I was watching Good Morning America this morning, between pouring batter onto the griddle for pancakes and taking up said pancakes, and a segment came on with Tyra Banks (I think she is a model, and I hope I spelled her first name correctly). It seems that Ms. Banks has a TV show of her own, an Oprah-esque type of thing. The subject of one of her recent shows was about a social experiment she conducted entitled "Tee*nville." She set up a grid of a town and had about eight high school students come in and role-play the actions of setting up the town. One of the first things the kids had to do was choose, as a group, who would get certain jobs, from clergyman to prost*itute. They didn't show the entire process, but they told about how the teens chose the girl who would be the pro*stitute: the one with the heavy eye makeup. They said she looked loose, so that is the job she got. They also had to choose a "homeless person." The person they chose was a very overweight girl who was dressed less neatly than the rest. The reasons they gave for choosing this girl, very bluntly, I might add, were that she was sloppy, had no ambition, played video games all the time, and she "looked" homeless. Hmmm. Pretty interesting. I'd like to make a couple of observations on this, if I may.
First, no matter how much people try to deny it, how you look does matter. If you look like a prosti*tute (Proverbs speaks of a woman with the attire of a harlot), people will assume you are morally loose. If you are sloppy, people will assume that you are a slob with no ambition or self-discipline. How you look does say something about you, don't you think? One of the pet phrases in Christianity is "God looks on my heart." Well, yes He does. But the flip side of that is that man can only see the outside of you, and we assume that what's on the outside reflects what's on the inside. I'm not condoning these kids branding those two girls, and doing so so harshly, but I am saying that how you look does matter. Regardless of what everyone says.
The other observation I made concerned these kids' parents. Not one parent was upset with how their child treated others; every one of them was upset that someone thought or said something mean to their child. Does that tell you anything?! It should tell you why kids are so self-absorbed and self-centered (other than simple immaturity)! Their parents teach them that no one has the right to hurt them. They aren't concerned that their children do right. They're not concerned that their children treat others with respect. All they care about is that their child is treated fairly and is never hurt. What are these parents going to do when their child loses a job, or is hurt by a spouse, or is cheated out of some money? We have to teach our children that unfairness happens, that people will not treat you as if you were the center of the universe, and that you will be disappointed in life at some point. Give them skills to cope with real life! We have an entire generation of children who think that everything has to go their way or not at all!
When I was expecting Samuel, over 18 years ago, I was in the lab at the hospital having some blood tests run. There was a mother in there who had a sick little boy, and the doctor was concerned enough about his symptoms that he ordered blood tests. This mother was pitching a royal fit saying that they were not going to hurt her little boy, no matter what was wrong with him! How foolish she was. If her little boy had cancer, she was refusing the very thing that would help him. If he had diabetes, he could be dead within days without a diagnosis and insulin. All because she didn't want him to suffer a moment of pain. She was willing to trade his entire future to keep him from experiencing the momentary prick of a needle. That's the attitude of many parents now. Peace and comfort for their child at all costs.
I just needed to sound off about this. I am in no way condoning children treating each other harshly, or letting people run all over your children, or allowing them to be hurt purposely. There is a time for standing up for your child, and there is a proper way to do it. And I'm not saying it's right to judge a person solely by what they wear or how they look. The Bible teaches that God is no respector of persons, and we should do all in our power to love and cherish each person as He does (James 2). I am saying, however, that no matter how much it shouldn't be this way, people do make assumptions based on how you look. That makes me want to "approve things that are excellent" (Philippians 1:10), all the way down to how I look.