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Monday, August, 23, 2010

Do You Want to Know: Josh Wilson

Filed under: my stuff — mete23 @ 10:18 am

If you want a heart of sympathy
Then pray to God to help you, please
See the world that Jesus sees

But be careful what you ask Him for
Cause if you’re gonna open up that door
There’s no going back to before

Cause once you see a mother who can’t feed
The baby that cries in her arms
Your heart will break and you’ll lay awake
No, sleep won’t come quick anymore
So do you want to know?

You pass him on the way to work
He holds a sign beside the curb
You look away and avoid the hurt

Cause why should you be held responsible
Besides, he’ll probably just spend it all
On cigarettes and alcohol

But once you see that the man on the street
Has a name and a family like you
Your heart will break and you’ll lay awake
Cause you’ll understand God loves him, too
So do you want to know?
Oh, no

If you want a heart of sympathy
Then pray to God to help you see

But once you see a world that’s in need
And a sorrow you just can’t ignore
Your heart’s gonna break and you’ll lay awake
Cause you’ll know you could do so much more
Do you want to know?

Two nights ago, I had a nightmare about a woman (I knew her) who had a huge cage in her house. It was covered with a blanket similar to what bird owners do when they want their birds to stop chirping. One day, I caught her taking off the blanket and to my horror she kept a woman in prison there. The woman trapped in the cage was scrawny, had white haired and deep, sad wrinkles. She was wailing in pain and crawling on all fours as if she never had the chance to learn how to walk. The woman who owned the cage was whipping the caged woman. I found myself screaming my head off in my nightmare.

What I like about the lyrics of the above song is that it talks about empathy and the compassion that God has for humanity. This summer I have been getting into heavy arguments about why certain groups of people in society like the blacks and Latinos/as are struggling so much with socioeconomic mobility. Most of these conversations have been with my parents and their generation and Chinese people like to think that the Chinese are all so brilliant and hard-working in academics and therefore succeed. The contrapositive for blacks and Latinos/as is that they do not succeed and excel in education because they are lazy-the classic response. Anger usually burns inside of me when I hear those comments.

I am very grateful that studying (yes, secular) sociology has opened my eyes to see what God sees and has broken my heart for what God’s heart breaks for but when I return home, it has been extremely difficult to understand where my parents are coming from when we have conversations about social mobility. One particular evening, I was taking a walk with my mom and I told her about how I might consider living with the poor (perhaps idealism or truth, we’ll see) in the future and she said that she would want to die first before I did that. Obviously, I was furious and deeply hurt at how unsupportive and insulting she was. Now, my parents are really chill folks. They let me study whatever I want and pretty much do anything I want to do but I didn’t expect this from my mom. As I was about ready to yell at my mom, she told me about her childhood and how when she lived in Kowloon, her family was dirt poor. Their situation rivaled the poverty I saw in Uganda but she was able to get to where she is now. Her family was an epic American dream-like story of pulling up their bootstraps and rising out of poverty. My mom and her sisters all had to walk miles and miles and even rode on boats to get to school. They worked odd and end jobs, collectively making just enough to put food on the table. Their school uniform was their only article of clothing and they all packed into a tiny apartment with one bathroom in the whole building. She lived with a father, who drank and gambled all of the money her mom and sisters made. When I heard all of this, my heart felt wretched because I realized that my parents’ generation believed what they believed in because it was tied so closely with their personal lives-the mentality that “if I can do it, why can’t they?”

How could I possibly argue my book knowledge with her personal, tear-jerking life story? Does it change my theories of why certain groups of people seem unable to succeed academically? Not really, but now I have a better understanding of where my parents and their generation are coming from and I shouldn’t be so angry and hostile whenever they make offensive comments. It just makes me sound self-righteous.

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2 Comments »

  1. scary nightmaree!

    wow your mom is from Kowloon?! born there? i’ve been learning… parents have reasons for doing things and saying things to their children. it’s a matter of seeing their perspective, how they came to it through their past history and years of experience.

    anyways, there’s a TED talk that i just listened to and i thought of it when i read your post. give it a listen
    http://blog.ted.com/2009/03/24/from_a_nairobi/

    Comment by Sally — Friday, August, 27, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

    • hah yeah my moms from kowloon…thanks for the vid! gonna watch it tonight

      Comment by joyce — Saturday, August, 28, 2010 @ 8:50 pm


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