Thursday, September 19, 2013

BEWARE of STEREOTYPES

                                                                                       This is something authors have to keep in mind
Movie Goer
each time we create and write a character. And
stereotyping people is something we're too often
guilty of doing in real life. You only have to hear of
someone's occupation for a caricature to spring to mind.

One example: A MISSIONARY.

Now according to many Hollywood films I've seen, a missionary is usually seen as either of two types - a gentle, absent-minded soul who can't make it in the real world. Or a harsh tyrant trampling culture and forcing indigenous people to accept his own ingrained ideas of Christianity.

A real life occurrence of that mindset happened sometime ago. I'll fill in the background.

Many, many years before, five young male missionaries were speared to death in the steaming Amazon rainforests of Ecuador. They'd just begun to make overtures to the Auca Indians (as they were then known.) The mass media splashed the shocking headlines right around the world. Yet their sacrifice resulted in many great changes to those tribal people.

Now fast forward ....  When an a group of anthropology students asked permission to study these people, the tribe gave their consent. Some thirteen hours later after trekking through thick jungle and mountain gorges, the exhausted students reached camp...and fell on their faces. Once they'd recovered and eaten, the group began making pronouncements of how the missionaries had ruined their tribal culture. The people seemed puzzled. Then they were asked if they were worse off after being invaded by the missionaries, supposedly with the white man's germs killing them off.

When that was also translated the natives began to laugh uproariously. Now the students looked puzzled and asked, "What's so funny?" The tribal elders promptly answered: "No, no. We were saved from killing each other off." They then pointed out various tribal members and explained, "This man's father I killed, then his two brothers and his aunt." Another indicated a woman. "Her husband I speared, and her sister." Others soon joined in ... describing the routine of pay-back killings.

At that point the students' eyes grew rounder at the tale of horrific bloodshed.One of them asked the local missionary, "Are we safe here?"  But then the elder added, "Hating and killing we lived. But now Jesus has filled our hearts with His love. He has forgiven our many sins and now we want to tell other tribes about Him." Many an eye glistened and they experienced genuine embarrassment to realize just how far removed was the the stereotype of the bungling missionary.

Rita Stella Galieh is the author of two published books and is involved in an Australia-wide Christian radio program, VANTAGE POINT. This is an excerpt from one yet to be aired. She also shares real life stories of authors and anyone who cares to share about their personal romance/marriage in her weekly blog,
http://inspirationalromance.blogspot.com  Her contact is: ritagalieh  at  gmail  dot com  She'd love to hear from you!


2 comments:

  1. How bizarre. I left a comment yesterday yet it has not shown up. Good point about stereotypes, Rita and loved hearing your story.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Dale, this story always moves me!

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