Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chain Reaction

"Just because an animal is large, it doesn't mean he doesn't want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo."
~A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Someone asked me quite awhile ago to do a blog on being judged by appearance. I struggled with the idea for months, never finding an angle that flowed, until my daughter started talking about racism.

It's not something you'd think happened much in today's society but it apparently still has a form.  I remember my grandfather, someone who had a huge heart, use all of the negative terms we gasp at if heard today. In fact, when I called to tell him I was adopting a daughter from China he was so thrilled he cried. Of course then he said, "We're going to have a chink in the family." I explained how much I loved him but from that moment on he was never to use that word again.

So my beautiful daughter occasionally hears the ethnic jokes or gets some idiot making their eyes slant. Thankfully she is a smart little firecracker. Her come-backs are lacking though-we need to work on those.

But whether it's your race, weight, appearance, religion, sexual orientation or a physical impairment the judgement is still much more prevalent than it should be.

I know a fantastic woman who is smart, funny and a great mom who just happens to love body art, otherwise known as tattoos. But unfortunately there are still people out there that equate tattoos with a lower IQ or even moral compass. I myself have two tattoos and I've actually had family members make "interesting" comments about them as if it diminishes me in some way.

I have a deaf friend who discusses the "level of deafness." For some things she wants to do she's too deaf, in others she's not deaf enough. And this is according to people that should be the most accepting of her.

I had dinner the other night with a friend who discussed always being the fat girl in school. Often kids are the most judgmental but my ex-husband had what I would call an obesity aversion. The comments he would make would appall me and I would get so angry that things were said in front of my children.

So how do we keep people from passing judgement on others?
I have no idea.
I've only ever had to deal with short jokes or comments. I've been short-stack, squirt, pocket-size, midget....etc.
But my friend's daughter calls it "fun size." I like that one. Or sometimes I'm vertically challenged.

I guess the best we can do when someone passes judgement is to prove them wrong. Like when students admit to me that they didn't think I would be able to instruct what I do. Then they take the class and, well, I prove them wrong.

I'm never going to prove to someone I'm not short but I can prove that it doesn't hold me back from anything...except maybe getting things off of a high shelf without a stool. My friend will never not be tattooed but spend 30 seconds with her and you'll know she's amazing. My daughter will never not be of Chinese descent but she is proud, beautiful, smart and will make so much more of herself partly because she is from an amazing heritage.

What we can do to stop the cycle is stop it ourselves. Look at everyone we meet as interesting and unique, with their own gift to give us, unless they prove otherwise.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
~ Maya Angelou

Let everyone you meet feel like they are special, worthy and real. You might be surprised the chain reaction that occurs.







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