Saturday, July 2, 2011

Join Me In Trying To Make A Difference

You know, I always try to reach out and help others and for those people that have blessed me over the years (you know who you are), I am deeply grateful! Whether it be loving words of encouragement, fabric, a quick note letting me know keep pressing on, the wonderful books I have received or even a note telling me you contributed to one of my many quilting charities or let me know about one you donate to....................I appreciate it!

Not everyone agrees with my posts and I appreciate the chance to be able to talk about those differences whether it be politically, what our core values are or what we believe to be the gospel. I have many friends that are Christian, Catholic, Mormon and even Buddahist...our differences is what makes us unique.

Thanks to the book I have referenced recently that I received and yes Dayna, read from cover to cover, I want to encourage us all as Ron Hall and Denver Moore do at the end of their book entitled, 'same kind of different As me,' to participate in this study with me. You don't need the book, but if you do, you can probably get a copy from the local library.

I want to finish this study and then with permission, I would like to forward the book to my oldest granddaughter who recently turned 16 and have a large Sweet 16 party. When I asked her if she was going to have people contribute with canned food for the food bank, pet food for the local animal shelter, get them to volunteer, her sad reply was: 'you know grandma, I don't think any of my friends are into that stuff.'

I love her to pieces, but think it was more like, 'you know grandma, I am 16 and me and my party are pretty important right now, not getting involved in stuff like that.' So, with that said, lets get this party rolling!

The book is full of prejudices and things I couldn't wrap my mind around, but knew existed from my experiences of living in New Orleans in the 1980's for a few short weeks. I kept calling my husband and saying, 'you can't believe they still have 'black stores or white stores, what is up with that?'

My dad was in the Army for a bit and I was raised in California an while my grandparents were extremely prejudiced, I stayed away from all that, finding it appalling someone would actually count the number of non-white people on a team and root for the one with more whites. My mind could never wrap itself around that.

So, without further adieu, the first 4 questions and my answers:
1- What are some modern examples of prejudice? Other than racial prejudice, what other kinds of prejudice are common today?
Answer: Where should I start? Homophobia is a type of prejudice where people use the Bible to hate others. I believe you can hate the behaviour, but still love the person.
Homelessness: People are afraid of the homeless as they might ask them for money, smell bad, act weird, remind us we may someday be like them! In my town, we have a old woman that stands near WalMart holding a sign she needs money for her grandchildrens cereal and milk...well, I happen to know her grandchildren, they are grown live with their parents, are embarassed about her behavior & she is neither homeless nor needs the money. Another man stands asking for work and when I worked out of the home, I offered him a job...lets just say I can't repeat what he told me.

Years ago, I met a black gentleman that was standing on the side of the road, he had a sign propped up against a bucket...but he wasn't holding it, he had a large trash bag and was picking up the trash along the roadside and he was singing Amazing Grace in a beautiful voice. I pulled over where it was safe and perhaps not the smartest thing, I walked over to him with the last $10 I had. He started crying.

People think I am going to spend it on beer. Not me, I don't like being here, but he told me his story, he was a Viet Nam vet, worked as an over the road trucker, raised his children, sent them to college and had a major heart attack and couldn't work any longer. He didn't retire from the military, so he didn't have a pension, but did receive medical. He was in the horribly, long drawn out & demoralizing process of applying for Social Security. His wife worked earning minimal wage & when the money ran out, he took to the corner, humiliated and embarrassed.

The didn't qualify for food stamps, medical, or cash because his wives meager paycheck was to much for them to be eligible. We talked about the Bible ( Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth) and I walked away with tears in my eyes.

I looked for him each time I drove in to Phoenix, but never saw him again.

I could have just drove on that day, but I didn't.

Societal prejudices. Here in my city, the higher up you live, the higher in the air your nose goes, parents buy their children jeans at $150 a pop and Gawd forbid, you are a grandparent raising your grandchildren, they won't look at you and when they do, you can feel their disdain.

