This next JW facepalm moment is both sad and comical. But not comical in a “ha ha” sort of way. No. More in a “if I don’t laugh about the sheer stupidity of the circumstance I am in, I’ll end up crying” sort of way. I just got off the phone with my ex-sister in law. Yep. The sister of my ex-wife. She too has been disfellowshipped from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Sadly, as expected, she is shunned by her sister and her parents. In a state of exasperation and disbelief, she blurted out the following to me:
“Hey…..would you happen to know either of my parents’ birthdays?”. Both amused and puzzled, my reply was, “No…..but…..why?” She said, “I lost my passport and I am trying to fill out an application for a new one. But the application asks for both my parents’ dates of birth! I don’t know what to do!”
You see, as a Jehovah’s Witness, she had grown up with the belief that celebrating one’s birthday is wrong. Birthdays are to be viewed as just another day. In JW land, your birthday, or the birthdays of your loved ones are about as relevant to them as Casimir Pulaski Day is to you. So there she sat, unable to complete her application because she literally does not know her parents’ birthdays. Now…..try putting yourself in her shoes. It would be easy to reason “Well, if it were me, as embarrassing as it is to admit that I can’t remember, I’d just call my mom and dad.” Only……that isn’t an option for her.
Keep in mind, she is a disfellowshipped (former) JW. This means that she is completely shunned by her parents. She hasn’t seen her own mother in years. She can call…..but they won’t answer. It was a longshot, but she tried to text her father. Maybe…..just maybe if she explained her plight, he would have enough pity on her to respond. Alas, it was to no avail. And THAT is how far Jehovah’s Witnesses will take their shunning policy. It isn’t as though she tried to pop in for an unexpected dinner. She didn’t request to be accepted by her family. She didn’t ask for them to express any love toward her or even treat her humanely. She didnt try even try to have a casual conversation. All she needed was a piece of information so she could get her passport. 8 simple characters typed into a phone. DENIED.
And now for the rest of the evening she sits…..wondering how to bypass this requirement on the application. Imagine trying to explain to the worker why your application is incomplete……because…..not only do you not know your parents’ birthdays….but…..they also view you as though you are already dead, so contacting them for that information simply isn’t an option. The inconvenience, embarrassment and hurt caused by this cult extends to so many different facets of our lives. This really is a genuine facepalm moment.