Learning to speak the truth when you feel like a stranger in a strange land

Well some truth-teller I am.

I’ve often felt like an alien in my own backyard.  This post was even originally subtitled: Why My Daughter Calls Where We Live “Hillbilly Hell.”   And I decided that was a little inflammatory.

East Texas is a truly beautiful place; full of redeeming qualities and lovely people.  And let’s just say, that the smaller minded, Bible Belt frame of reference is in the abundant majority.  So for someone as open-minded and egalitarian as me, it’s sometimes been a hard place to feel I belonged.

One of my favorite captured images of all time (the image above) was taken for a church directory project.  I thought of it because it represents and beautifully illustrates the antithesis of what I had to deal with recently.

To tell this story I guess I have to point out that even at a young age I knew that as human beings we are all more alike than we are different.

And I really did.

It really doesn’t matter if the “other” is of another race or religion, sexual orientation, or socio-economic class, judging or bigotry has just never made sense to me.

I can recall precisely the moment and where I was sitting in church as a child when the preacher speaking to us stated unequivocally that unless people “knew Jesus” they wouldn’t “get into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

“Huh?”  (Remember kids are allowed to use these incredibly complex terms.)

Well it just so happens that at that time I had a friend that was Jewish.  So I thought to myself that no God that I KNEW or had been told about would do such a thing!  How ridiculous.  It just wasn’t logical.  And I guess the powers of my father’s rational engineer’s brain were already showing their genetic influence, even at such a tender age.

“Why in the world would the Creator of All Life, Father of all mankind, King of Kings reveal Himself to only a few people on one particular side of the planet?” I thought as I sat there.  I remember worrying about the children in Africa that I saw in the TV fundraising ads late at night and my friend at school and then dismissing it.  Why should I have some great honor like everlasting life bestowed upon me because I was born to two East Texans who happened to be Christian, and not my friend or the kids in Africa?

I actually recall looking across the large sanctuary and scanning to see if anyone else was realizing what I was realizing about what he was saying.

I bring this up to relate a real dilemma I found myself in a few days ago so you’ll understand what a big deal it was to me.

Selling your home is a daunting thing in any market.  But when your entire family is packing their bags and asking you when the heck the moving van is taking us all back to the Mothership (in this case “back” to somewhere we’ve never lived but know we belong) and you don’t have a contract yet – it takes on a whole new pressure.  The last minute calls, the lookie-lous in the driveway every day, the anticipation, the scurrying to put away Dazzling Daughter’s ever-reproducing hoodies which are spread out all over a 3-story house because the realtor just called…

Well, you know the drill.  You’ll do anything to just get it over with.

After a perfectly pleasant question and answer session with a prospective buyer on this gloriously sunny day I found myself alone on the front porch with her husband.  I was trying to stay out of the way but close enough to answer questions.  I think he just wanted to escape the girl talk and gushing going on between his wife and the realtor, so he came out to join me.

We found ourselves asking and answering questions about our backgrounds, people we knew in town, what the neighbors were like.  You know: small talk.  Pleasantries.

And then, there IT was.  The “N” word.

I felt like I had been punched right in the gut.

And this was not only the “N” word, but a racial insult coupled with a cross cultural insult.  While telling me about his former business the first words out of his mouth were about how it was now ruined.  It was owned by people he chose to characterize with the “N” word preceded by the word “sand.”

I have a lot of dear friends who happen to be dark complexioned and live in countries with an abundance of sand.   Good friends.  So it hurt.  Heck, the father of my children – who was born in Mexico – is often mistaken for being from the Middle East.

This man was a stranger whose wife enthusiastically wanted to buy my farm.  What was I supposed to do?  How do I speak up without insulting the man’s character with his family and agent close by?

So what did I do?  Me, the champion for truth and beauty in all things?

I was stunned mute.

I looked away, grimaced, and continued to make small talk.

Boy, do I have a lot to learn.

~

{Allison Peacock Photo}

By | 2018-01-29T23:43:09+00:00 March 27th, 2009|Word Medicine|6 Comments

About the Author:

A healer, teacher, and professional communicator, Allison Peacock's passions for nature and neuroscience inform her teaching and writing on the topics of Earth-honoring spirituality, personal and system wellness, and empowered healthcare.

6 Comments

  1. […] can see from an earlier post that I grew up learning the teachings of Jesus.   These will be with me the rest of my life.   […]

  2. […] what are the odds that the subject of this particular email was related to the recent post I wrote about how I don’t understand bigotry?   That’s my life for you.  Synchronicity at all times.  Even over the most mundane things […]

  3. […] This was it.  This was the vague sense that was looming over the questions I had about my post, as well as the one before it about my inability to speak up against bigotry expressed in my home. […]

  4. […] can see from an earlier post that I grew up learning the teachings of Jesus.   These will be with me the rest of my life.   […]

  5. […] This was it.  This was the vague sense that was looming over the questions I had about my post, as well as the one before it about my inability to speak up against bigotry expressed in my home. […]

  6. […] One of these crossed my inbox tonight.  And I shudder to imagine what the poor young woman that sent it to me will think when she opens my response to her.  Let’s just say that the sailor’s mouth isn’t quite as restrained via private email to someone that I think should know better.  (Apparently I’m over my inability to find words when I’m insulted by bigots.) […]

Leave A Comment