Recently Marianne and I have been watching the series "Big Bang Theory." Given my own geeky tendencies and the numerous recommendations for the series I have been given over the years maybe we should have at least watched one episode earlier, but we haven't. At present we have only watch half of the first season, so I don't claim to be an expert on it, but that doesn't stop me from writing about it.
One of the obvious tensions of the show is the geekiness/nerdiness of the main characters. In particular, Sheldon is set-up to be clearly "different." When the show was described to me before watching it I was told that Sheldon had Asperger Syndrome. Doing a little more research I learned that that show's creator did not intend this to be the case and that any similarities in his mannerisms to those of someone with Asperger Syndrome are coincidental. I find the effect of this knowledge fascinating. As someone who has worked with several youth with Aspergers I have a soft spot for people with Aspergers. For that reason my first inclination was to like Sheldon despite the fact that he is generally inconsiderate and highly self-centered. No where in the show is there any mention of what makes Sheldon different and it is clear the creator intended it that way. Sheldon's friends have learned to love Sheldon despite his differences; not because they know he has XYZ (Aspergers, Narcissism, whatever) but because they are his friends and this is what friendship and love are about. We the audience are called upon to do the same thing, to love him or not for who he is.
I think this is a great lesson and reminder when it comes to love and acceptance. We aren't asked to make excuses for other people's faults, or to look for things to blame, whether it is something you can have a diagnosis for like autism, or something more general, like upbringing. Instead we need to love each other, warts and all. We cannot dismiss the things we don't like as being external to the person, but we need to accept them totally. To do anything less just feels like cherry-picking. Should we call on our friends, like Sheldon, to be better people, yes, but we have to do it out of a love that comes first. Not a love that will follow. We ask them to change not so that we can love them, but because we already do love them and we want the best for them. It's what Christ would do ... or really what Christ always does.