I write this article not to preach but to give comfort to anyone who has ever felt unvalued and disregarded by those who are closest to them. During my community organizing days, I used to frequently say “proximity breeds indifference” but I did not really understand the true depth of that statement back then. The more I worked to get Ethiopians recognized for our contributions to America and the more I held various events to promote our culture to a wider audience in order to empower our community, the more callousness I felt from my own community. What started with wanting to make a difference for my people eventually led me to a dark place—resentment almost consumed me.
If only I knew then what I know now; those who are closest to us rarely acknowledge our light. It takes distance and disconnection for people to see our luminance. As much as Michael Jackson was beloved by hundreds of millions of people around the world, his father was rarely happy with him and beat him to a pulp to express his displeasure. Even though I have changed my mind about him, the same was true of Barack Obama. After all, it was not until Obama won lily “white” Iowa that his own people flocked to him. Until his victory in the Hawkeye State, Barack was an afterthought as close to 60% of “black” people were intent on voting for Hillary Clinton.
One of the most profound verses that I’ve ever read in the bible was an observation that Yeshua made about the way He was being treated by His own people. When people heard Him speak, many were astonished at the level of wisdom He spoke with and how he was able to distill complex issues in ways that were easily understood by the masses by using parables and simple narratives. The keepers of Moses’s laws, who referred to themselves Pharisees, were livid that this man who did not belong in their secretive societies dared to speak against their authority and had the audacity to empower the people they were crippling.
The way the Pharisees reacted was understandable; Yeshua was threatening their hustle by speaking against usury (capitalism) and in the process liberating them from the malicious paternalism of the Pharisees. What was unexpected is that the very people He was helping eventually turned on Him; the more miracles He performed, the more they maligned Him. In one particular instance, after He arrived in Nazareth—the very town He was from—He was roundly dismissed by the people who knew him the best.
Mildly stunned at the rebuke He received the minute he set foot in Nazareth, Yeshua turned to his disciples and said something that every artist, writer, dancer and creative people writ large can appreciate:
“Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t His sisters here with us as well?” And they took offense at Him. Then Yeshua said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own household is a prophet without honor.” ~ Mark 6:3
The level of indifference and outright contempt that Yeshua was treated to in Nazareth was not an outlier but a norm. While the Pharisees who were fleecing the people and bludgeoning them with unjust laws were being treated like royalty, the One who came to deliver them was frequently derided and dismissed. In the end, after the Pharisees finally had enough of His rebellion against their depraved authority and had Pontius Pilate crucify him, only Mary his mother, Mary Magdalene and Mary the wife of Clopas were by the cross as He bled to death. Tens of thousands He fed, only three were by His side as he drew his last breath. His story is the soundtrack of humanity, prophets of peace and unity always get silenced by profiteers who magnify their fortunes through human suffering.
It's a story that is as old as the Bible, one prophet after another has been murdered by the establishment for daring to speak up for justice. Hated by many while they live, messengers of peace like Martin Luther King are adored by millions after they are assassinated. pic.twitter.com/tcheKhPI6S
— Teodrose Fikremariam (@Teodrose_Fikre) July 25, 2021
I thus give this advice to all creative people; when it comes to your craft, do not expect to be supported by those who are the closest to you. Though your parents might love you, though your siblings might go to the wall for you and your friends might be there for you at your time of need, when it comes to recognizing your God-given talent, you have better chances of being appreciated by complete strangers than you are of getting praise from your loved ones. Do not spin your wheels trying to gain their attention or waste precious time pleading with them to support your endeavors, just do what you were brought into this world to do and let your work speak for itself instead of seeking validation from family, friends and neighbors.This is for all artists, singers, dancers and creative people in general, even if those closest to you don't see your light keep shinning because your work is luminance for those who need it the most:: #ProximityBreedsIndifference Click To Tweet
I write this as a reminder to myself as much as I write this for others. Once in a while, I feel the old resentments creep up realizing that the very Ethiopians whom I love dearly rarely appreciate what I do. Out of the thousands of people who visit Ghion Journal daily, only a tiny fraction are Ethiopians. I write about my homeland in ways that no one in mainstream media does as I offer nuances and historical perspectives that are always lacking in articles published by Washington Post, New York Times and their ilk. Yet my articles about Ethiopia and our history, culture and significance largely go unnoticed by my community while countless thousands of Ethiopians flock to articles that are written by outsiders, many of whom have hidden agendas.
