Do you know Karen?
With apologies to the many truly kind-hearted women named Karen, “Karen” is the code word among restaurant servers and other customer service workers for a customer who feels entitled and demands her own way at the expense of others.
Karen behavior is often loud and obnoxious - “I want to see the manager NOW!”
But it can be subtle.
Recently, I read about a woman whose son, a drug addict, was redecorating his bedroom and picked a paint color he liked for the walls.
His mom thought, “Since he’s always stoned, how would he know what color to choose?” and bought a different color instead.
Later she wrote, “Arrogance makes me think not only that my decorating color scheme is superior, but that my thoughts and beliefs are more important than the thoughts and beliefs of others, that my life has more credence than the lives of others.”
That’s Karen in a nutshell.
Lately, it seems that our nation has become a nation of Karens.
Our divisive politics have crept into every area of our lives, with Karens everywhere pitting themselves against each other.
A week or so ago, a man in Michigan who was refused service at a convenience store for not wearing a face mask stabbed a 77-year-old customer. Later he was fatally shot by a deputy.
I’m not here to argue or debate face masks. I’m simply pointing out that our lack of humility and simple human kindness for one another and the way we hate those with whom we disagree is also a very real pandemic, sadly, even among Christians.
The disciples of Jesus were talking about who among them would be the greatest in the coming kingdom, and Jesus called them out. He told them the rulers of the world lord their power over people, “but among you it will be different” (Mark 10:42-44)
Another time he told them, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” -- those devoid of spiritual arrogance -- “for theirs is the kingdom of God” (Matthew 5:3)
He said the first, those who demand their privileged place, will be last and the last will be first (Mark 9:36)
He said everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but those who humble themselves, think of others as more important, will be exalted (Luke 14:11)
The proverb writer said, “Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18), and that pride is something God hates (Proverbs 16:5) because it diminishes others. It’s about MY comfort, MY wants, MY likes and dislikes, MY rights -- and not yours.
In his famous prayer, St. Francis of Assisi gave us the answer for our 21st-century souls when he wrote:
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light, and where there is sadness, joy.”
Maybe if this was our prayer each day, people wouldn’t be killing each other over pieces of cloth.
May God have mercy on us all.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria — I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing” and “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927 or via email at email@example.com.