Tag Archives: discrimination

Family isn’t always blood

family isn't always blood

Friends are important to us. In cases like mine, they feel closer than family. In many of my posts I’ve mentioned how I’m not close to my extended family because they regard people based on how much money they have and for the longest time my family has been holding the last position on the ladder so needless to say we’ve always been treated like pariahs.

When I look at the things they have done, they feel somewhat petty, but it’s the implication of their actions that make it really painful. I remember this one time we attended a get-together party and one of my paternal granma’s sister was the one serving food. Somehow she managed to serve all the people sitted in the same table with my small sister and I but ignored us.

We didn’t want to create any commotion so we just let that one slide. It was awkward being sitted amidst people who were eating while we weren’t, but since we didn’t feel free around them (based on previous meetings) we kept mum, even though we were extremely famished after travelling for hours to get there.

Later on when everyone was leaving, she invited all of our cousins to go spend the night at her place but again, she failed to invite my sisters and me. It couldn’t have been a coincidence. Devastated, and feeling rejected we drove back home. After holding back tears the whole day, when we got home, mom, who hadn’t attended the get-together opened the door and I just broke down in her arms.

I was a teenager, an age someone might consider old; nonetheless, rejection hurts. Almost all family gatherings I can remember have always left me feeling rejected; and basic conversations are usually targeted at my family, degrading us, making us feel like we’re simply nothing.

Based on this very wanting relationship, I’ve always felt disconnected from my paternal relatives. The cousins I have are the very condescending type, who only focus on one’s lows; what one doesn’t have and those little blasts from the past that make one want to cringe. Someone might disregard their behaviour citing frivolity, but what hurts is that they’re mainly inspired by disdain.

If for instance I have a phone that seems really beautiful, someone will point out it’s nice, then add, “But it only costs…” So if I was really confident I have a nice phone, I will leave feeling like it’s just a cheap phone. Normally what bugs me isn’t the fact that they only see bad things, it’s why they do it. They do it to hurt; to scorn, and that’s what I always find trouble adjusting to. Most of the times I just ignore them but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

And just to prove the point, they will come with new phones the next time there’s a gathering. So basically at the end of the day our relationship with them feels like a competition. I must admit, I do feel envious of big happy families; families where people love without discriminating; where one isn’t hated or loved based on how much wealth they have.

Last weekend, my cousin invited family members to introduce her fiancé. We only live a few blocks apart, but my sisters and I weren’t invited (not that we would have gone anyway, because our encounters always end up badly). We didn’t even know there was any gathering until one of my mom’s sisters-in-law called her to tell her how it went.

Later, my cousin’s mom told mom that my cousin had only invited people who are close to her. That statement hurt for two main reasons: Firstly, we’ve never had any particular disagreement with her that would make us apparent enemies. If we’re not close it’s only because she has always felt her richer cousins were better.

Again, that sounds petty but her actions have never proven otherwise. Secondly, she got pregnant a few years ago and since most of my extended family members are the judgemental type, they shunned her as they didn’t want any embarrassments. At the time her own mom wanted her to get an abortion but because she wanted to keep the baby she was kicked out and we took her in.

The entire time she stayed at our place we were very close. When finally mom managed to talk to her mom, she went back home and even after she gave birth we were still close. When she gave birth, everyone fell in love with the baby and all those who had abandoned her came back. The instant they did, she pushed us-my sisters and I- away.

Everyone was invited for her daughter’s first birthday, except us. We felt used, and ever since, we’ve never been close again.

Owing to that strained relationship I have with the rest of my extended family, I feel closer to some of my friends. Though we’re not related by blood, I feel they are my family, because they don’t judge me and are always there when I need them.

‘Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are.’ That’s a quote I heard some years ago and everytime I hear it I know just how true it is. My friends are my family.

 

Know your worth

know your worth 1

How much are you worth?

I’m always wondering why some people let others treat them like trash. The unfair treatment is mostly attributed to one’s financial status, i.e. if one is considered poor they could be treated unfairly by those who are wealthy. It could also be due to one’s role e.g. in a company; some sub-ordinates really get their fair share of ill-treatment from their conceited honchos. It could also be due to one’s race, gender, sexual orientation…I could just think of so many reasons why some people get undermined.

But question is, is it right? Is it okay to treat someone like a lesser human being because of such inadmissible excuses? In my opinion, it is not. I know some people feel we can’t all be equal; nonetheless, those who wield power/authority shouldn’t oppress those they feel are below them. I empathize an awful lot with people who get treated badly at work, yet can’t quit because they need the money. They know they deserve to be treated better; still they take it all stoically. No one should be maltreated, especially if they didn’t do anything to warrant such torment. Like with one’s race; if one isn’t proud of who/what are, they can change their nationality, but if they are Asian, African, white etc. they will still remain as such. Some things just can’t be changed.

