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February 24, 2010

If God Doesn't Like Ugly...Should Anyone?

The saying “God don’t like ugly” means exactly what? Is it in reference to people who don’t like themselves and can’t get out of their own way? Is it in reference to people who want to blame others for their insecurities? Is it in reference to people who think others are ugly and are convinced that they aren’t? In that case those who may be thinking along those lines should hear the entire quote: “God don’t like ugly and he ain’t stuck on pretty.” The full quote is provocative in its own right because if you actually believe you are far removed from ugly on the appearance or behavior spectrums, then that might suggest that you are closer to pretty, another position that the quote says God isn’t overtly fond of. This leaves people who are trying to leverage their beauty in the virtuous position, the Aristotelian “mean between the extremes,” right? But then, wouldn’t that imply that God likes mean?

So what is ugly behavior? Well, some cases of ugly behavior are so apparent they don’t leave much up for discussion. My daughter being called the “N” word by a 4th grader a few weeks ago I would call ugly, though I want to avoid labeling the child who said it as such, though if that child heard it from his parents I would want to call them ugly, at least as ugly as I was back in the day when I leveraged my ability to call people with disabilities, or people that I just didn’t care for, words equivalent to ugly. Or The person gossiping about someone they barely know as if they really know them is difficult to not call ugly, or at least as ugly as the act of their feigning familiarity with, or knowledge of someone they actually know nothing about.

There must be some type of universal we can apply to ugly, right? For example, child molestation and rape are ugly behavior that are so clear cut that there isn’t much need to discuss them, right? Well, slow your roll and let’s consider some of the complexities of both. While we could all possibly agree that the act of child molestation is ugly and the person that molests a child is just as ugly as the act he/she perpetrates, are they really ugly? Consider that molesters are creations of God and with a deterministic eye that acknowledges God’s omnipotence/omniscience as creator and God’s consistently articulated benevolence, how ugly can any of God’s creations actually be? As well, if a child molester is mentally ill, how sophisticated is the person that labels a person ugly that acts ugly because he/she can’t control his/her self? Are they really ugly, or the society that continues to be inept in addressing this socially deemed deviance?

Rape is ugly, and it’s hard to call a rapist anything other than that, but how about someone who didn’t lace a drug for sex, but was falsely accused of it? How about the person framed as a rapist, or someone who condones rape, or someone who is falsely accused of sexually predatory behavior. Is it them that is ugly, or the accuser? Is it actually ugly to accuse someone of something we have no evidence of, but a feeling that may be more of a statement of something disturbing occurring in our lives than an accurate read on the person we somehow perceived as a perpetrator? Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep) did exactly this to Father Brendan Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in the film Doubt and every time I think about the fact that she did, it somehow turns my stomach. Was it okay for her to be judge and jury, with no evidence except what she fabricated in her mind? Seriously, were her actions ugly or less repulsive because she covered them with metaphorical make up?

I knew a student once who was adept at manipulating people to get them to see the ugliness in others. What was curious though was the fact that many people, who didn’t buy into the hype prematurely, had already unmasked him for what he really was, an unhappy person posing as a happy person. I knew a married woman once who claimed to love her husband so much, but with him in the same room would orchestrate opportunities to grab men’s crotches, men whom would incur her veiled wrath if they didn’t respond at least somewhat graciously to her actions. Yet, she would paint them as ugly and somehow be convinced herself that she was still attractive.

Haven’t we all met the angry Black person who wants every White person to repent for ancestral sins that scarred the Black person, though the White person they are prepared to blame is first generation White from Sweden, one of the more racially sensitive countries in the world. Haven’t we met the person who knows that she/he didn’t do what she/he should have, could have done in their relationship to make it better, and now wants to blame their ex-lover/spouse for all their woes. Haven’t we all known the seemingly gay man who worked hard to project the fact that he was down with feminism, as a means to cloak his gayness, or the woman who embraced feminism as a means to be steeped in conversations that allowed her to pretend she wasn’t suffering from some dysfunctional misandry, as if any form of misandry (or misogyny for that matter) is functional. I knew a woman once who called herself a leader but was incapable of truly leading when an energy imposter, posing as an energizer, would read the fact that she wasn’t much of a leader and manipulate her into doing things that if she were immersed into a less dysfunctional crew she would be less apt to do.

And before anyone goes too far down that road of designating me as a holy roller, while I was reared Catholic and served as an altar boy I don’t want to give anyone the impression that this is about recruiting other like-minded souls to some mission of sorts. However, if the church sings hymns you like, you may want to join so that you can sing with that chorus.

I know that we haven’t defined ugly and to properly have this discussion we might want to pause for the cause and define it first. One of the best definitions I have ever heard of it was by Mrs. Kinsey (Laura Linney) in the film Kinsey, when she said “ugly is such an ugly word.” Also, going back to virtue ethics, if ugly is on one extreme, average the mean, and pretty at the other extreme, how much exuberance can a person revel in by being called any of the terms on the continuum, since to a so-called pretty person an average person is ugly, to a so-called ugly person an average person may be pretty, and to the so-called average person both the so-called ugly person and so-called pretty person are extreme characterizations that probably symbolize simply categories of people who are not average (whatever average means) or normal (whatever normal means).

Wait a minute, if God don’t like ugly then why did God make anything that could bear that designation, or allow the concept to come into existence. What if we didn’t have to have ugly, but without ugliness we couldn’t experience godliness.

Well, I’m going to end this ugly conversation by asking anyone who reads this to seriously reflect on the question: Why would/should God like ugly? And more so, if after we have stopped and intelligently reflected upon the matter and also reflected upon our actions, if we actually have the ability to truly own our actions as ugly, then why would we continue to act ugly, unless ugly is equivalent to stupid. If it is though, then God wouldn’t like stupid either, right?