Experienced SUBTLE Class Warfare?

A few days ago, I called someone I considered a friend and who I hadn’t spoken to in some months. Shortly after hello, they asked “What can I DO for you?” My first thought was “I don’t want you to DOanything for me – your high and mightiness!” My mental image was a visual of Nero fiddling while I waited in a corner, patiently, for a moment of his time so he could “do” me a favor. The message I received was “Do you know how important me and my time are?”

Even if we are doing someone a favor, (not that I was seeking a favor) is it imperative to let them know that? Or let the whole world know that? Or elaborate on all the effort you expended to do this favor – given your busy (and important) schedule?

Can you predict the rest of this “interaction”?

Thankfully, it was the first time someone had directed that question to me. Next time I’ll be more prepared (just joking!). I tried to figure out what exactly rubbed me the wrong way and realized it was the question itself and the high handed manner in which it was delivered. I believe creating a class distinction creates in turn – class warfare. It’s a vicious cycle. I feel inferior therefore I say or do something to prove I am superior to someone else. This someone else feels put down and therefore attacked. Their need for survival causes them to react by going on the defensive and therefore on the offensive – creating a battle.

How unfortunate that we seek affirmation from playing class games when at the end of the day love is the one element that can contribute a boost to our self esteem like none other. I am reminded of the story of a little boy who kept trying to interrupt his stressed and busy mother with a crumpled piece of paper claiming he had something to show her. Her response was “not now son – I’m busy”. Later that night after he was in bed, she found that crumpled bit of paper – it read “the bestest Mummy in the hole world”. Sadly, this mother could’ve used that encouragement during that day but unintentionally pushed it away. Yes, trying so hard to heal the lack, we work hard at proving that we are “somebody” and inadvertently ignore the affirmation that would actually make a difference - hurting others in the process.

When we think of words or statements that divide we tend to think of the obvious – name calling, pejorative slurs, etc. However the subtle messages do more damage simply because they are not so overt and therefore easily justified.

Some other statements I have heard that underscore the class distinction:

  • “I am meeting with the President of Peru” (or the Archbishop of Canterbury! Or some other celebrity!)
  • “My Lexus 570 is now clean” – (ever consider “my car is now clean”?)
  • “I am so stressed planning our vacation to Europe” (Impressed anyone?)
  • “It is only 10 am and I have already had three meetings – one with big boss so & so, one with my personal secretary…” (And one with my best pals – PRIDE and IMPORTANCE!)

One of my favorite scenes in the movie “The Sound of Music” is when the Baroness questions how the Captain can remove himself from the beauty of his home by traveling. He answers honestly: “Pretending to be madly active I suppose… Activity suggests a life filed with purpose”.

So whether we’re “boss” or “bishop” or not,  we who are seeking to fill that need for “Purpose” with activity, or material goods or power while inadvertently creating class distinction and distancing ourselves from what is really important; 1 Corinthians 13:2 tells us: if we have not love, nothing we say or do matters.

Have you experienced subtle “class warfare”? Have you felt “less than” because of it? Do you remember this “Sound of Music” scene? Do you push love and affirmation away? Are you seeking “Purpose”? How?

Share your thoughts…

Marisa Pereira

By

Marisa Pereira is a mother, fashion designer, currently runs a Design and Image Consulting business in Atlanta, GA, is a freelance writer and volunteers at her church and in the community. She holds a BA in Fashion Design and a BA in French with a minor in Psychology and has worked in the Fashion Industry for over twenty years. Frustrated at her inability to find appropriate church clothes for her 14 year old daughter, she heeded God’s call, and created the stylish but modest, Michaela-Noel clothing collection, now available on-line. Having lived in multiple countries, she is acutely aware of the emphasis cultures place on visual appeal. She analyzes the importance of presenting the best image of ourselves and passionately insists that it starts within. She regularly addresses adult and youth audiences – encouraging and teaching them to make a memorable first impact but more importantly - to create a lasting impression. Her websites are: www.mpcimage.com and michaela-noel.com.

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  • Southgeorgiabelle

    yes, i remember the scene !  always fascinated me as i could not see what The Captain saw in the phony baroness anyway….the veil was later lifted from his eyes and he had no need to be pretentious any longer.  … much as we need to be on a daily basis with others…just be loving and ordinary…my mama taught zero tolerance for haughtiness, bigotry and “horn tooting” as she called it.  If you truly have the heart for love and giving, someone else will toot the horn….you can go about your day walking with one hand in the hand of The Lord…..He loves everyone!!!!!  thanks, Marisa

  • Nancy Cusimano

    I think you hit on a lot of points we take for granted.  Well written and a good reminder to watch what we say or do because it will and can hurt someone without us even knowing it.  We can impact some people in the smallest way.  Thank you.

  • http://www.michaela-noel.com/ marisa

    You’re Welcome SouthGeorgiaBelle! Your mama was right! Thank you for your comments.

  • http://www.michaela-noel.com/ marisa

    Thanks for your comments Nancy. Blessings.

  • Mellissayr

    Wow! Thanks for sharing that!

  • Ffarrell

    Several years ago my boss and I were “summoned” to the office of a CFO of a fairly big company that was doing quite well by all accounts. The mere summons was off-putting enough.  Moreover, the first item discussed was his busy schedule due to a flight that evening in order to have an audience with the Pope the next day. I’m not making this up. As a Catholic i was embarrassed; particularly in that my boss was the son of a small town Baptist preacher. 

    Your column brought that story to mind.  You make a number of very good points throughout.  With self importance seemingly on the rise these days, we should take your advice to heart.  Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.michaela-noel.com/ marisa

    If he was sooo busy why the summons that particular day??
    Thanks for sharing Ffarrell.

  • New Name

    Thank you for articulating this.  It’s often very subtle from those you would least likely expect to do this.  Your reflection comes from purposeful reflection.  Are you in spiritual direction?  And, do you have an exam of conscience that you recommend?  I ask this because, besides seeing others do it, I sometimes catch myself in the act as well.

  • Pete Pereira

    Couldn’t help laughing as I read the examples – they seem right out of the British TV series “Keeping Up Appearances!”

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