Affronted Or Fascinated

Two of the reasons Jorge and I are such good pals are our parallel personal histories.  Even though we grew up in different cities and vastly different ethnic backgrounds, our drives to satisfy our curiosity helped to define us.

Both of us were outsiders during our youths.  Despite our best efforts to fit in with our classmates, it was impossible to conform.  Because our families moved to various affrontedorfascinated-01towns and neighborhoods, we often found ourselves going through the process of acclimating ourselves to new social environments.

In Jorge’s case, his family lived in various parts of Los Angeles.  My family lived in a couple of places in Nebraska, our moves inhibited my siblings and my long-term bonding outside of our neighborhoods.

During our high school years, Jorge and I independently concluded that any further efforts towards group conformity were pointless.  It was also at around that same time period we discovered that close friends were to be found in unexpected places with unexpected people.

Unlike our classmates, who generally disliked people who were from different social classes, races, and nationalities, Jorge and I were attracted to them.  In Jorge’s case, it was his exposure to people in different areas of L.A. that opened his eyes. It also helped that both of his mentors came from mixed nationalitis and were of non-heterosexual orientation.

I can point to two eye-openers in my life.  My junior high level best friend was Nasir, an immigrant from Morocco, we were as close as peas in a pod.  One year, during high school, our family hosted a foreign exchange student from Mexico City. Carlos became the older brother I had always wanted and I was the younger brother he had wished for because his native siblings were all female. Both of these people added depth and humor to my life at just the times they were needed.affrontedorfascinated-02

Jorge put it best when he once told me that we are friends with each other because of our similar instinct not to be affronted by differences but fascinated by them. Both of us like people who are not like us.  Even though we didn’t realize it at the time, befriending people who were nothing like us opened ourselves and our new friends to growth and community.

The world is going through a time of social changes. To some of us, this shift is uncomfortable and scary. They are greatly insulted and affronted by different types of people.  Others of us are very curious and want to know more about various types of people. We feel happy and blessed to know them.  I don’t think these attitudes form because we are either accepted nor rejected by our childhood peers. Perhaps our inborn need to socialize helps us seek out different types of people.

Neither Jorge nor I had to force ourselves to accept and to embrace people from other backgrounds, the attitudes just happened. Jorge believes that even people who are affronted by differences can learn to grow and accept people who are different than themselves.  Once they are given a personal example about the joy and freedom possible when prejudices and fears drop away, the affronted people can become fascinated and fascinating people.

I heartily agree that differences are not to be discouraged.  Differences are to be sought out, studied, treasured, and embraced.  Certainly, we are all human beings, first of all. affrontedorfascinated-03It is also true that our differences make our global society strong and beautiful.  Of course, we don’t want to mistake stereotypes for differences in culture, that is counterproductive.

There are very dark forces who wish to turn back the clock to days of racial segregation. They want a return to jingoism and ultra nationalism. Those forces seek to oppress non-heterosexual people.  The dark forces preach a mean-spirited gospel of resentment, fear, and oppression.

Jorge says we need to live our lives filled to the brim with acceptance and love for everybody.  Forgiveness and kindness must be the attitudes that bring us together.  I add that I am grateful to know people who are different than me. My life is happier and richer because of them.

Nobody is born with racism, misogyny, homophobia, and jingoism in their hearts.  These twisted attitudes are taught to us.  Many people learn these negative lessons and quickly adopt them as their own.  There are also those of us who failed to learn and adopt the lessons of fear and hatred.

The tide of fear and violence that is sweeping over our cities and nations can be lessened.  Instead of being affronted by differences, we can be fascinated by them. Our lives and our world will be healthier and happier when we open ourselves to fascination.

mini-moiThe Blue Jay of Happiness adds that not only is fascination a vital, positive personal quality, so are passion and love.

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, Controversy, Friendship, Health, Politics, religion, Youth and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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