In today’s lesson “B” was for BEACH! What a perfect day to be at the beach, not only did it break record heat, but we didn’t have to worry about competing with anyone for beach space since it was midweek. You’d think that spending the entire day jumping waves and playing on the sand would have my kids exhausted, but apparently the drive back home was enough of a power nap to reenergize them for a LONG, full day.
For our educational portion of the day we discussed something that is very important and dear to me – race, discrimination, and differences. Seeing that today is the longest day of the year, I figured I’d stretch this blog entry a little longer as well and elaborate on a few things… so consider yourself warned, this will be a lengthier entry. We read Black, White, Just Right! by Marguerite W. Davol to get the ball rolling. As a previous rape and bullying counselor we identified that prejudicial notions were instilled at a surprisingly young age and I wanted to see how my own kids were doing, or actually how we as parents had been doing in teaching them not to build prejudicial notions. So I asked the simple question of which color was better, the white, black, or mixed colored person in the book and my heart filled with joy when my oldest said they’re all the best. There’s many other ways you can pose the question, “which color is mean, nice, beautiful, ugly, scary, popular, etc.” It may sound awful or silly, but it will illustrate if their minds associate a color as being superior or not, in which case if they do it’s an opportunity to teach and clarify, explaining that they’re all beautiful and it’s not about a person exterior but who they are as a person.
We can’t really tap ourselves on the back for being successful with this milestone with the kids because we come from a multicultural family so they’ve always been exposed to a lot of diversity. We have also had the unique opportunity of living abroad where my kids had the experience of being among the minority rather than the majority. When deciding to put them into the Korean school system I was hesitant because it brought back memories of when I had been the minority in the American school system as an immigrant and I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t welcomed with opened arms. Instead I was bullied and discriminated against and I feared that my children were going to have to endure what I endured. Instead, Koreans welcomed my little American children with opened arms, probably a little too much because they became the center of attention and got away with more than they probably should have. I don’t know if it was because of the “western” fever or simply because they’re taught respect at home, perhaps a combination of both?
I don’t want to discuss just race or color; I want to broaden this even more. I want to discuss something that has been on the headlines more often than I think anyone ever wants to see, kids who have been bullied to death! To build my case, I started a simple web search on death and bullying in 2012 alone and I sincerely made myself stop because there was more than any parent would ever want to see. From 12-year old Holly Stuckey of UK, 13-year old Asher Brown of Texas, 14-year old Kenneth Weishuhn Jr. of Iowa, 15-year old Amanda Cummings of New York, to 16-year old Christian Taylor of Virginia … enough… it simply showed that it didn’t matter your age, what state or even country you’re from, the only thing in common was that each child was different. By different I mean that they didn’t fit in the mold and they stood out, they were an easy target to pick at. Now let me go ahead and call it was it really is – this is discrimination and harassment. I don’t know why exactly we see the need to find a new name for a concept that isn’t so new, perhaps because the offenders are younger? Are we surprised that the offenders are younger? What did we expect?
This isn’t a hypothetical question. With the explosion of the internet and technology our “adult” actions are no longer kept behind closed doors, but are rather exposed web-wide and on basic cable network. No one wants to hear this, no one wants to take responsibility – we all want to point fingers, spread blame to everyone but today I don’t want to spread blame to anyone I want all of us to take personal responsibility. All our little guilty pleasures are ultimately the fault of all the horrible headlines that we read. We love watching the catfights on tv, scandals, love affairs, backstabbing, anorexic, trashy, perverse, and racy shows, with all those wonderful vocabulary… and we try to fool ourselves that little by little we don’t pick up those habits or that our kids don’t. The funniest part is when we, as role-models, pull the “do as I say, not as I do;” did that ever work for you as a child? Why would it work now?
Now let’s get a little deeper. When speaking about being an example unto our children, that means in all areas of our lives, so as a Christian it really gets under my skin when I hear other Christians preach to me what they think is right or wrong, I can only imagine how a non-Christian feels… oh wait, I also know how that feels because that’s what kept me away from my relationship from Christ for so long. I bring this up because I think Christians are also guilty of contributing to “bullying” if that’s what you want to call it, or as I’ll bluntly put it – harassment and discrimination. Of what you may ask? Of those who live in sin, of course. But it makes me want to shake them and remind them that we are all sinners, we sin every day, because as Romans 3:23 tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and that is exactly why we need Him or else we wouldn’t need Him because we’d be so good and perfect all by ourselves. I also want to remind all the Christians with “good intentions” of Matthew 7:5 where they should be first concerned about removing the plank out of their own eye, so that they can see clearly to remove the speck from their brother’s eye. Ultimately if you want to make a difference, be an example and perhaps bite your tongue and only share your thoughts and opinions when they’re asked.
On the same token there are the non-Christians who start pointing their fingers and grouping all of us together and generalizing us. Do you know what you’re doing? You’re “bullying,” you’re harassing and discriminating against me and my faith! For some outrageous reason there are always groups of self-elected superiors who know more and are above all, so they can simply go around telling whoever they please whether they are right or wrong. Next time you find yourself doing that, ask yourself… “Am I repeating the same action? One of the kids that committed suicide due to bullying was bullied because he was gay; another was bullied because of her Christian faith… what makes either one okay? Do you see that ultimately we, as adults, are being the examples unto these kids? Instead we need to watch our actions and be good examples for them to follow, not ridicule the Christian for their faith and beliefs nor judge the gay or anyone who is different. If we were all to focus on improving ourselves a little more and focus less on others, I believe we would all end up in a better place.
Backtracking to race and color, it’s aggravating how we’re allowing media and politics to manipulate something that is so sensitive. Christianity and sexual orientation is something personal, with that we can choose when to conceal it whereas our race and color is something that is always exposed. Because tension, confrontation, and a good story is what sells… the media seems to love to add wood to the fire whenever they can, as is the case with any interracial crime. Our very own president likes to pull the race card, because he can… honestly he’s pulling all cards that he can but I won’t go there (I’ll put in my two cents really quick, if his intentions are truly noble then don’t accept a single dime from the group he’s claiming to support… on that note make a cap-off on all monetary donations for future presidential nominees and candidates so that when elections are done they are based on character and content rather than a popularity and monetary game – done and done). The entire race issue is becoming a fiasco in an era where you’d think that we’re educated enough to be able to know that we’re all people seeking the same things and this isn’t a game – we’re not in The Hunger Games where the media or anything else can just try to set us up against one another so that we can go after each other.
To bring this all back full-circle to the book we read with the kids, it doesn’t matter how different we are… black, white, Christian, Jewish, gay, lesbian… we are ALL made in God’s image and we are all just right. I leave you with a suggestion, that we should all follow John 13:34 “Love one another, as I have loved you.” He loves us and accepts us just as we are, we don’t need to change anything about us for His love because His grace is enough. Only then could we hope that such actions will speak loud enough that we won’t have to worry about what we say, because our actions will speak for itself and there will be hope for the next generation.
What are your thoughts about this matter?