What about job prejudices? How many people are without jobs because companies refuse to hire those that are not working, think because they were laid off, they are less than those than haven't been?

Reverse prejudices? My daughter-in-law has lost 2 jobs because and she was told this by one of the leads...honey, you may be hispanic, but you speak English and want your breaks, they don't!

2- What are three things you can do to combat your personal prejudices?
#1- Volunteer...not just once but over and over again. If you are around those you are afraid of, you might find out they aren't so scary! A few years ago when I was working with Americorps, I went into our local mission that feeds the street kids & people had made me fear these kids by what they said. I found out were real jerks. Most of them however, wanted jobs, a safe place to live, to get out of the rain, to help others. They were just kids looking for affirmation.
#2-Read up on those things you are afraid of, educate yourself, talk to someone about these things...I knew a friend who was terrified of being around anyone who had Aids or was homosexual, right up until she began volunteering at a local crisis nursery. Education is often the key to loosing prejudice.
#3-Face your prejudice head on! Sometimes our prejudices are learned behavior we grew up with. Much like the sharecroppers Denver Moore talking about...they grew up in that environment and believed they were right.

#3- What does being prejudiced say about our own personal self-esteem? To me it shows many times we are to self-absorbed, that we feel we are better than others. We hold ourselves higher than anyone else. I will never forget when I began working as a volunteer in the schools, people were shocked that I had a Masters Degree. Why? Because if I was working for Americorps than I had to be uneducated or poor.
We get this feeling of,'that will never be me...' which leads us to prejudice against other people!

4- Read Micha 6:8 (I will put it here); 'He has showed you, O man, what is good, And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.'
What does this verse say about the attitude we should have toward other people?
Answer: I am not perfect, I do my best to reach out to others, but at times my eyes avert away from the people on the roadways...our town is small, the same people day in and day out stand on the roadway, I have seen people getting out of Cadillacs, grabbing their sign and walkers. I give where I can. I donate where I can, I talk to everyone. I drive by these people and sometimes all I can do is ask God to bless them. I have given them socks, gloves, blankets, etc.

My son is homeless, he has made the papers where he lives, my heart shatters that so many people can have mean and nasty opinions of him and they don't even know him. You can't go up to someone and say, 'so tell me, why don't you work, have a job, a family, what is your problem?' But you can be kind and sometimes being kind is the nicest thing anyone has done for them all day or week.

Chime in here, if we want to make a difference, it can take one person or many. I have seen children making a difference and I know if they can do it, I can.

It is okay to have a differing opinion than I do, we just can't belittle, be rude or attack people in this forum. Jump on board and let me hear how you feel!


Dayna said...

Glad you found the book thought provoking and inspiring. There are so many prefudices out there today. Some big...some small. Working with the public I see it all the time. I try to teach the young girls working for me to look past the outside. That obese woman who comes in and buys lots of flannel fabric is battling an illness but makes blankets for the hospital to wrap stillborn babies in so parents can hold them. That lady with the burns all over suffers terribly and there is no need to stare or make nasty remarks. She works with others who have disfigurements so they can get on with their lives. The customer who doesn't want one of the girls to wait on her because she thinks she looks like a vampire. She is pale skinned and has black hair, very intelligent young woman who speaks three languages, paints, plays beautiful music and is attending college and she has epilepsy and donates time on campus helping people understand the condition and what to do if they see someone have a seizure.
Pass the books on to whomever you choose. May God bless them each with something as they read them.

Quiltingranny said...

Thanks for the awesome feedback Dayna.Reminds me of the time Jerry and I went into a Montgomery Wards looking for a solid oak dining set with $5K in our pocket. It was a hot Phoenix day, we just got off a long Harley ride. The salesman first ignored us and not liking that I told him what we were looking for, he showed us everything but what I and cheaper junk. I asked him why he wasn't showing me the stuff I wanted. He looked at us and said look at yourselves and tell me...Jerry flipped out the cash and said,'look & this and let me see a manager so you can explain how you just lost the store a sale.' So many people do wonderful things and we must get beyond the looks thing!