Friday, September 04, 2009

People are People

Are we? If people are people, why are there so many physical characteristics, personality dimensions, and behaviors that ultimately identify us as unique individuals? I have heard time and time again: “We all bleed.” Yes, we do – but I contend that we are more different than we are alike because of secular conditioning.

That is totally opposite from what we were told in kindergarten. I am aware of that.

Over the years, I have tried to be fair and non recklessly judgmental. However, I am only human. “I am only human.” Isn’t it ironic that we typically hear this when someone is on the verge of doing something wrong/immoral? Isn’t it interesting that, “I am only human”, is prefaced during those times when we feel insecure? Isn’t it interesting that we present this to clarify why we “sinned”. Isn’t it revealing that we use this overplayed justification when we want to say or do something that mirrors our true feelings? Feelings that are usually hurtful/damaging to someone’s self concept or ego?

The use of the word ‘only’ within this declaration indicates to me that we, humans, understand ourselves to be limited. Somewhat defected or of lesser stature. Lower on the mammal chart: Are four legged creatures smarter? Wiser? Better decision-makers? Kinder?

Kindness is a personality output that I attempt to project into the universe both in my personal and professional life. Unfortunately, the make-up of my job prevents me from being as kind as I would like to be. I have to tell people ‘No’ more often than I would like, and in some cases my ‘No’ is communicated because an individual is too aggressive, limited in their education, and believe it not because he/she is significantly overweight.

I cannot imagine how it feels to be humiliated because of ‘fatness’. I cannot imagine what it feels like to be out of breath all the time. I cannot imagine having to sit in seats that are too small. I cannot imagine having to give the convenient and mischaracterized “my overactive thyroid” excuse for weight gain all the time. I cannot imagine being told ‘No’ because of obesity. These realities are in fact daily occurrences for ‘fat people’.

How they got to this place of obesity is never compassionately considered. Us, slim and in shape people really do not give a damn. We don’t. We just see these pathetic donut eaters as people who have no self control or the unfortunate beneficiary of the fat gene. We don’t take into consideration that their weight may be connected to psychological trauma. I, myself, have been known to temporarily soothe my emotional scars with food. Fortunately, the eating of a cheeseburger and fries at 11:00PM does not end-up as a disgusting bulge in my midsection. High metabolism, a dedication to working out for health reasons (high cholesterol and hypertension – THANKS to my unhealthy father), and a legitimate fear of getting fat does it for me. But, I have gained a few pounds in my old age. I am not the owner of a tight six pack anymore!

What I do wish I was the owner of at times are blinders. I wholeheartedly wish that I did not see the people I interview for employment. Here is why.

This past week I sat down with a young lady to talk with her about her work experience and her motivation for applying for the job I identified as a good fit for her via her resume. When I stepped out of my office to look for her I was amazed to find a woman who is about 5 feet 4 inches and weighing about 400 pounds. I was not surprised that she could barely get out of the chair as I approached her. I was not surprised that she struggled to take each step as she walked toward my small office. I was not surprised that she had to literally wrestle and tug to get in the seat I had available for her. I was not surprised that my mind had issued a ‘No’ before she articulated to me, in response to my question of her well-being, “I am tired.” What a way to start an interview for employment: “I am tired.”

I was tired too at that moment. Tired of being: Only human. And, tired of saying ‘No’ to another desperate job seeker.

My decision to issue a ‘No’ to this woman was not formed as a result of how she responded to my plethora of interview questions. I must admit, however, that even with her obesity she is not a ‘good fit’ for my program. That realization was a gift for me considering I did not want to face the dilemma of having a dynamic candidate with me having an Only Human mindset. My ‘No’ decision was rooted in what many of us become over time: Only Human. We cannot help it. This is what we are: Only Human. Full of prejudices and discriminations. And, sadly, pre-judgments.

Guess what?

People are People. I am who I am. A recycled product: Made in America.

This ‘No’ was sealed in my mind when I noticed that she was among America’s obese. I apologize for being American!

According to a study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, Between 15 percent and 30 percent also said they would rather walk away from their marriage, give up the possibility of having children, be depressed, or become an alcoholic rather than be obese.

Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by that flame-broiled double cheeseburger that Burger King has for one dollar.

TIME Magazine: America's Obesity Crisis


Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader Response:

"Full of prejudices and discriminations. And, sadly, pre-judgments. True…so True."

