How can we believe that one’s skin color, girth or age makes them more or less likable?
|Inside And Out
By Marilyn Mackenzie
Open the package
And look inside
I’m more than
The eye can see
Twinkling blue eyes
And still blonde hair
Just the wrappings
Of the me that’s me
The Bible says that God looks at what’s in our heart, not how we look. Why can’t we do that as well?
How can we possibly believe that one’s skin color or girth makes someone more or less likable? How can we think that the labels of the clothing someone wears or the kind of car they drive makes them more or less successful?
When did graying hair become a liability? In days past, we gleaned wisdom from our elders. Now we tuck them away in retirement villages and nursing homes. We grow weary at the repetition of their stories. But those stories probably hold the secrets, the keys, to what has gone wrong in the world around us. Our ears are deaf; we refuse to hear the wisdom within their words.
Much has been said about when and how our world became so selfish. There are many who believe that when reading the Bible and morning prayers were taken from our schools, that our world started to crumble.
I think taking those things from our classrooms did begin our downward spiral. But there were other things that attributed to the fact that we look down upon those around us, no matter their color or size or age.
Children are left to their own devices when they arrive home from school. Stay-at-home moms are a rarity. Gone are the days when mom was there waiting with milk and cookies, ready to hear about the day’s activities. In her place are music videos, TV shows, video games and Internet friends.
People insist that two incomes are necessary in this world, but I wonder if this would be true if we weren’t so fascinated in acquiring more possessions. My neighbors all moan about not being able to make ends meet, about being so much in debt. But they wouldn’t dream of having only one vehicle, or even of keeping their cars for more than three or four years. As the prices of cars climb, their monthly car payments are equal to or greater than their rent payments, and the length of loans has gone from a maximum of three years to a maximum of six years.
Their children insist on designer clothing, on buying each type of game system when it arrives on the market. When they turn sixteen, these same kids have to buy new cars. Gone are the days of having to borrow the family car, or of buying a cheap older car and fixing it up.
In days of old, couples bought a small, older home first, then worked their way up to larger and newer homes as their families grew and their incomes increased. Now, young couples think they have to start out with a gorgeous new and big home. Is it any wonder they have so much debt? Or that mom will have to work when the kids are born?
As a young woman, I was convinced that women’s liberation was important. It was important in some ways. I certainly still believe that women should get equal pay for equal jobs. But that movement portrayed the role of a stay-at-home mom as inferior and we all believed that.
What we all should have realized was that the role of mother is one of the most important roles in every child’s life. Rather than de-valuing the role of mother, we should have elevated it to where it should have always been. We should have been proud, not ashamed, of women who chose this role. Churches should have stepped up and offered classes about the Proverbs 31 woman, or should have shown what an excellent pattern of motherhood that Mary, the mother of Jesus, gave us.
Our children should have been allowed and encouraged to play, to fantasize, to read, to roller skate and ride their bikes. We should have understood that watching TV or playing video and computer games could not replace these things.
Family time should have remained important to us, and family dinners. Sharing what happened during the day while we ate dinner together helped us develop close family ties, helped us learn to love and protect each other.
In my state, when a couple with minor children decides to divorce, they must take classes about helping their children cope with the divorce. Wouldn’t it be great if couples had to take classes about parenting before the kids were born? Wouldn’t it be great if divorce wasn’t so easy, and marriages weren’t considered throwaways?
In days gone by, every mom, and many dads, were involved in our children’s education by being active in Parent Teacher Associations and by spending time as room mothers. Dads came to school to talk about their jobs. We knew what was being taught and we were an active part of that process. Now, we relegate all teaching responsibilities to teachers and school administrators. The Bible tells us that parents are responsible for teaching their children. When and why did we abdicate that responsibility?
A very wise man told me that the changes in how we react to others is caused by the fact that instead of learning to love and respect others, we are now taught to tolerate them. He may just have a point, for the word “tolerance” has become a buzzword.
There is quite a difference between respecting and tolerating. Tolerance means sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own. Respect means we have a high or special regard.
Respect and love go hand in hand. One definition of love is an unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another or a brotherly concern for another.
God, our Father and Creator of this wonderful world, gave us an excellent instruction manual, which we all tend to forget and neglect. Jesus told us that the most important things we can do are to love God and love our neighbor.
If we truly loved our neighbor, defined, of course as every man, woman and child, if we showed an unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for everyone around us, there would be little need for affirmative action. The color of one’s skin, the size and shape of one’s body, the age of each individual would be unimportant, if we truly loved and respected each and every one.
How we are inspired to write is an individual thing, one that often even changes. Sometimes I am inspired to write by watching the sun rise or set, or by seeing children play.
Today, I was inspired to write this because of something I read and by the quick exchange the writer and I had afterwards. The item I read is no longer available to read. But this was my response:
An excellent write. I'm sorry you've had to experience these things. You're right that prejudice is learned.
When my son was in kindergarten, in a class of only 6 kids, he excitedly told me about one of the girls in his class. His dad and I had been teaching him the importance of learning people's names, but he couldn't remember her name. In such a small class, that shouldn't have been hard. I asked if he was talking about the girl with blonde hair. He wasn't. I asked if he was talking about the black girl. He matter-of-factly told me there were no black kids in his classroom.
His classroom held kindergarten through 2nd grade and there were probably 5 black children out of 25. At the age of 5, he didn't even know they were black. They were just his friends.
My son has very pale skin, so pale that I was once studied by Children's Protective Services because they thought I might be making him stay in a closet. But each day, he spent hours outside in his sandbox. He just didn't burn or tan, and still doesn't.
Throughout his 18 years, he's experienced some real teasing about that pale skin. Although it's been mostly "poking fun," at different times, it's been really hurtful to his spirit. Because of that, he's so much more aware of the mean things people say and do regarding our differences.
In our local mall, teens of all races are watched and followed, sometimes quite openly, because the merchants are of the mindset that ALL teens shoplift. That, too, has made my son aware of how unfair people can be in their prejudices.
Thanks for sharing this. It's a wonderful reminder for us all.
I was about five years old before I ever encountered anyone with darker skin than my own. I’ve written about that too: