…f is in comparison to others because I have nothing going for me that others would judge favorably. They were probably deeply ashamed that they were no longer living among the elite so they had to hold themselves above those around them to convince themselves that they were still worthy. If fortune ever smiled upon them again, they could tell their elite peers that they never gave in t…
Powerfully true, Charlotte.
I’ll give you an example I am living right now. I’m in Borneo, been very very sick for seven days. Staying at a local’s hotel- no tourists- by design. The host’s daughter, Jessica, is a Dayak (one of many Dayak tribal sects).
My parents would see her but not “see” her. She speaks four languages and just got accepted as a Fulbright Scholar to the US this coming school year.
She’s damned brilliant and a joy to be around. On top of that this immensely generous family has been running errands for me for days while I slept nearly 24/7 beating an awful flu, quietly sneaking into my room to deliver water, yogurt and drinks. They have patiently taken me to the doctor twice, helped me secure prescriptions, and been delighted no end that I have fallen in love with and am constantly playing with their enormous pit bull Mitchi who lives in a cage out front (not all the time, but the padlocked cage protects him from pet thieves who steal and kill them for the dog meat market.)
I am giving Jessica my cards and asking her to be in touch when she comes to America if she has any need of an in country friend to talk to if she is lonely. They are now extended family. In an hour they are taking me to a local outfit which will put me on the river to view orangutans, which my illness caused me to miss.
In every country there is vicious elitism, born of disregard for color, and the darker the less valuable. Even in American high schools, such as one in Denver where some very bright Black kids did a radio piece for NPR on the lighter-darker strata affects the African American community, it is evil. There, they pointed out that the darker your skin, the more likely you were perceived to be a “ho,” a drug user, a gang member. Another, smaller Skinner’s box. I saw it everywhere in Peru, where darker skinned indigenous peoples were enslaved, looked down upon. It’s everywhere.
The way I see it Charlotte, we all suffer- unless we are mindful and brutally aware of ourselves- from two supreme human addictions: the need to be right (at all costs) and you need to be wrong, and the need to feel superior, whatever the measurements. The Rwandan genocide had its early roots when the Dutch measured the heads, length of noses and other arbitrary standards to decide which tribe was superior. Chaos ensued. And it’s not quite over yet although much has been healed there. The genocide museum in Kigali is a stark reminder of our Universal arrogance.
It begins young, ‘I’m taller than you, my dad can beat up your dad, I’m smarter than you” and evolves. whatever our parents put in our hearts, we have the chance to challenge and prove wrong, if we have the courage to keep our hearts open, soft and curious. It’s not easy. However I think of how poor my existence would be if I kept to my parents’ way of thinking. I might have a house in my heart but it would echo with very lonely footsteps indeed. Thanks for your kind comments.