You are different, praise God! Yet because you are different you suffer for your identity. For the way the Good Lord in His infinite wisdom created you.
I learned about the injustices levied at those who are different in grade school There were six of us kids who were different in one way or another, and we were shunned by the rest of the class. There was my closest girlfriend, Antonia who’s mother was Russian and father was English. Everyone thought sure, she being Russian she was a spy from Russia…we were in the cold war after all and Russians were not received favorably. There was my other girlfriend, Erika, who seemed a little pudgy, she was jeered at for being pump. No one thought about the fact of herediary and ethinic background being the result of this sweet child’s weight problem. Then there was Enrique, a nice Mexican kid from a very poor family. No one liked him becaue he wore hand-me-down clothes. Tito loved to eat his mom’s Italian cooking, and his physique showed it. He got teased unmercifully because of being so roly-poly.
Marty was short, shy and willing to go along with whatever the rest of us thought best. The rest of the class called him “shirmpy” and the bigger boys bullied him. I have a vision impairment, I don’t see three dimensiional. Thus I tripped on cracks in the sidewalk, often had balls hit me in the head, and was terrible at playing any kind of ball games. (It’s kind of hard to kick or hit something that looks like a saucer to find out it has volume and form!) I got tormented about being clumsey. This sitution continued from third grade through fifth grade. In sixth grade our teacher, firmly told the class, “no parties, if there are any acts of unkindness. No tormenting, teasing, saying unkind words, or snubbing, we will get along with each other.” Miracles upon miracles, this was the first time we six, known as the “odd balls” were finally included in activities of the rest of the class, it was the first time we didn’t have to take the “isolation” table at lunch and eat by ourselves. And did we party!
Junior high, I was asked to assist two blind girls who were in my class. The campus had a special facility for blind students. Most of the time Brandy and Carmen didn’t need a lot of assistance. We three became such good friends, I wasn’t mindful that Brandy was Afro-American and that Carmen was Mexican. They were just my dearest friends. Yet, they were shunned and often received unkind remarks. We had a lot of hugs to bolster each other (yeah, I was shunned for being friends with them).
In college, I tutored in special education, the learning impaired and physically challenged. As a result, I spent part of my tutoring time, consoling and counseling students who were rudely intreated by not only the more “normal” students on campus, but often instructors. I had a P.E. insturctor lower my grade by one full grade when she learned I was tutoring these special students.
While in college I had the opportunity to take a music class under the instruction of a very brillient professor, Professor Tischler. He taught a wonderful class from a wheel chair, and told horrible stories of tthe holocost. You see he was a parapledgic and also a Jew. It is sad, I often noted as he rolled across campus few students spoke to him. I wondered was it because he was Jewish or disabled…or both.
My experiences with God’s special people continues today. The church I attend is small but special. We have three distinct ethnic groups: Hispanic, “English”, and Korean. Within the Hispanic group there are Panamanians, Guatamalians, Mexican and Mexican/Native Americans. The “English” congregation is well represented by a melting pot of Europen cultures. The Korean, are mostly South Korean. How do we ever manage? Due to language three services are offered each Sunday. We gather for socials and our very special get together was for Easter Service. All three congregations meeting together as one. There were those who could interpret either in Korean, English or Spanish as was needed. There was a special bond. For this to happen, we have the believe in the Bible as God’s Holy Word. We exercise patience and understanding for customs which seem foreign and strange to us. And we are bound together with a special tie, called love.
Love … yeah, that’s the ticket to discrimination and prejudice. There’s a line from a song in the musical “South Pacific, that says, “We have to be taught to hate, before we are six, seven or eight.” Why not teach love and understanding instead?