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For Understanding: Classification versus Stereotyping

label tagI want to be clear… stereotyping of groups of people in such a way as to imply that “ALL of the group ARE this” is commonly seen as wrong. After all, every individual is their own person and no group of people are ALL the same… groups are made up of individuals.

For the sake of order and efficiency in our lives we do tend to catagorize things and classify people into generalized groups based on some kind of common trait. Inside those groups there may be subdivisions within that classification and maybe subsets of those. There may be such great difference discovered that an entirely different group is created. Labelling is an ongoing process as we learn more and maybe even redefine our criteria for a group.

Like many people, I order, categorize and label to quickly identify and efficiently use my time. I also use them for gaining quicker understanding. My groups or labels or terms may not necessarily agree with someone else’s who may have a different understanding or judgment of where something fits.

Since I have spent a good deal of time lately in conversation with a number of people who do not think the same way I do (in fact some in direct opposition to as I do) I thought this would be a good time to lay down a basis of better understanding.

THIS is what I mean when I use these terms: #Atheist (they call themselves this -no God)  #Angry or #Mad (predominantly displays anger, bitterness and criticism of others) #God-hater (displays hatefulness toward God, Jesus, Bible, and Christians) These terms defined by the everyday common understanding of the words: #Illogical or #Unreasonable (not following logic, reason) #Lie (not #True, contrary to the truth, facts, or nature of something) #Wrong (may be #mistaken, but definitely not #right which I use God’s ultimate standard as well as general humane definitions) #Bible (The Word of God, originated by God and recorded by divinely chosen men for benefit of mankind’s understanding God, truth, love, wisdom and how to live good and upright lives), #God (God as revealed in the #Bible, God of Abraham,Isaac & Jacob, Yahweh, “I Am,” Alpha & Omega, Everlasting Father, Almighty, Sovereign, Eternal, Omniscient, Creator of the universe and all that is in it, Sovereign, Provider, Sustainer, HOLY = pure good, love, truth, righteousness).

Being a Christian I do not pretend to know all the various forms of atheism and their subtle differences. As a Christian the foundation of my faith and life is Jesus Christ, truth and love. Love God and love others as myself.  Contrary to the accusers of me on twitter, I do not judge that a person is EVIL because they believe differently than I do.  Belief is an individual choice.

However, if anyone, believer or not, shows contempt for others and lies about truth I am compelled to speak against that bad behavior. That is admonishment — confronting lies with truth, wrong doing with righteousness.

It is not an easy thing to do. It is not a fun thing to do. But it is the RIGHT and LOVING thing to do. Depending on the degree of harm being done and whether I believe the person is even receptive to or respectful of the dignity and direction of truth, I may try to speak truth that exposes the wrong in hopes that misunderstandings are corrected and bad behaviors cease. All of us make mistakes. I would hope that someone else would do the same for me.

Like the wisdom of scripture states, there are those who have hardened hearts, deaf ears and are blinded to truth and righteousness. At those times when it is clear that the perpetrator has no desire to truthfully analyze or correct, there is no point in preceding. Don’t cast pearls before swine. Leave them with their depraved mind. Kick the dust off your sandals and walk on.

LIVING A GOOD LIFE IS SO MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE WITH OTHERS

Like most people, I enjoy hanging out with people that do the same things I like to do or generally believe the same things I do. Our experiences shared with our family and friends are the real memory makers that we get to enjoy over and again.

However, I also have great friendships “outside of my circles” where I am getting to know people I would not have even met in a sequestered life. The most profound discoveries of new friends happens as I engage in my online excursions. Social media after all is social.

I enjoy learning of various world-views from people that are not normally in my social circles. It is quite invigorating to engage in conversations with these new friends; growing in understanding of other people and ideas that I previously didn’t know. “Come let us REASON together,” is a welcome invitation to learn from one another and examine things together.

The experiences that I have with people helps in me to understand so very much more than I did before I had the blessing of knowing them. Even those who have been unpleasant to me have taught me valuable lessons in human behavior and communication. God is so very good. He allows us to grow in truth, love and wisdom as we encounter people who do not employ them. They demonstrate for us the consequences we have been told in the Bible will befall the liars, selfish, and foolish . . .without us actually having taken that particular path ourselves. Likewise, others can learn from our shortcomings when we share them transparently. ALL of us make mistakes. ALL of us can learn from those mistakes and help one another not to repeat them. Iron sharpens iron.

In closing, I believe that labels are just labels. They are not meant to define a person. They are just one way of quickly identifying what is same or different, or to point to a place. I believe that making statements about the characteristics of a group does not mean that it always applies, all the time, to all the individuals of the group. General statements about groups of people are that . . . generally speaking . . . for the most part.

