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Oct 7

Shame Marginalizes

Posted on Friday, October 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

Shame minimizes one’s true self.

Healthy communities promote genuineness and humanity.

Amy and I are blessed.  We live in Brooklyn Park, MN and have great neighbors on either side of us.  Tyko, Anika, Kamroon and Tia live to the North. Melissa and Steve to our South. 

Ignorantly, both families could be marginalized by segments of our society.

Shame Marginalizes Through Blindness

Tyko, Anika, Kamroon and Tia look different and sound different than their neighbors.  At a glance they are different.  On the other hand, their differences from Amy and I might surprise you. 

We have never invited them to a birthday party, they have invited us to several.
We’ve eaten over at their house several times, but I cannot recall them eating at our house.

While they look different, and could be marginalized, or disrespected, for their differences, it is their kindness, hospitality and sweet spirit that really sets them apart from most people. 

On the other hand, Melissa and Steve look and sound like us, but they might be marginalized for other reasons.  Melissa is the bedrock of their family, strong, steady and sweet.  Steve is a mover and shaker, creative and smart, he’s also wheelchair rolling.

Outsiders  would have no idea that as an athlete Steve has competed internationally.  Locally he coaches youth sports team in the Robbinsdale School district.

As able as Steve is in many areas of his life, he is also disabled in others.  It is his disabilities that society would see rather than his substantial abilities. 

In some areas of the world Steve would be marginalized and shamed — “I am what I am.  I cannot change.  It’s hopeless.” — instead of valued.  He might have been abandoned on the street as a baby and left to die.

Fortunately, Steve has a determined spirit, a caring and supportive family, great friends, helpful PCAs, and financial support from the government.  In Minnesota he’s a success.

Shame Marginalizes Through Bias and Bigotry

Having worked with junior highers for more than twenty years I understand why they constantly compare, critique and categorize people.  As young adolescents they constantly experience personal change.  Despite the fact that they may spend hours a week looking into a mirror, their reflection continually changes.  Thus, they barely understand themselves sometimes, therefore it helps them to try to compartmentalize others to understand themselves.

Adults don’t have that excuse.  We still compartmentalize others.  We segment, critique, rate, and attribute value based on outward criteria.  Through bias and bigotry, preference and prejudice we label others every day. 

Female – Male
Native American – White American
Asian American – European American
Arab Muslim – Non-Arab Muslims
Black – White
Light Skin – Dark Skin
Young – Old
Straight – Gay
Fat – Thin
Christian – Non-Christian, etc., etc.

Sadly, we don’t simply seek to compare to understand, we often compare and diminish others with shame.

As I wrote yesterday, Shame “Works”, But It Doesn’t Have To.

Dysfunction is an ancient problem, but it doesn’t have to continue.

Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” 1

It’s so hard to do, because what’s natural is, “everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” 2

Shame-filled social systems can be replaced by healthy, supportive social systems.

It’s possible, and it’s available.

More on Monday.

1 – Philippians 2:2-4, NLT

2 – Philippians 2:21, NIV

3 – Discrimination of the disabled has been termed ableism.  Here is an interesting flowchart that summarize the challenges victims of ableism experience.  Use the link to read it in its entirity.

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