Well…..while you were amazed when you first laid your eyes on this woman. You did make the decision that she would not be a fit ( no pun intended). And Brian, it IS because you are human. When I watched Tyra Banks put on a fat suit and go out into public…it was so apparent, that people do definitely judge others based on looks. And it is not always based on weight. I am a “thick” sister, many like that. I don’t, so I am working on that thickness that does come age. It is a scientific fact that “good looking” people get jobs quicker than a less attractive person. Only people that TRULY base their decisions on merit and the way that people carry themselves are how articulate they are, are really the smarter human. I will say in all fairness….any perspective employee that sits in front of me and tells me they are tired ( even if they weighed 90 lbs.)….would turn me off right away. Un-professional to say the least.

That is also human nature. Some things just don’t set right with you.

Now…about that cheeseburger at Burger King……look away from the LIGHT!!!!......into the salad bar!!!!!


Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader Response:

What disturbs me is that we believe that it is ok to judge others because we are not what they are? judging someone because she is overweight is just as bad as judging someone because they are African or Asian. We are looking at their exterior and make assumptions about who they are or what they have that is worthy to offer to the world. Women in the U.S. struggle with their weight on a daily basis and for some they keep their weight at a manageable/semi healthy level. For others there weight pushed them into the category of being obese. But I ask what is the difference between those women who is a size 10-12 and a woman who is a size 26-30? Yes there are health concerns, yes there may be breathing issues but the bottom line is they are both "humans", they can both die young; they can both be wonderful people. But because society says that a women must be thin to have value the person who started as a size 14 is now a size 30. That person is probably depressed and may eat out of the need to have some comfort and some way to relieve the depression. They are often outcasts in society, they often are lonely and generally have no support. As you noted the first thing that we do when someone is overweight we ask ourselv es how many cheese burgers do they eat in one setting. This topic is close to my heart because as you know i have struggled with my weight and it has negatively affected my self-esteem. I think that it is un-humanistic for a person to be judged based on their weight, it is wrong to think that they should not be able to obtain employment. they too have to live, why is a person who is super skinny offered more opportunity then someone who is overweight? the same argument could be made for people who have mental and physical disabilities. we often pick on or judge other people because of the fact that we are not ready to face our own faults. when we realize that people are people no matter what they look like then we will shed these artificial boundaries.


Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Muata responds to MF:

u r in america: people are judged for everything. it ain't right. i have never agreed with it. we all products of the great USA. i don't agree with it whatsoever. i am only expressing my conditioning. also, both are unhealthy: too too skinny and too too overweight. i have interviewed women who are obviously battling with wanting to look the america way: skinny. it brought issues to me then just as the obese young lady. what we have in some cases in america is the inability to20practice self-control. i smoke too many cigars. i should not - but i do because of the feeling i get. some eat too many scoops of ice cream when they should not. in the end, this women must find a way to practice self control if not she will continue to bypassed. it is that simple. unfortunate - but that simple. we are creatures controlled by what we SEE. also, if we struggle with something DO SOMETHING about if we are unsatisfied with our weight. this is the BEST way to lose weight. PERIOD.


Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader Response:

thats a hard one to write...i am sure u got some slack on this one. I am sure we all don't want to admit that we have thought the very same thing about people.

however, I am sure this happens in other don't think that it happens in Europe or Asia????

Well written...


Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Reader Response:

So I really appreciated these commentary, you said a lot of things that people are afraid to say, and I think we all have the capacity to be "only human."

But it did make me sad. I think that what gets to me, is that this "only human" thing that we do quickly becomes an excuse to continue our sins and not take the opportunity to learn AND change them. And you are right, the obese in these country are the ones that take much prejudice and condemenation in our country, and I see people rationalize and excuse it over and over again. In some ways, people struggling with obesity just wear their flaws/weaknesses/mental problems/whatever you want to call it in a way that everyone gets to see it. They can't hide it, so therefore we get to pounce on and condemn it. Would have you known if you had a wifebeater in your office? A pedophile? Sex addict? Suicidal person? Would that have shaped your decision as well? But those things aren't seen or are as obvious, so therefore we don't judge. Why do we have such a strong need to feel better than others, and condemn rather than extend compassion? I wish I knew.

But, I do believe that the true test is to know where our judgements fall, and challenge them. Just like it's not okay if I knew and acknowledged that I was racist, and then continued to not serve diverse clients, or even hire them, the same has to be true for all of our prejudices. It's not just our awareness that we must take responsibility for, but rather our actions. And I agree with you, that can be really hard.

My Dad has always said that there are two kinds of people in the world, learners, and non-learners. Unfortunately, choosing to be learner can at times be well as heartbreaking.

Peace my friend.


Muata, The Shadow, The Black Rebel said...

Muata responds to SN:

Human beings are victims of what they have created. We have created a bad place. Now, we are dealing with the fallout. We, people, are cruel. Insecurity, especially, in America is eating away at humanity. Suffocating love. Actually, love for one another has been smothered - and ego has detrimentally flourished. No one to blame but AMERICANS!