So if you are a small business owner who is frustrated because those closest to you rarely patronize your establishment or an amazing singer who uploads videos online only to get livid because your own friends won’t share your video, I understand your irritation but do not let bitterness infect your heart. You have a gift, if those who are next to you won’t appreciate it, kick the dust off your sandals like Yeshua advised and find new circles and join communities that will. If you have to, travel to new towns because remaining rooted in one location too long is a breeding ground for inertia.
I want to take this moment to especially convey this message to empaths, whom most creative minds are. Many don’t understand you but I know your struggles because I bear the same cross that you have foisted upon your back. The source of your art, in whatever form you manifest it, is pain that was felt a long time ago. You made the decision to paint over the canvas that harbors agonizing memories with hues that reinvent your universe. The same inspiration that leads you to create also compels you to take care of others, but empathy can’t come at the cost of self-care. You can’t empty yourself trying to fill the buckets of other people lest you end up being a forgotten martyr.
The same way Yeshua was derided by the people He helped while those who crucified Him were fawned over by those they oppressed, critical thinkers who refuse to join the debased (I refuse to call them elite) will always be devalued while neo-Pharisees like politicians, pundits and media personalities are idolized. I am frequently castigated by many because I rightly question Big Pharma and criticize elected officials, but two years of homelessness toughened my skin and taught me this one important lesson. People venerate the rich and powerful because they want to be like them and devalue talented individuals who have not made it big because their “lack of success” reminds them of their own deficiencies.
A prophet has no honor among his own people because his or her people are too blinded by idol worshiping to recognize talent creators and entrepreneurs who are right under their noses. It’s not out of malice that they ignore you, we live in a world where flash is sought more than substance. Maybe one day we will arrive at a juncture where we judge people based on the content of their character, but for now, we must accept that society only appreciates those who have veneers of wealth and achievements.
Don’t get upset with people who won’t support you and reject the temptation to play the part of a victim in the process, doing so will lead to your crucifixion and it will be you who will drive the nails in your own hands. Continue to create and in time many will see your worth. But even if no one does, who cares! Do what you love because you love doing it instead of seeking love from others. Validation seeking is a drug and the only cure is to find love within yourself. Peace and God bless::
“Let all that you do be done in love.” ~ 1 Corinthians 16:14
Given the way social media sites are censoring independent journalists and anyone who questions mainstream media narratives, we’re asking our readers and supporters of speech to print out these cards that direct people to my articles and hand them out locally. Every article from now on will be converted card size handouts, the handouts can be found by clicking on the LOW TECH button in the menu. If they try to silence our voices on social media, let us be the media and socialize this idea.
After much reflection and prayer, I have decided t stop asking people to contribute money to Ghion Journal when I’ve been blessed so abundantly already. God rescued me from homelessness, sent me an angel by the name of Bethlehem who is now my wife and blessed both of us with a son who is the light of our world, we don’t need the money, I ask you to help others who need it. If you want to contribute to us, I just ask you to redirect that money and give to homeless shelters like the one I used to live at six years ago or give the money to homeless people directly. You don’t have to worry about what they will do with that money, your charity ends by giving it.
If you want to support me and the Ghion Journal beyond financial contributions, I just ask that you share this article widely and to do so not only on social media but on text, email and most importantly, voice conversations and in-person meetings. As evidenced by the Biden administration working directly with Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube to silence us, we must go low tech to overcome their high-tech censorship. Let us return to what allowed us to thrive instead of shriveling behind firewalls. Thank you.
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