by Farouk Martins Aresa,
This experience of a grown man that broke down in tears has a lesson for many of us. A white man’s wife suddenly got caught in a life or death situation. The wife was passing out and was obviously in need of first aid in terms of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The black man without any hesitation jumped into action when the white husband stopped him while begging for any white person to help the wife. With no one able to help around, the black man did.
The black man was shattered. He could not understand how anyone could be so mean-spirited that he was willing to allow his wife to die rather than accept help from a black man. The point here has nothing to do with the white man but everything to do with the black man. Each time he narrated the story, he broke down in tears. He grew up in the Southern part of United States. So racists are no strangers to him. But this particular incident devastated him.
Why would you allow the hatred of another person to destroy you? We have many friends including those closest to us in the house that open the door for outside enemies. We must learn from their action if we survive but must never be so disappointed to let it affect our lives forever. The worst thing that could happen to a father was when his own son called in robbers to dispossess him because he was “stingy”, only to cry when they kill the father stone cold.
If those closest to us can do us harm, we must not be traumatized by the racist or inhuman action of a stranger. People are people, no matter how close they are to you, regardless of the color of their skin or of the blood in their veins. We cannot go about life in distrust of everybody but we must not help our foes by letting their inhumanity to man crush us. If the unexpected action of a total stranger touched us so badly, what would we do if it were a family member?
Some workers that had a hard time on the job have been known to come back home to take out their grievances on their wives and children. Somebody offended your spirit at work and you become so dilapidated that you perpetrated the same action on your loved ones. If that is not helping your enemy to crush you and your family, we may wonder what that is.
Take the case of a jilted or ignored admirer. Instead of letting him or her reduce you to suicide, pick up your pieces and hope for better prospect. A lady that was ignored by an admirer used the rejection to polish up herself, fixed her teeth and later became a state and national beauty queen. She also pursued her academic career to become a veterinarian. Oh yeah, she saw him later on only to give him the – look at me now! Never give up on yourself.
This is not an attempt to diminish the effect of racism, hatred of any kind, rejection or man humanity to man. Many times it is difficult to avoid, ignore and move on. But to dwell on it to a point where it destroys us: it’s nothing short of helping the enemy achieve his goal. But then, when we are overwhelmed by difficult and unreasonable behavior of others, especially without immediate remedy, the last straw might be even less than what others understood.
Is it this particular action of this stranger that overwhelmed this man or accumulation of other behaviors in his past? Another friend got a job as a nurse in one of United States prisons that paid good money. Some of the prisoners told her she would not last by the time they dealt with her. The reason the job resulted in high turnover. She told her colleagues that if the prisoners knew how hard nurses worked in her country, they would realize her job was gravy, compared.
Whoever said – sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, but Words Will Never Hurt Me – got it wrong. Words can kill you if you helped the speaker. This must be instilled in our psyche not only as adults but also in our children in schools to develop thick skins. There are not enough adults, counselors or teachers to prevent every incidence bullies use to terrorize others. We must learn how to defend ourselves against actions intended to hurt us.
We have to be careful not to be over protective when it comes to children. They have less prejudice than we do and must learn certain lessons on their own no matter what we do. Indeed, some of them may have to get a finger burnt before they stay away from fire. Yet, we cannot watch them get into trouble we know can be prevented. No matter what, experience remains the best teacher.
One of the facts we must accept is that bullies or perpetrators of unruly behaviors also grew up in certain homes or certain environment. Even in the most congenial environment, some folks come out discourteous. Some of the parents would swear that they never raised such children, adults or bullies. On the other hand, there are those that raised bullies they are proud of since some bullies take to what they see their parents do while growing up – “in the good old days”.
As long as we realize there are people out there whose goal is to make others miserable, we must learn to discount their intended consequences no matter how close they are or how far. When people are very close, our surprise mixed with disappointment can cause a heart attack! This is why the Yoruba say – Eyinkunle ni ota wa, inu ile ni aseni n gbe.
But we may have helped those “friends” by becoming victim of their vicious attack. One reward a racist or vicious folks get, is when they see their victim down. It gives them sense of grandeur and cheap accomplishment. If people that feel inferior to you because of your accomplishment or what “friends” deem they cannot accomplish, they can bring you down with them just by watching you feel bad from their tirade.
In other words, you have been dispossessed of your pride and reduced yourself to their level. I had a summer job once where this guy with less than high school education envied university students. He came into the lunch room one day and announce that – Farouk is reading newspaper upside-down. Everyone burst out laughing. It could have been a good joke, but this writer was mad like hell. Later on, he had to wonder why an educated boy got felt bad and mad at an illiterate trying to make himself feel good.