Relationships also come with their own baggage; some partners could be so abusive. There are those who will break their mates down, pointing out their flaws blatantly, in an attempt to shatter their self-confidence. Subsequently, the victim ends up despising themselves, under the illusion that they are repulsive and no one else, but their abusive mate could really love them. So, no matter how oppressed they feel, they never get the courage to walk out of the relationship.

know your worth

One thing I would love to point out is that each individual is worth so much, and therefore deserves to be treated better. It may be hard for someone in a difficult situation to believe this, but this is the absolute truth. For instance, a recovering drug addict might feel they deserve to be ill-treated by other people because they got themselves into that mess in the first place; nonetheless, that shouldn’t be the case. Truth is we all make mistakes; however, one’s past faults, especially when they are trying to right their wrongs, shouldn’t be used against them.

know your worth 2

So, how much are you worth? (One need not attach a price tag to it). Point is, one should know their worth. Many settle for less, failing to realize they should be treated better, because they don’t know/believe they could be worth much. Colour, race, financial status, gender…etc. shouldn’t be used as an excuse to be treated unfairly.

 

God doesn’t discriminate

In the world we live in there’s so much proclivity for physical beauty. In an average girl’s eyes, a cute guy is one who is tall, and bears a six pack. In an average guy’s eyes on the other hand, a beautiful woman is one who has voluptuous boobs, an endowed bum and basically has an hour glass shape. That is how we measure beauty. But does God judge the same way?

In 1 Samuel 16: 1-13, The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you continue grieving over Saul? I have rejected him as king of Israel. But now get some olive oil and go to Bethlehem, to a man named Jesse, because I have chosen one of His sons to be king.”

“How can I do that?” Samuel asked. “If Saul hears about it he will kill me!”

The Lord answered, “Take a calf with you and say that you are there to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will tell you what to do. You will anoint as king, the man I tell you to.”

Samuel did what the Lord told him to do and went to Bethlehem, where the city leaders came trembling to meet him and asked, “Is this a peaceful visit, seer?”

“Yes,” he answered. “I have come to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. Purify yourselves and come with me.” He also told Jesse and his sons to purify themselves and he invited them to the sacrifice. When they arrived, Samuel saw Jesse’s son Eliab and said to himself, “This man standing here in the Lord’s presence is surely the one He has chosen.”

But the Lord said to him, “Pay no attention to how tall and handsome he is. I have rejected him, because I do not judge as man judges. Man looks at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart.”

Then Jesse called his son Abinadab and brought him to Samuel. But Samuel said, “No, the Lord hasn’t chosen him either.” Jesse then brought Shammah. “No, the Lord hasn’t chosen him either,” Samuel said. In this way Jesse brought seven of his sons to Samuel. And Samuel said to him, “No, the Lord hasn’t chosen any of these.” Then he asked him, “Do you have any more sons?”

Jesse answered, “There is still the youngest, but he is out taking care of the sheep.”

“Tell him to come,” Samuel said. “We won’t offer the sacrifice until he comes.” So Jesse sent for him. He was a handsome, healthy young man, and his eyes sparkled. The lord said to Samuel, “This is the one-anoint him!” Samuel took the olive oil and anointed David in front of his brothers. Immediately the Spirit of the Lord took control of David and was with him from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.

Naturally, if it was just some random human being looking to choose a king, they would have picked Eliab; he was tall and handsome. Even Samuel thought he would be anointed as king. And after God rejected him, one would expect one of his other brothers- except David- would be chosen. But God surprised them all when He picked David, who was the youngest and smallest of Jesse’s sons. No one saw it coming.

God made it evidently clear; He, unlike human beings, doesn’t look at the outward appearance; He looks at the heart. Sometimes when one is feeling so downcast, they feel God wouldn’t look their way either because they have committed something they feel guilty about or because they suffer from a certain disease.

The readings above make one thing irrefutably certain; He doesn’t see the blemishes; He doesn’t see the crime committed; He only looks at the heart. If one feels God wouldn’t consider them for a favour, they shouldn’t look at their physical appearance, but their heart. Therefore, in my opinion, we should not judge people by their appearances but by their hearts, just as God, whom we serve does.

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’; that is an adage I heard when I was very small. It doesn’t apply to books only. If one decided to judge a book’s contents based on its cover, there are numerous books that would be gathering dust on bookshelves, unread. I speak from experience; if the books I’ve read are anything to go by, some of the books with the most unattractive covers turn out to be the most interesting.

love thy neighbour

That said, next time don’t disregard someone just because they don’t match your expectations. They could surprise you-in a good way of course. Give people a chance; let them show you who they are. If you end up dismissing them, let it not be because you assumed them, but because you have interacted with them and don’t like them. Whatever the case, don’t judge; don’t discriminate.

Fifth station: Simon helps Jesus carry His cross

Fifth station-Simon helps Jesus carry the cross

Reflection

My Jesus, Your tormentor’s enlisted a Simon of Cyrene to help You carry Your cross. Your humility is beyond my comprehension. Your power upheld the whole universe and yet You permit one of your creatures to help You carry a cross. I imagine Simon was reluctant to take part in Your shame. He had no idea that all who watched and jeered at Him would pass into oblivion while his name would go down in history as the one who helped his God in need.

