A fictional story which makes a non-fictional point about discrimination.
|Gary O'Reiley was a mortician by trade, having followed in the footsteps of his father, a burly Irishman. He had been born in his native land of Ireland, but was transplanted to the United States at the age of six.
Adjusting to the fast pace of living in New York was both exciting and scary for Gary. It was the first time he had ever seen so many "different" people ... many of whom spoke languages that he didn't understand. His father explained that people from all over the world came to America looking for a better life. This was why there were people with different colored skin, different languages, and different beliefs.
In school, Gary learned much more. History was his favorite subject and he was transfixed when the teacher spent a week teaching about the first people to call America their home...the Native Americans. With space unlimited and wildlife abundant, these people lived humbly on the land that accepted them without question. It all sounded so right and good.
Time changes things, of course, and as Gary grew up, he became well acquainted with the reality of discrimination, prejudice and hatred. In one word, he found it ugly! As a mortician, he saw people from all walks of life and all nationalities and from his perspective, they were all the same!
One night a terrible fire broke out in a warehouse, killing seven workers. Gary would be working around-the-clock preparing those who had lost their lives for burial. They were all burned nearly beyond recognition, but all had charred wallets that helped identify them. Gary couldn't stop the tears from running down his cheeks. Just then, Marco, one of the tough bullies from the neighborhood walked in. "Hey Gary, did that fire get rid of a few of the low life around here?" Knowing he meant anyone other than white and US born, he decided to help the guy enter the world of reality.
"I'll tell you what, I have seven bodies here. If you can identify the nationality of even four of them, I'll buy you a bottle of whiskey." Marco's eye's lit up with anticipation, making it clear he was eager and willing.
Marco briefly hesitated as he stepped into the mortuary where Gary had the seven men laid on tables, each covered with a white sheet. "OK Marco, all of these victims have lost their hair as well as most of their skin. Not a pretty site but the whiskey will flow if you still think you can identify the background of four of them."
Even though his confidence had waned, Marco was not the type to back out of a challenge. "Let me see 'em!" he barked.
Gary drew the sheets back and waved his daring friend to begin.
Before he would say a word, Marco slowly walked past each body, noting any obvious differences. When he felt ready, he began the challenge in earnest.
...Table 1: "This man is much smaller than the other six. It's obvious to me that he was of Asian descent."
...Table 2: "This guy was an obvious alcoholic...look at that liver and the big beer gut! Probably one of the Native Americans."
...Table 3: "Now this guy has broad head bones. I'd bet he was from Norway or Sweden."
...Table 4: "Hmmm, another heavy drinker I'd say, but this one maybe of German descent."
The challenge complete, Marco smuggly told Gary it was time for him to pay up. "Not this time," Gary replied. "You only nailed one of the four...the poor soul on table three."
"The size of an individual is no indicator of race. The man on table one was actually from France, working to help pay his way through medical school. Your assumptions about the man on table two were so biased I will not comment further, except to say he was from Canada. As for the man on table four, I knew him personally...a solid family man who worked hard and only drank on the holidays."
At that, he ushered Marco to the door, locked it behind him, and went back to his all night job of preparing the victims as best he could for their families to say their last good-byes.
Just as I was brought up with the guidance to "Never Judge a Book by it's Cover"
the same applies to people! So often, people judge people solely by the way they look
or by who their family is. By doing this, we often forfeit some of the best friendships we
could ever hope to have."