not, he represents gay people.
I can totally relate. As a Jewish woman, I feel like I am representing Jews to the world. And him saying that made me realize that it really is not just a Jewish thing but a minority thing.
Well, here’s the question, though (or questions). Is there something different between being a representative of Judaism – or Jewish people – or representing other groups of people? I also wonder if it “should” be this way. Meaning, I do believe that people judge groups according to individuals they meet but maybe we should just say, screw it, and act however we want. Obviously we should always strive to be good people but maybe, theoretically, it shouldn’t be affected by the fact that people are watching.
I’m sure there are people who at least supposedly do that. They just do whatever they want, not caring what perception they’re giving to the people around them about Jews (or gays or whatever). I’m sure there are also people who almost purposely act especially “bad” in order to try to prove that they aren’t bound by the fact that they are representing. Of course that means that they are bound. And they aren’t only bound, but bound in a negative way. Their connection to that minority is actually causing them to be even worse than they might be if they didn’t feel the pressure of representing a whole group of people.
Yeah, it’s confusing, but there are so many possibilities!
How much do you think this affects you when you go out into the world? Do you feel like people are watching you? Do you go out of your way to be outwardly Jewish and be an awesome person in order to “prove” to the world how awesome Jews are? Or do you hide your Jewishness? Or are you somewhere in the middle?
Of course it would be great if, to begin with, people didn’t judge whole groups based on an individual experience but, well, I think we may have to wait a little until that happens.