Sunday, February 27, 2011

A web

Circumstances. What I've been thinking a lot about lately; that's why I wrote this last post. Most of us don't grow up in ideal circumstances. Broken families aren't at the core of it, they're just part of what results when we don't know where to go, when our ideal situations disappoint.

You'll never guess what I've been watching lately. My reasons for watching are related to trying to understand these less than ideal circumstances. I want to better understand what becomes of those who try to find their way when they've never had anyone to show them where to go and how to get there...

So I've been watching a few documentaries...about Tupac's life. Yep, you read that right. :)

I can relate to his need to express himself through writing. I never rapped (Wow, that would be hilarious if I did!), but I wrote a TON growing up. Nearly every day I'd write poetry. Then I was introduced to poetry slamming, and I loved that too. But I was never very good at either, especially the latter :). I enjoyed it all though; writing was my way of dealing with adversity. I also prayed. Even though I didn't understand how God worked, I knew he was there and that's why I never became an alcoholic. I truly believe that if God was not in my life growing up, I would've turned to drugs and alcohol (especially if my mom hadn't left my dad when I was one). I shutter to think of what would have happened if my mom would've stayed in that marriage. Though I love both my mom and dad, I realize that he wasn't ready to be a father. I respect my mother for giving and sacrificing so much so that I wouldn't have to struggle, even after she re-married.

But this isn't about me. I just wanted to explain my reasons for wanting to understand this artist. He never had a father in his life either, and he just dealt with life the only way he knew how. My heart breaks for those who come from broken homes and don't know where to go for guidance, both spiritual and mental.

I don't agree with everything he did, but I agree with some of the ideals he had. I also agree with his explanation for why gangs form. A sense of belonging and acceptance is something we all want. When there isn't a cohesive and stable family in place to help create this sense of belonging, children naturally look to things outside of themselves to find it. Studies and statistics say that girls try to find it in dysfunctional relationships, while boys attempt to find it in more aggressive ways.

This is why my husband is an inspiration to me, because he didn't become a statistic. Sometimes I think it's harder for boys than it is for girls (growing up without a father, I mean). All he had was a mother, grandmother, and 2 sisters. The love was certainly there, though, and he says that's what pulled him through and inspired him to rise above his circumstances. Still, he's told me how some of his childhood peers eventually brought more grief upon themselves because of the destructive choices they made, though they also had mothers and didn't have fathers.

The documentaries I've been watching shed light on these issues. In one of the interviews, Tupac discusses the struggles faced by young black and hispanic men. I know they're not the only ones, but one of my own cultural groups was mentioned, so I couldn't help but feel discouraged...and, surprisingly, also thankful.

A few days ago, Jose and I were talking and he said a few things that made me feel a little unsettled. He told me that after he expressed an idea in class, the professor referred to it as "Jose's Theory". Here's what made me sad to hear. Jose said that he was a little embarrassed that the professor kept saying his name, because of a negative comment that a student made a few years back when he was in high school. When a teacher was taking role during a school trip, one of the students expressed surprise that there was a "Jose" on the roster. Because, apparently, there weren't many hispanics in this school (the one my husband transferred over to so that he could receive a better education). I responded by telling him he should feel proud of his name; it makes me sad to know that he feels even a little embarrassed, all because of a ridiculous comment an immature high schooler made years ago. But with the immigration policies, and some of the negative talk being thrown around surrounding that issue, I can see why it's still causing some discomfort, even now.

Rambling aside, I respect everyone who is able to rise above their struggles, whatever those struggles might be. Whether you're the son of an immigrant family who just wants to improve society by making wise choices, or you're a hard-working respectful upper-middle class American whose great-great-great grandparents emigrated from Europe to the US to escape religious oppression, the responsibility is equal among all groups. Race, education, gender, religion (etc.) aside, we all have the God-given responsibility to improve ourselves so that we can help those who are struggling to do it alone, because their life's circumstances might be more dire than our own.

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