No One is a Nobody

No One is a Nobody May 21, 2019
Photo by Michael Walter on Unsplash

Last week, I heard the word, again:*

Nobody.

The woman said it with the kind of ease that gave me the impression that she had used it many times before. The word passed through the casually like a crumpled receipt quickly tossed into a trash can.

I was still pondering the words of a man who had referred to certain people as “nobodies.” He did not want to associate with them.  If I elaborated on his criteria, you might understand why my comportment restrained an undeniable disgust.

Sometimes, part of my prayer includes language about God helping me when I judge people who judge others.

No one is a nobody. Everyone is a somebody. These statements are not elementary affirmations from a lesson on self- esteem. These words proclaim truths about who we are in our daily lives.

What happens when we use the Bible support the ways cast people to the margins as nobodies? Does God categorize humanity into groups of somebodies and nobodies?

This dichotomous spiritual form of human valuation  has been supported in particular theological spaces.

Christianity has used the Bible to categorize Black people as nobodies, justifying their enslavement.

The Church has used the Bible to justify bullying people who are not Christian.

Have you read in the Bible about:

The sheep versus the goats;

The called versus the chosen;

The spiritual versus the carnal;

The believer versus the unbeliever;

The wheat versus the tares?

Although the Biblical idea of a God who is not a respecter of persons might seem appealing, various Christians tend to express our religion through this  “somebodies versus the nobodies” framework.

I feel uncomfortable with people being called “nobodies.”  Certain people have more influence than others, and it does not make them any more a somebody than one with a different span of influence.

Whenever I hear these terms, I feel challenged to slow down in order to verbalize more intention in my language. What this means is that instead of saying things like “somebody,” I strive to use more words to honor the diverse human spheres of influence.

I can say things like:

  • a person with household name recognition
  • a person with formal leadership experience
  • a  person with extensive reach of influence within “abc” context
  • a person with growing  influence within the “123” industry
  • a person
  • a human

I have a critique about these  aformentioned examples.  For example, even as social beings, our human worth is not determined by social accomplishments. We are born with intrinsic immeasurable worth. We are priceless, not a commodity subject to changing market conditions.

When we call people “nobodies,” we reduce people to things. We ignore the intrinsic beauty of people and the impact they make.

When we reduce people to “nobodies,” we sustain systems that create and maintain new forms of slavery. We keep in-tact the hierarchical beliefs which assess value according to different social constructs.

In our defining people as socio-cultural nobodies, we tend to  ignore the somebodiness of the divinity of being human.

I think a spiritual framework of somebodiness help us to remember  and hold sacred the billions of somebodies who make the world go round.

I think one of the ways  our joy and peace can increase by intentionally disrupting these popular ways of thinking and living in our lives.  I have experienced it more and more.  Imagine how your life would seem if you perceived everyone you came across as somebodies? For some of us, it would mean valuing the barista at your local coffee shop like a leader in your field and/or religion.

I know it can be easier said than done. There are certain people, for example, who are extra special to me. And there are people who do not truly know their somebodiness and act out their pain on the world. They are somebody, even when their actions scream “nobody.”

Nevertheless, I have not reached a place in life where I can call someone a “nobody.” If I ever say something like this, please check on my mental well-being** because this is something I know and feel from the depth of my soul:

All of us are somebody’s somebody starting with ourselves.

*Week 46 of Quitting the Bible

**Also, I have instructed certain friends to check on me if I ever decided to seriously take up running.

 

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  • Ivan T. Errible

    Why is church so boring?

  • reformr87

    If you were a casualty of the 2008-and-beyond financial disaster for the working poor, you may be painfully aware of something many professing Christian churches in America heartily endorse: The PAY-TO-PLAY Rule. It goes like this, “If you cannot pay, you will not get to play.” It’s that simple. You cannot go to special retreats, fellowship dinners, seminars or even some special Sunday classes without the ability to pay both overt and hidden fees, ticket prices or itemized food costs, and if you admit your inability to pay….God help you in the long run!

    I attended one wealthy church in my community where the “doughnut hour” was accompanied by visible price lists that posted suggested fees distinguishing between the common glazed doughnut s as opposed to the higher-end pastries. In another church, the classes recommended for those new attenders who “struggle in that area called finance” were listed at $100 a head. Maybe they didn’t mean STRUGGLE, but something more like…a little struggle? Finally, there was the church that encouraged new members to participate in “table fellowship” at a meal every Wednesday night for $6.00 a person.Being “somebody” in these places hinges on the ability to pay….or no “play.” This is especially the case when one throws in fees for baptism, baby dedications and spiritual workshops.

    Or worse yet, maybe you came from a poor church and now feel the “call” to ministry at a modern, up-scale worship center. Better make sure you can afford the licensing fees for ministry after paying for all the tests and assessments you need to take in order to qualify, not to mention the monthly “tithes” you better cough up for your district presbyters who want you to remain in “good standing”!

    Then, once you get ordained, be ready to face a future church board who will run a through a detailed, computer background check on your finances to be sure that you are “SOMEBODY” who would be suitable to preach in their pulpit. After all, “Those who cannot cough up all these costs are obviously not “called” by God, according to these self-appointed, religious authorities.

    The commendations from the Risen Savior to the poor church of Smyrna in Revelation 2:8-11 ring hollow in this era when churches are content with all the quiet exits of those financial “nobodies” of the working-poor from their ranks. Can Christianity continue to sanction such an attitude toward the working poor and continue to survive as a viable force for the Gospel. I seriously doubt it.

  • @RaceandGrace
  • Ivan T. Errible

    MMM-kay…..