I learned something today. And it rocked my world.
You know lemmings? Those little Scandinavian doodads that pile up at the edge of a sea cliff and jump to their cute, little, critter deaths in the churning, cold waters of the north Atlantic? Of course you do. Everybody knows about lemmings and their follow-the-leader-ritual-march-to-mass suicide. It’s just a fact. We’ve seen it with our own two eyes on the Discovery Channel. Discovery Channel = Fact. Duh! I mean, everyone – in the world – knows that lemmings are little round furballs with big sad eyes that throw themselves off a cliff in some kind of anthropomorphic tribute to Sylvia Plath.
Today, El Chupacabra tried to tell me that the FACTS about lemming behavior are, in fact, a lie. I looked up from my coffee and said, “No, they are not. Now stop being an idiot.” But he insisted that no, our little lemming friends are not the depressed death cult that we all know and love. He said that on occasion, lemmings, in their instinctive plight to migrate, will find themselves stopped by a tall cliff, but that because they move in large numbers, the guys at the front get pushed off by the pressing crowd which starts a chain reaction of lemmings either falling or jumping to the water where, with no exit plan, they swim to exhaustion, and eventually death. And then he tried to tell me that the whole “suicidal lemming” thing was perpetrated by Disney. Ridiculous, right? I know. So I immediately turned to the source of undisputed truth in this broken world…Wikipedia. And guess what? Wiki told me El Chupacabra was….right...
“Even more influential was the 1958 Disney film White Wilderness, which won an Academy Award for Documentary Feature, in which footage was shown that seems to show the mass suicide of lemmings. …A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary, Cruel Camera, found that the lemmings used for White Wilderness were flown from Hudson Bay to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where they did not jump off the cliff, but in fact were launched off the cliff using a turntable.“
Can you believe that? I’m kinda pissed.
Mostly, I’m mad at myself, for buying the lie. But I’m super mad at Disney, too, because they built a giant lazy-susan and used it to fling those little fuzz-balls off a cliff, but they never made it into a ride at Disneyland and that would have been awesome. (Ok, and also, I’m peeved because El Chupacabra was right. Again. And, frankly, I’m just sick and tired of it.)
I believed it. I never questioned it for even one second. But, today, as Wiki revealed the truth, I just sat there shaking my head, like, “No way. No freaking way….Everything I’ve ever believed about lemmings was…false.”
A few months ago, one of my pastors said that maybe my spiritual gift was “crap detecting” (which I took as a huge compliment until I realized his point was that, perhaps, I should try focusing on finding the good in people. Which, by the way, I tried, and it’s like WAY harder than it sounds…). It’s just that, I’m not a huge fan of being manipulated. I don’t believe in flattery. And I tend to call BS where I think I see it. The super down-side of this, is that I also tend to question peoples motives too harshly, I’m always looking for the “angle”, and I am overly skeptical of programs, numbers, and formats. And sometimes, you know like once in a while, people are actually being genuine, or even *gasp* kind. And also, programs can be good, and numbers can be helpful, and formats can be reliable. The thing is, I’m not much of a follower, which in itself, is neither good nor bad. But, I can be…*ahem*…a bit hyper-critical of people that do stuff because “that’s how it’s always been done” or whatever. I’ve sort of prided myself on not being…well…a lemming. Not jumping off a cliff, or on a bandwagon, just because that’s what I saw everybody else doing (she blogged! sheesh, I just get lamer and lamer…).
Today, I realized (besides the fact that lemmings are not the cute, round, death-daring chubsters that I had in my head, but instead are giant, oogy, wet rats that deserve to die) that I am a lemming. I’m a lemming when I want to be, a follower when I feel like it. Maybe my “crap detector” isn’t as finely tuned as I like to pretend. Maybe, I’m no different than the corny suburban Christianites, declaring “a God thing” when they find a parking spot in the shade, or when they run into their best friend from high-school at Target. And maybe I fall right into line with the hip urban Christ-followers “doing life” with their dope friends in rad clothes at epic parties. The fact that I blindly believed that lemmings were cliff-diving harikiri specialists, in itself, makes me a lemming.
I don’t really have a point. Except that maybe, the only difference between me and the lemmings (besides the fact that I have Wiki and they don’t, which sucks for them) is that I get to choose who I follow, or even if I will follow. I get to choose if I want to wear capris and have a fish symbol stuck to the back of my SUV. Or, I can, if I want, wear vintage and thrift, and stretch my earlobes and tattoo three words of my favorite scripture on the inside of my wrist, or whatever. Or, I can choose none of that. I can choose not to follow at all. It’s up to me. A word of warning for non-conformists: Sometimes, your choice, will make people uncomfortable, and they will want to throw you off a cliff using a giant turn-table because you refuse to cooperate with their idea of what a lemming…er…a Christian should do, or be, or look like, or talk like, or whatever. And other times, you may choose a path which you later decide was the wrong direction, and where you find yourself at the edge of a cliff, wanting to turn back, but being pushed forward by the rest of the group. So tread quietly lest you inflame the powerful masses, and tread carefully lest you lead others in the wrong direction, but tread, none the less.
So, I guess that I was wrong about you, lemmings. Sorry. And if you are a Christian that I may have happened to call a lemming because I assumed you never chose and that you simply did what you saw everybody else doing, I’m sorry about that, too. Wiki told me that sometimes I’m wrong (which El Chupacabra points out all the time, but he’s not Wiki, sooo, you know…I just don’t really believe him). But, I might have been wrong about you, lady with the mom jeans and pink t-shirt that says “Modest is the New Sexy” in rhinestones. And maybe I was wrong about you, too, hipster with streaked hair covering one eye and that cool scarf thingy around your neck. And all you others, that I might have wrongly accused of falling into line before you asked “why” – I’m sorry. I’m a jerk.
I think that maybe it’s time for me to get serious about my pastors suggestion. You know, that thing about finding the good in everyone?
Pshhhh….who am I kidding?…