Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May, Day 8: Learn To Recognize a Lie

In a recent post, I mentioned that I watched a documentary on the White family of West Virginia. [This is not a recommendation that you watch it...it is simply a reflection.] The Whites are an appalachian "hillbilly" family...they seem to proudly epitomize the grand title of "poor white trash". Their generations are full of young deaths and lifelong incarcerations and broken families, due to drug use, violence, and ignorance (I do not say that condescendingly...I just don't know a better word for it). The members of the family speak vulgarity with every breath. Watching the film, the audience gets a sense of the "family pride" - I think most families have some sense of pride, or "belonging" maybe, that unites them and holds their sense of dignity in place, regardless whether others would ascribe to them the same level of honor. But the undercurrent of this documentary was one of pain and shame...and resignation.

Some members of my own family had problems with alcohol and drugs when I was growing up, and I remember a scene from when I must have been very young, and Children's Services came and took a child (a cousin of mine) from the arms of his mother while they both cried and attempted in vain to cling to each other (this also happened in the White film). It was quite pitiful. Don't get me wrong - the intervention needed to take place, and it was a result of poor choices by the child's parents. But it was still heartbreaking, because (as I now understand) that mother was only continuing the same kind of life choices everyone else in her family had made before her. It was the family's "way", I guess you could say. I don't know if it ever once occurred to this person that she could make different choices and get different results.


And there we see the problem. As with the Whites and also this incident from my own experience, I think the root problem comes down to what people believe about themselves. Either they think they are too stupid, or too poor, or too gross, or too bad, or just destined by God to be this way...whatever they think, they believe a lie that says there is no way to change, and even if there was a way, they for some reason or other don't deserve a good break. Poor white trash (please forgive the racial slant of that phrase - I am only using it because everyone knows what it means, and I'm pretty sure it was used in the film. But I believe this principle holds for all people regardless of race).

One of the White sisters in the film talked near the end about how she was going to end up in Hell. She joked about it a little, but there was a shame and a sadness in her eyes. It made me ponder the question, "If she really believes she is going to hell, what keeps her from making the choice(s) necessary to change that?"

The only reasonable answer I could come up with was that she believes she can't. For whatever reason, she believes her destiny is set and all she can do is buckle down and enjoy the ride.

Whether you consider this from a Christian/evangelistic perspective (she and the rest of her loved ones need to know Jesus loves them and can change their lives and eternal destination) or a social justice perspective (this family needs some type of intervention to curb their continuing trend toward crime and violence, to make society better), some of the same questions must be answered: How can this family be helped? What is the mindset that needs to be addressed here in order to promote change? How can they begin to recognize the lies that keep them in bondage to this way of life (let alone combat those lies)?

My advice to you (as per the prompt of today's blog post) is to examine your own thoughts and see if there are any lies you believe that keep you from making changes for the better, or pursuing what you really want in life.

12 comments:

  1. Very deep and thoughtful post. So many people are trapped in lives they don't want because they don't know any better and believe themselves powerless to change it.

    Fact is, anything can be changed if you fight hard enough.

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  2. I would be perfectly happy if my family life was ok. but I am positive that I have a life to live whether or not they want to be in it or no.

    Great post.
    Yvonne.

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    1. I watched the movie and saw the cycle of shame, defeatist behavior, and ignorance (both social and educational). I wondered if that false pride was a defense against feeling the pain of forced social isolation from the community. True that everyone has choices. But those choices are of no use if you don't even know they're available to you. Great post Miss Melody.

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    2. That is a great thought. I would guess you are correct. Thank you for commenting!

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  3. this is some really good advice. if you believe you will be unlucky you will see everything in an unlucky light just like a self-fulfilling prophecy. So if you believe you have no other choice than being the way you are right now you might can't see how to change or want to...maybe

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  4. wow, you put it really well. it makes me think about my life

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  5. I know from experience that you can change the cycle. I wasn't close to my parents and I was determined I was never going to be like that with my girls and I'm glad to say that we are very close.



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  6. Wow, Melody. A very powerful post.

    I would venture to guess that no one escapes family dysfunction of one kind or another. The question is the type and degree.

    We do seem to accept what we are born into, and we become formed by it. But there is a quote from a Mary Chapin Carpenter song that I have always remembered: "We've got two lives. One we're given, and the other one we make."

    Not only are we fed family attitudes, but we are lied to by the media, I would venture to say, in this: You are not good enough. How do I mean that? Look at all the marketing strategies that imply that in some way you need to improve yourself to be worthy. Are your teeth white enough? Are you 'hip' enough? Of course, the ever present Are you thin enough? But there are so many messages coming at all of us, from birth, that who we are is not good enough. Marketing seems to work, I'd say we tend to believe it.

    I do agree with you that we are imprisoned by our own negative beliefs about ourselves, and sadly what we choose affects others. A healthy outlook can be hard to achieve but it is worth working toward. It makes me sad when any one believes the worst about themselves and then acts based on that.

    Great post!

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  7. Very well written post, Melody. Food for thought.

    I believe that ignorance is the greatest of prisons. To educate ourselves we must take risks, and risk-taking is an awesome task in a world not yet explored.

    Thank you for your encouragement. You are a beacon of Hope.

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  8. Well said, Melody. Thank you for this post.

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  9. Thanks for visiting and for your lovely comment!

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  10. This is also what prevents a person from being helped by others. When they believe a lie about themselves, you can't help them unless you can get them to stop believing in the lie, which is very difficult to do. They have to do most of that work themselves. Great advice!

    Kristen's latest #BlogEveryDayInMay post: Everyday in May: Honesty is the key

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