I was listening to Christmas music the other day when the beloved children’s song, ‘Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer’ came on. As I was singing along, trying to remember the order of the reindeer’s names (is it Prancer and Vixen and Donner and Blizen or the other way around? I can never get that right). Anyway, it dawned on me how easily swayed by peer pressure and fame these reindeer really were. First, they are all excluding Rudolph and bullying him, wanting nothing to do with him because he was different. However, as soon as he proves valuable and is placed in a high-ranking position because of this difference, everyone loves him. The song actually say, “now all of the reindeer loved him…” I immediately stopped singing and said out loud, “oh sure, now you love him”. Now that he is loved by Santa and ‘going down in history’ everyone wants to be Rudolph’s friend… Isn’t that always the way with fair-weathered ‘friends’? Doesn’t our culture promote this type of thinking?
How is it that something is viewed as weird or inferior until someone with power or money or influence deems it worthy, and then all of a sudden our culture is embracing it as if it had always been fabulous or worthy of praise and imitation? Are we as finicky and easily swayed as the little reindeer that couldn’t be bothered to get to know an odd looking member of their community until he proved useful and rose in popularity? Or do we take time to get to know someone despite their outward appearance and differences?
This Christmas Season, I would like to challenge each one of us (including myself) to stop ourselves when we feel that judgment rising up at first look or when interacting with someone different than us. Maybe there is someone in your life that you haven’t given a fair chance to. Is it possible that you pass a person at work or on the way to work that you have knowingly (or sub-consciously) deemed unworthy of your time or attention? Would that change if everyone you knew talked of their greatness or you learned of how they could benefit you? What about taking them to coffee or engaging in a conversation with them. Maybe in this season of giving, you decide to stop for that dirty and ragged looking sign-holder. Perhaps a simple smile or the respect of a look in the eye; or maybe even a tangible gift to help them out.
We have the opportunity to love someone that appears unlovable. This love could be simply choosing to ‘shout out with glee’ for a person before they have proven their worth to us or including them even when those around us haven’t. We do not have to conform to the games of others. We can choose to be different. We can choose to see the beauty in the red-noses.