Being that it’s four of us writing the 14th Degree and Beyond Wisdom Blogs it takes a month before blog-writing time circulates back to me, and when the time comes I always seem to be at a loss for words. So I guess I’ll just write about “real-life situations”.
I’m out of town right now visiting my mother and other physicals – including one of my brothers, his wife and two children. In fact, we have a family reunion coming up in less than two weeks. I’m having a great time – spent a good portion of yesterday with my 2 year old niece, Niara, and 1 year old nephew, Khamari. In a few days I’ll be having a get-together at my mother’s house with physical family, righteous family and long-time friends; and in less than two weeks will be attending a reunion with family members from across the country. The people I’ll be spending time with during my vacation primarily all live a different culture than I, and some who live a like culture – we STILL have differing aspects to their way of life. Aside from the belief in and knowledge of God being the primary difference between the groups of people who’ll be coming together to share in social equality with me, another difference is our dietary laws.
I’ve heard many people in the Nation speak on their physical family with disgust or disdain, or even confusion – wondering how can they not conform to my way of life, believing that they have to ostracize those who don’t live alike or see alike. When I made my first attempt at vegetarianism when I was 11 or 12 years old (I’m 33 now) my family criticized me, saying I must have “gotten that from the white girls” I went to school with. When I declared myself an atheist at 14 years of age most of them just plain thought I was nuts, and asked my mother “what are you going to do about this”! (lol) But because I was always a “smart mouth” who studied independently and had a differing opinion on many subjects, with no fear in expressing it, their criticisms never affected my being rooted in my own knowledge, never caused me to doubt my own convictions and allowed me to establish my own moral code of ethics that they just didn’t choose to live (wisdom).
But it wasn’t all on me, my stance on my square, my dedication to the culture and various aspects of the way of life I’ve chosen was also founded on the acceptance and even support of these very same critical relatives who gave me strength and allowed for my consistency. Their critiques caused me to study harder and better prep my rebuttals, and their acceptance let me know that I’d be loved regardless to how far I strayed from THEIR path in order to walk the path of my choosing. My physicals never ostracized me because I wouldn’t go to church with them on Easter or Mother’s Day, they never bad-mouthed me to visitors when I wouldn’t pray at the table with them on Christmas and Thanksgiving, never called me a slouch when I stopped giving out Christmas presents, and one of the biggest shows of acceptance – they ate and LOVED my vegetarian alternatives to lasagna, collard greens, bar-b-qued hamburgers and dogs.
No, none of them are vegan/vegetarians like me – but my mother will cook me a pot of collards or green beans without turkey necks in them, she’ll buy me rice milk when I come to town to stay with her, and even buy tofu without my asking and say “now how are you going to cook this?” And WHEN I cook it, she’ll eat it too (as she ate up my vegetarian tacos last night). My physicals’ tolerance and acceptance for my differences truly blossomed into respect when they started asking ME to bring the spinach lasagna (in replace of the old school Italian sausage lasagna Grandma used to cook), are amped for me to make vegan peach cobbler, they have a tendency to eat up all my dang veggie burgers, and their respect was most highly shown when many of them stopped eating red meat in their own good time (which was years after I started encouraging them to do so, and after I stopped pressing them with my knowledge and stats altogether… as I said, they evolved in THEIR time, at their choosing).
See, a lot of times we teach by preaching (telling people how to be when we barely be that way ourselves – or having put in the time and labor to show and prove that we’re dedicated to the way we’re claiming to be) rather than teaching by doing or just being as we are CONSISTENTLY – being comfortable and dedicated to our own evolution/elevation. We also tend to believe that if a person’s change isn’t immediate then we’re wasting our time. When the truth is, their change just isn’t necessarily immediately SEEN with the PHYSICAL EYES – but the thought process, trust, is churning and the cream is rising and when they’re ready they will display the changes in their ideas through their behavior. And even if they don’t, if their way of life enables them to be a good person – isn’t that better than the far worse scenarios they could be living out?
My family just KNEW it was a fad when I became a vegetarian, but 17 years later they already know what’s up and will have alternatives for me to eat. I’m so blessed to have physicals like these because I, like many we know, don’t have to bring my own batch of food to family get-togethers and cookouts because they already know what’s up and will have a pack of boca burgers on hand. But they weren’t always like this, they elevated into this as I showed my own loyalty and dedication to the way of life I professed to live. I showed and proved and they saw the reality – they didn’t accept it for themselves in many aspects, BUT their respect shows that they have the knowledge and are able to share it (notice, I didn’t say teach) through word if not deed. And I have overheard many’a conversations where one of my brothers or cousins is repeating various aspects of dietary health to someone that they heard me say, or bore witness to their jumping to my defense by supporting my knowledge that God is within and to support the word of God you have to LIVE as God or as a civilized person (this of course is not their exact phrasing, but it’s what it sums up to).
Because of this, I don’t dismiss family and friends based on our differences. Now, don’t get me wrong, I WILL dismiss folks based on their blissful ignorance or blatant disrespect. BUT I appreciate it, and know that appreciation is reciprocated, when the differences do not cause division and we can (1) respect each other’s way of life for having made us – as individuals – better people and (2) bond based on our commonalities (the best part), not caring about the poor part (the differences). Being able to come together irregardless of differences in culture is how work gets done by the collective, for the benefit of the COLLECTIVE. I really think it’s selfish and self-centered when we look for our physicals to accept us as we are – for the knowledge that we’ve gained – but we don’t reciprocate that acceptance and respect.
Does anyone reading this also have a positive relationship with their physical family, or knowledge that their differences in culture haven’t caused division, and even see that they’ve influenced positive changes in their physicals’ lives?
Eboni Joy Asiatic