I finished reading the book on the Greeks the other day and last night was looking through the 60+ pieces of art included in the picture section. Three times the author makes mention of the Greeks' disgust with physical deformity and how the statues wouldn't show, say, an Amazon who cut off her right breast in order to wield her sword with more proficiency because they didn't really want to picture an abnormality. Even a man playing the pipes would be of the servant class since "well-born Greeks avoided any physical distortion, and pipe playing, because it distorted the cheeks, could not be taken up by citizens."
For what it's worth: "the lyre was their instrument."
I was kind of surprised to read this.
Not sure it's exactly related, but that coupled with the niqab talk going around - thanks to France - and a video I saw earlier today, got me to thinking about "otherness" and how much of it we will allow to touch and maybe even influence our lives.
I think some people are much more tolerant than others, but maybe even those who have seemingly high degrees of tolerance have their limits.
It might be someone with a different culture or religion. Someone of a different race. I remember a friend married to a Greek man told me some of her inlaws believed blue-eyed people were evil. Maybe you dislike people of other genders. Or those of different sexual orientations. Maybe you don't like those who speak another language than you? Those who can't speak your language without a thick accent? It could be any number of things. Perhaps you are Catholic and greatly dislike Protestants. Or a Sunni who despises Alawaites or Druze. Or a Republican who has no time for someone on the opposite side of the aisle.
In reality we could divide ourselves all day, couldn't we?
In my own case, I think it's funny to think about my past. I grew up in an almost all-white, all-Protestant school and church. Even then I found people from other parts of the country so interesting. Since they were still white Protestants, I'd detect their different accents and culture. So fun. I've always been fascinated by foreigners, but my area is not that diverse so my mingling with them wasn't an everyday occurrence. I still recall my time at the community college. I had black classmates for almost the first time ... and found many of them quite fun. In fact my best friend for a time was a young black man who grew up completely differently than I although we lived in the same small county! We'd sit together at breaks and talk about our backgrounds. I remember asking him why black people named their children such funny names. Yes, I'm brazen like that sometimes, but we had that kind of friendship. And I've always been curious about names so why not ask? :)
Then most of you know my interest in Syria and by default other Arabs and Muslims and Middle Easterners and that all started with God bringing Samer into my life. He and I were talking about this just recently because we are still often amazed at how two people of such vastly different backgrounds became dear friends. On paper you never think of folks like us having enough in common to form a lasting friendship. A passing acquaintance...no problem. I have those all the time with a wide variety of people. But a true friendship?
It's something for which I thank God.
So how much otherness can you handle? Are you like the Greeks? Do you draw the line at physical deformities
(and do those include such things as puffy cheeks from someone playing pipes?) Have you had experiences with "other" people that you found surprising in good or bad ways? Learned any valuable lessons? Made any dear friends? Share your experiences if you'd like.