Sunday, June 01, 2008

Thoughts on the Homeland

Sundays are probably my favorite day of the week. I absolutely adore getting up, going to church, having lunch, and then spending the afternoon at my parents home with my siblings (and Mama and Daddy, of course).

Today, as I sat at the table with the rest of the family, Dad asked what the kids thought about the sermon this morning. Each person put in their two cents about Boyd's sermon. It seemed that it was on love verses knowledge. The need for knowledge, the love of knowledge, how the Psalmist says that the beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord. This turned the conversation to the love of God, the simplicity of His love, and how our love for Him affects our love for others. I have no idea how, but this progressed to the discussion of race. If you know me well, you have probably heard me talk about how grateful I am for the way that my parents have raised my siblings and I in a way that is oblivious, in a way, to race. For all my joking about being "Mexican" and things being better because of it, I never even thought about the fact that it was a part of my background until a friend made a comment when I was in highschool. It has become a joke amongst my siblings and I, but it is still just a joke. My parents laugh and joke about it as well, but it is not something that they ever initiated. In fact, it took my dad awhile to find it funny at all.

I don't know that I have talked much about my parents, where they are from, and how they were raised. Let's start with Daddy. Born Pablo Manuel Garcia to Jesse and Manuela Garcia in Malakoff, Texas, my dad is not your stereotypical Hispanic. In our conversation today, he admitted that he made a personal choice years ago that he would never strive to be seen differently because of his Hispanic heritage. Growing up with his six brothers in a town where they were the only Spanish speaking family, Dad's family was separated from the Hispanic culture at a young age. He remarked today that he was especially grateful for God's grace in this matter, as the Hispanic culture is full of witchcraft, as well as a sense of entitlement of late. Because of my father's decision to integrate himself into the the culture of which he was a part, it is rare that he ever hears anything related to his heritage unless someone calls his office expecting a Spanish speaking dentist because of his name. He chooses to go by "Paul" rather than "Pablo" and is about as "East Texas" as they come. My dad is about 5'4", but stands with the stature of John Wayne. He is a man to be admired. He is wise, compassionate, funny, incredibly intelligent, and truly a man after God's own heart. I adore my father.

My mother was born Elizabeth Ann Yarbrough to Jerry and Bashie Yarbrough. She is the only girl with three older brothers and one younger. Raised during the sixties (in the south), my mom admits to struggling with prejudices and the stereotypes that go with that time period. Her dad was a fire fighter and she remembers being on family vacation in Florida when the call came asking her dad to come home because there were riots going on in their hometown. For three long days and nights, Mom and her family had no idea if her dad was OK or not. She remembers going to Matthew Elementary School and being in the first group of white kids to ever go there. My mother is superwoman. She has/is homeschooling eight children, helps my dad run his business, and is active in the homeschool group in our community. She is my best friend and I love her dearly.

You are probably wondering what my point is in all of this. Well, the discussion at lunch today got my thoughts racing. I was reminded again of my parents wisdom in their raising of us kids. Words cannot do justice in expressing the appreciation that I feel towards my parents because they have instilled in me a sense of respect and compassion for all people, regardless of color or ethnicity. I am grateful that they exposed me to an environment (the theatre) that, as Mary Lou so elegantly phrased it, was a sort of "Utopia for Equality." It was there, in addition to the teachings of my parents, that I actively embraced the idea of equality of all humans. It was during this time in my life, when I was completely immersed in the world of theatre, that I made a conscious decision to never identify a person according to their race when telling a story or talking about the guy or girl that walked up to me in Wal-mart or whatever the case may be. Instead, I chose to live by the example that my parents set for me. I am, by no means, perfect and there are, of course, prejudices in my heart. However, it is my desire to be open minded and free of prejudices against my fellow man. A lofty goal, I know, but one that is pressing on my heart.

"...When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God..."-Genisis 5:3

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..." -Declaration of Independence

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