Monday, December 8, 2008

Caught in the Margins

I was talking to my cousin the other day about his frustration over feeling inferior to BYU students. This frustration has been the result of vibes he's been getting from BYU students when they find out that he's a student at UVU. He feels like they look down upon him as being less intelligent or less righteous. This bothered me because as a BYU student myself, I hate to think that people would have negative views of BYU or BYU students. Of course, my cousin made sure I was aware that he loved BYU, but he was just frustrated by the feeling he sometimes gets from BYU students. He said that the most frustrating thing to him was that he had been snubbed by some girls once because of his status of being a UVU student. How sad!

So, when he left and I was feeling less defensive I could see his point of view more and how that would be really frustrating. I would be just as worked up about it if I were in the same situation. And I do get worked up in similar situations, for example, when someone asks about my ACT test scores or whether I have or had a scholarship. It's so frustrating to be subject to prejudices! The thing is, I make assumptions too. I'm not sure there are many people who don't. But, knowing how it feels to be pre-categorized, I would not want other people to feel that way because of me.

In my New Testament class something we've talked about is how Jesus did not judge people according to societal prejudices. He spoke with the woman at the well, who happened to be a Samaritan which was cause to be looked down upon by Jews in that day. She was also a woman, which also placed her lower in society. Yet, despite this, the account of her conversion shows that regardless of one's background, they may be receptive to the gospel, and perhaps even more receptive than someone else who supposedly ought to be more receptive.

Just as Jesus gave that woman and so many others a chance without letting society's prejudices influence his judgment, I hope I can do the same. In my experience I've found that often my first impressions are wrong, and it's exciting to find out that someone is just as much a person as I am and that they aren't so annoying or so unapproachable or whatever it was that they initially seemed to me. It is then that I reallize how silly it is to judge people based on so little information. If those girls had just given my cousin a chance, they would have gotten to know him better and would have realized that he is intelligent (intelligent enough to have gone to BYU had he felt right about it) and strong in his testimony of the gospel. They might have enjoyed his sense of humor and sponteneity and they likely would have found him to be quite a wonderful and delightful acquaintance.

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