The problem that I see with those who stereo-type is that they misuse labels. They proclaim that ALL people of this certain group are ALWAYS ________ (insert their claim). THAT in my opinion is the key difference between labeling and the wrongness of stereo-typing . . . having the label defining the person places one’s judgment of a person over who that person actually may be.

What do you think about this topic? I welcome your comments.

Reconnecting

I have been enjoying one of the great benefits of social media lately. That is, reconnecting. I have rediscovered old high school classmates and neighbors. Once I find one, then they have a couple more that they have to suggest and the “friends” list grows.PuzzlePiecesScatteredTranslucent

This demonstrates to me not only the power of today’s social media and the world wide web, but also how much of an impact just one person can have. As my friends list continues to grow I am not out to place additional names on some list for the sake of numbers. Rather, I am amazed at the number of people who have touched my life or shared my life with me in some way.

It is not just the world wide web that connects us… No… it was far before computers were even invented that we were connected. God the Father intended for us to go out into the world and share our lives with one another. We make an impact where we are and with whom we are surrounded. That is why I like to think of myself as a “Walmart Missionary”… I will use the opportunity of standing in a shopping line to say hello to a total stranger and share a piece of life with them. Oh how marvelous it is when we are talking about the joys of living and walking in the ways of the Lord!

FAS Friends

I met with a new friend tonight who I call “Fishers Fran.” We both have Foreign Accent Syndrome, (an extremely rare

Eastside Ellen and Fishers Fran shake up the Steak 'n' Shake.

Eastside Ellen and Fishers Fran shake up a local Steak 'n' Shake. ---Photo by waitress Cloe.

medical condition that causes a person to speak with a foreign accent that is not their own) and live in the Indy area.

Fran had some friends tell her about hearing me on the WIBC 93.1 FM radio spots I’ve been doing over the last couple Tuesday mornings by invitation of the Morning Show personalities Terri Stacy and Big Joe Stayzniak. Her friends told her that she must listen. Then Fran took the initiative to call the radio station and they passed along my name and told her I was on FaceBook where she sent me a message.

Last Tuesday evening when we first spoke by phone, Fran had her normal voice. Her foreign accent came on suddenly for her along with left side neuromuscular symptoms back in 2005. Unlike me, her regular voice has returned, but she does have episodes where the accent returns for a few days. In fact she recently was interviewed about her Foreign Accent Syndrome story in an article for the April Issue of a magazine that is popular with the Catholic faith. I am sorry that I do not have the publications name right now, but I will edit this post when I have it.

Today she called to say that her voice has “flipped” so that she has the accent again. Her voice does have strong similarities to my own, but is definitely different. She can say some long “A” sounds that I cannot, and I can pronounce the “SK” sound that she cannot. So it was very enlightening as we met at a northeast side Steak and Shake for a friendly supper. Many patrons stared as we spoke and laughed together. Our waitress asked the inevitable “where are you from” question. To which we both smiled and replied “where do you think?”  “Think” was  pronounced “Sink” by Fran and more like “Tink” by me. Our waitress took a while to understand the fact that we are not FROM Europe and now living in the Indiana. Rather, we are both Midwestern Americans who are speaking with very strong foreign accents.  She guessed Fran as more Eastern European and me she placed as Irish. LOL. Anyway our waitress Cloe was kind enough to snap our photo with my camera.

Given that there have been reportedly less than one hundred cases of Foreign Accent Syndrome ever reported worldwide and that so very few people, including medical professionals, have even heard of the affliction, I believe our budding friendship is an answer to prayer! It was encouraging to talk to someone who understands what it feels like to not have the voice/accent you have had your whole life. I feel greatly blessed by meeting her, and especially since she is within short driving distance.

We may have discovered a new comedy team in the making as well. We thoroughly entertained Fran’s daughters and husband with our silliness as we each corrected the others accent.  Though our accents have some similar qualities, Fran sounds more Eastern block European (more Russian), whereas my accent sounds more French mixed with Norwegian. Her husband said that we sound like we are from different parts of Europe, but European all the same. I think it was an encouragement to her family as well as we were able to lightheartedly share our stories. Her family was able to see another person with the same thing happening so that they could feel less alone in the peculiarity of it.

Below is the link to a video that her daughter Celia shot of us. Please be kind to us as this was totally impromptu shooting so I am not wearing any make up and am looking more unkempt than I would have liked. However, the spontaneity of the shoot makes it too good not to post.

Foreign Accent Syndrome Friends

Now, I really would like to hear what you think about this post so please leave a comment. Thanks.

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