An incident occurred on an RV forum today that prompted the following thoughts. A joke was told by one of the forum participants, and while it was funny, there were a few that took exception of it on a “gender basis.” In reality, there were two aspects of the joke in which the first one was negative towards the male gender and the follow-up comment was negative towards the female gender.
While the joke had nothing to do with the idea for this topic, the replies on the forum did. It showed that there can be a tendency to comment based on one’s own philosophy without taking into account the philosophies of the others around. All which can lead to misunderstanding and terms and comments that really go over the line.
I believe that much of today’s philosophies are affected by political correctness, in that a number of people believe that we really have to protect the sensitivities of those around us. Well, first of all, being protective prevents those people with sensitivities from becoming accustomed with negative comments and thus being unable to overcome their “thin skinned” philosophy.
There are two occasions in my life where someone else actually was trying to cause harm to me by calling me a name. The first was as a teenage in high school when a Hispanic student called me “poor white trash.” Personally, I had never heard that phrase before and I really thought nothing of it as we certainly weren’t rich. The “white trash” never even registered with me as being offensive. Today, if called that, I would have to ask the one speaking, “What is your definition of ‘poor’?”
The second event was much later in life and someone called me an Okie.
Well now, my response to him really surprised him, and later, he confessed that he had actually called me an Okie because he wanted to offend and ridicule me. However, my response turned him around.
With many people, unless they’ve read “The Grapes of Wrath,” they have no idea of the negative connotation of the names “Okie” and “Arkie.” Basically, they were terms, usually used by those in the far western states, to demean those that traveled from the middle of the country to move to those areas and look for work. I guess they had some reason for dislike, after all, those Okies and Arkies were competing with them for work.
A surprise for many readers would be to know that I have never read “The Grapes of Wrath.” The following answer that I gave the individual that tried to demean me will help explain, because I grew up in that area, of parents and grandparents that had lived in that era. So, I knew those people. I had no need to read John Steinbeck’s book.
I told this individual that I had grown up in that area of country known as “The Dust Bowl” because the epicenter of that was in Boise City, Oklahoma, which is located in the furthest western county of the Oklahoma Panhandle. I was raised in the small town of Keyes, Oklahoma, which is only about 16 miles away from Boise City. While the Arkies weren’t affected by the Dust Bowl days, they were affected by the economy, as the depression was during that same era.
Then I told him that since I had grown up in that area and knew those people who survived that era, I had an entirely different attitude towards the term “Okie.” He looked stunned at first, so I explained in this way.
The people of that era, whether they moved to California or stayed in Oklahoma, were people of the greatest courage and optimism. After all, if the whole area around you is a great big “sandbox” with little chance of growing anything, why would you stay? Only courage and optimism, perhaps along with a little issue of having the cash to travel west, would have kept them there on the land.
By the same token, only courage and optimism, perhaps with a little cash in hand, would prompt people to travel over a 1000 miles to the west and across deserts to a place where there was no guarantee of a job. Some of those people traveling west loaded everything into the car with their family and planned to work along the way to continue to be able to buy gasoline for their cars.
However, there is a misnomer about the “Okies” fleeing from the Dust Bowl. Of the 1.2 million migrants that went to California at the time, only 16,000 were actually from the area directly affected by the Dust Bowl. A very interesting article is at this location on the internet:
While the “history” of the Dust Bowl may not really address my point of this posting, its effect on my parents and grandparents are likely what helped me “inherit” such an optimistic and courageous attitude because any of those traits that I possess are likely a result of their philosophies.
All of that is there to bring us to this point of what I meant by the title, “I Refuse….!
To fill in those dots in the title, it boils down to the fact that while I may someday actually be a victim of a crime or a catastrophic illness, I refuse to allow myself to become a victim of someone’s attitude or words. If I allow someone to use words to demean or otherwise harm me, then I would be a weak and cowardly individual. I prefer to allow words to just pass by me and allow me to engage those attempting to harm me in a meaningful way to hopefully make them a friend.
That is the Christian thing to do.
So, I refuse to allow anyone to make a victim of me unless it is as a victim of crime, and even there, I have the will and the where-with-all to protect myself of that form of victimhood. Oh, and even that can be the Christian thing to do.
So, go ahead and call me an Okie. I consider it a badge or honor. A badge I proudly wear because of my ancestors and the other people of their era and area.
Picture from the Oklahoma Panhandle from the epicenter area of the Dust Bowl. Can you see any trees or anything else to hamper the effects of a strong wind?