Is it not so with me, dear Jesus? Even when I reluctantly carry my cross as Simon did, it benefits my soul. If I keep my eyes on You and watch how You suffered, I will be able to bear my cross with greater fortitude. Were you trying to tell all those who suffer prejudice to have courage?

Was Simon a symbol of those who are hated because of race, colour and creed?

Prayer

Simon wondered as he took those beams upon his shoulders, why he was chosen for such a heavy burden and now he knows. Help me Jesus, to trust Your loving providence as You permit suffering to weave itself in and out of my life. Make me understand that You looked at it and held it fondly before You passed it on to me.

You watch me and give me the strength just as You did Simon. When I enter your kingdom, I shall know as he knows, what marvels Your cross has wrought in my soul.

Amen.

It pays to be beautiful?

A beautiful lady can get all she wants? Is that the case really? Some people say a beautiful lady can get everything she wants. If it’s true? Well, you be the judge of that.

When Tyra Banks used to host her talk show, she carried out an experiment to see how people treated women based on their looks. A beautiful woman, used in the social experiment confessed she always got favours from people because she believed she was beautiful. To confirm if she was telling the truth or was just getting good treatment out of the beauty of people’s hearts, Tyra’s make-up team transformed the beautiful swan into an ugly duckling. Apparently even makeup can be used to create unattractiveness.

I watched the show a couple of years back but if my memory serves me right they gave the lady some artificial freckles, buck teeth…whatever the society perceives to be ugly. After the ‘uglifying’ transformation, Tyra sent the same lady out into the street.

Turns out the lady was right. When she dropped some of her stuff ‘accidentally’ on the sidewalk, no guy rushed to help her. Who would care to waste precious time on a buck-toothed lady, with a ‘pancaked’ face (sorry for the choice of word, that’s how a guy I’m friends with on FB describes acned faces)?

The hypothesis being tested was that beautiful people are treated well by the rest of the populace. If it was proven true or false? In my perspective it was proven true. Unfortunately, the world we live in glorifies beauty. It puts so much emphasis on physical beauty. What about inner beauty? If you ask me that’s the real beauty.

After the experiment was conducted, the lady obviously washed her face and went back to being beautiful. I couldn’t help but wonder, what about the one who has buck teeth for real? What about the overweight woman who won’t take the fat suit off and resume their slim selves because they’re naturally big?

Personally, I can relate to the story. See, as I got into puberty during my teens, I got my fair share of acne spots. Tried getting treatment but my doctor said they would fade with time and that if I was overzealous in trying to clear them I could end up damaging my face. I opted to be patient. To be honest, at first I found them unattractive but slowly I got used to them and now I tend to think I would look weird without them as they haven’t cleared completely and I’ve gotten used to them.

I posted a pic on FB, still with the spots, but somehow because the photo was taken at a close range the spots were so visible. A guy I chat with regularly commented, “Are those spots on your face or it’s my screen that’s dirty?” I would be lying if I said the comment didn’t hurt. I took a moment to count backwards, so I wouldn’t give him a rude reply.

“Those are acne spots. And I think I look beautiful even with them. Sometimes I feel I’ll look weird when they clear because I’ve gotten used to them,” was my reply.

The guy, a different one, who posted next commented, “You’re strong lady.” I assumed that was in reference to the reply I gave. He’s my friend, and I presumed he’d realized I hadn’t let the other guy’s comment tear me down.

One thing I’ve always said is that if one feels there’s a part of their body that makes them look less attractive, they should embrace it and think of themselves as beautiful. I noticed that when someone has some doubts about themselves, their self-esteem will be crushed if someone else points out the same thing; with my acne for instance. If I looked at my spots as a defect, by now I would be sinking under tonnes of hurtful comments.

I would wish I didn’t have them, and even though my doctor said they would clear eventually, I still have them. And if I think they make me look less beautiful? Absolutely not. I appreciate how I look in my entirety. That’s how I know beauty comes from within. One has to believe they are beautiful before anyone else tells them. It doesn’t matter if one looks in the mirror and sees things they feel people would criticize. It doesn’t matter if it’s a few pounds one hopes they could just shed off, or a big scar on the face after surviving an accident, or a big forehead, like Tyra’s (still think she looks beautiful regardless), or small boobs, or a flat bum, or if one’s thighs touch, or a crooked nose, or lips that are not particularly full…etc. Whatever it is, think of it as beautiful.

It won’t matter what anyone else thinks if one accepts and loves who they are.

true beauty

What defines ‘beautiful’?

I believe we all have something we wished we could change about ourselves. But truth is, most of the time our perspective on beauty is so skewed. Plus there’s that other fact; beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. What one perceives beautiful might not be beautiful to someone else. All that matters is that one loves themselves.

The society might take ages to realize that everyone’s beautiful in their own right, and that a beautiful personality is what makes a person truly beautiful; but until that day comes (if it ever does), I feel that people should appreciate who they are, with all their flaws.