Friday, April 11, 2014

How To Help Others

As I have brought up in a few of the blogs, I am not exactly the ‘normal person’ where it comes to the ‘traditional family background issues.’ I was raised by my mother and by my grandmother. I lived in a rather well-off portion of Houston and other times, when I stayed with my father, I lived in areas other people might defined as ‘urban ghettos.’ I was never friends with many boys and the females I was friends with did not particularly take to me since I was not masculine. I grew up being viewed as homosexual because my voice did not crack until I was older than most kids and, as the female friends I had did not hang out with me besides where school was involved, I was not considered normal. I have always fit into self-made friend groups; I am not, nor have I ever considered myself, popular or influential among my peers. Because of the notion that I was thought of a homosexual as a kid I was lobbed with rocks and spit on, sometimes in the same day. It was not rampant but it did happen. I have lived then in both the rich and poor upbringing circles as well as the prejudiced and the privileged social groups.

My christian upbringing as a younger child was (in my view) stifled by my unpopularity and other factors, mainly family ones (ie: nobody especially liked my dad among kids my age so I was not liked in turn). I was very, very aware of how kids and teens behaved and I made it a point to be more cautious than optimistic about making friends. I regularly only ever had three real, genuine friends at a time growing up and those people are ones I consider family. I was always cautious about religious assistance from others, not because of adults, but because of kids my own age. As I have grown my weariness of those my own age, and the issues they bring up, have remained twinged with caution. That having been said, certain issues have never resonated with me because of my very odd background. One of these has most defiantly been violence against women.

I have never been somebody who has physically seen violence done against women, particularly women my age. I am actually more aware of female enacted verbal/physical violence that is against children and their own family members than I am male on female violence, although, having had the father I did, verbal abuse from male power figures is not unknown to me.
In short – I have never been one to be the kind of person to understand, or even fathom, the traditional roles men have and the power society says they have. Almost every boss or authority figures I have ever had, from growing up to my job here at UTT, has been female. The chair of my Major is female, almost all my professors are female, I have had multiple female bosses for almost every job I have had (barring one exception, however his boss was female), and women have been traditionally the ones with power and active voices on both sides of my family. I have had female friends who were especially strong voiced, strong willed, and strong hearted. I have been surrounded by very successful, very wonderful women and very few men. 

Still (and this is important), my views and how I was brought up are not the complete experience of how the world works. Not totally. I am especially cautious about gender shaming (of men and women in equal measure), I have particular dislike for ‘religion’ (this being a term to relate to power that is vested in worldly religious institutions, not in the faith and compassion of what holy texts can illuminate in others), and I have always been fortunate to have known male friends who are vehemently against female abuse and ‘caveman attitudes.’ This is common and it makes up my wolrld view but that is not the same for many people I know.

It is hard to comprehend things not seen, things not experienced directly, and things that fly smack in the face of how I view gender relations. One of the hardest things for me to even fathom is how prevalent male-on-female violence is, as well as gender discrimination. It literally goes against many things my upbringing has shown me and taught me.

As somebody who is the least likely to start raising banners for causes i do not see with my own eyes, confronting issues like ones I am bringing up are hard. The important thing however is taking a calm moment, collecting ones thoughts, and admitting that what is not my world experience has nothing to do with the experiences of others.  At the end of the day my 'job' is not to try and debunk what I hear by saying "Well, *I'VE* never SEEN female violence" or by picking fights with the messengers of social causes. My job is to read, do research, check the sites giving me data, question and debate points politely if something does not add up, and to understand why people are presenting data to me. While some might misrepresent data, skew facts, blame one party or gender, and otherwise ruin the message, that is not true of all Messengers.

Not knowing how to talk about issues can be tough
One of the biggest challenges I face is not knowing what I can do. I hold no power. I do not explicitly believe in the power of politics to swiftly make a difference based on consistently lowered expectations and as I believe religion is something that must be accepted internally (as opposed to being pushed down somebody’s throat from within) I do not actually find great solace in advising religion or religious groups as a means of support. In my mind, yes, religious people can help all they want but if that help requires conversion or some-such treatment, it is being done for the wrong reasons. I have known people who went to religious groups for assistance and were confronted by conversion tactics rather than assistance*.

[As with the false Messengers who defame social issues by being polarizing, sexist individuals, obviously not all religious groups are out to convert and blame. I advise seeking religious/spiritual people you know personally or who can be recommended to you if those are the kinds of people you wish to seek out for guidance]

So, what can I do? I am not always sure. I have experienced a lot of pain but it was never permanent or lasting. I relate to different groups but my experience in certain social circles has never been total. I know everybody in my sphere of influence detests violence against other humans so I do not think my mission can be to change minds, if that makes any sense. I would simply be preaching to the choir. I have no students to teach, no children to impart lessons to, and I am unsure how to use my voice as I am, by my nature, cautious about bringing up different issues on account of the fact that I know my words come with consistent, endless questioning. I question data from every source. I ask about ulterior motives behind websites and ‘sponsored’ groups. 

Still, as a human being I have empathy. I feel for others deeply. I question so much because it is so easy for me to be swayed by pains that are not my own. I have constantly tried to discuss everything I can with everyone I can.

While I am trying to find answers for the best way to response to gender issues, to speak as somebody who is religious, to council those who might ever need help, and to be somebody who promotes love and compassion without fear of political or religious ideology honeying my words, I know that research must always be done.

If you have questions about how you can best approach or talk to others about violence, abuse, or emotional issues, we as students of the University of Texas at Tyler have people who will help us. I urge you to make time to talk to individuals who have training in these diverse and important fields, fields that might not impact you directly but they do impact our friends and families.

Pepe the Penguin
I don’t know what I can do in the future. For now? I can write. I have an outlet from which I can advocate compassion and education. These topics are not easy to contemplate and, yes, you may very well disagree with the messenger and their interpretation of all kinds of data.

What you cannot argue against is human love and the ability to make a difference, when and where you might have the chance. If you are unsure of data, do research. If you don’t know where to begin, start with people who are experts. Call, email, set up meetings. Don’t ignore the call to help our fellow humans. Don’t ignore the chance to matter.

If you need help, do not be afraid to seek it.

If you want to know how to help, do not be afraid to ask how.

If you are sometimes cautious about taking a stance, be your own guide on how best to help, but never forget to help.

Do not be afraid.

Be positive and care-filled Messengers.

If I can post this, you too can find courage to make a difference. Blog. Sing. Use Tumblr. Use Facebook. Find the best way you can use your ‘voice’ and be a light of compassion and love to others, regardless of if that light is your Faith shining through you or your own, internally built Fire of Compassion that flows from your reason and logic. 

If you have questions, consult these sources:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is a extraordinary article, Given a lot important information within it, These kinds of blog posts helps keep the people curiosity in , while keeping on posting about it a little more ... good luck!

Post a Comment