Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Walk in Their Shoes....

On my way back from Church today, there was an episode of Interfaith Radio on National Public Radio, in which they were discussing John Howard Griffin's book "Black Like Me" . In this book, Griffin dyed himself black in order to experience the life and journey of African-Americans in during the 1960's. He traveled all around the south experiencing some of the most racially-divided areas, in order to illuminate the different treatment that was endured by African-Americans.

Throughout his book, Griffin reveals much of the mistreatment and racism that he encountered. In particular, Mr. Griffin describe a "hate stare” which he would receive from whites just by from entering into a bus, room, etc. This in turn reminded me of our discussion in class regarding homeless people. Dr. Corsini mentioned how there is an interesting phenomena in American culture, in which we pretend like homeless people do not even exist. In a sense, homeless people are dehumanized through this process, as the attributes given to humans (mercy, compassion, love, etc.) are taken away from them.

In the same manner, Mr. Griffin went through this same dehumanizing process as individuals regarded him not as a person, but of something of contempt or indecency. Of course, he didn't do anything to appropriate this mistreatment, but simply changed the "tent" that he was in. In both situations--the homeless man or the African-American man-- the outward material component was used to judge the immaterial aspects of an individual, their person-hood. This is not a phenomena that is reserved to America, but is an aspect of humanity that can be observed throughout history. Regardless of the immaterial aspect of an individual, human's primary mode of interacting with other individuals is based upon their material component. Naturally, human's rationality leads them to avoid this type of judgment and as Christians we should be even more vigilant to avoid “material” judgments. However, it is difficult to avoid the human's fallen mode of material judgment.

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