Sunday, January 21, 2007

Two Prejudices

Beliefnet: Shmuley Boteach: Beauty vs. Babies and Beards

Of the many prejudices prevalent in society, there are two that are rarely addressed. The first is a prejudice against families with many children. I should know: We have seven, thank G-d, and I find myself apologizing wherever I go. The frequent stares loaded with disapproval and scorn seem to imply that the housing crisis in New York and the famine in Ethiopia were caused single-handedly by my own large brood. I suspect that now with seven, I present a most extreme example of selfish overpopulation. But any family with more than three kids meets with subtle, or not so subtle, condemnation from strangers. When I have broached this very issue with others who dare to overpopulate, they relate to the experience of suspicious stares and raised eyebrows. We have grown accustomed to the looks on the faces of strangers-first puzzlement, then pity, then scorn-as they try to fathom why we would voluntarily subject ourselves to such a horrific fate. But while we now know to expect it, I fail to understand it.
The second prejudice that seems largely overlooked is a cruel disdain against people deemed unattractive by society's standards-or at least those who aren't well-groomed and beautiful. Often the two prejudices come together, as if only those who are ugly or unconventional-looking would be dumb enough to have lots of kids.
There is something seriously wrong in the world when children are treated as a nuisance while dogs are treated as love objects. And there is something seriously amiss when appearance, rather than actions, can dictate likeability. There is something dangerously off track when men and women who love children, and aren't afraid to have large families, must feel apologetic and guilty for doing so. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, we await the day when our children will be judged by the content of their character rather than the comeliness of their skin. And we await the day when the fact of our children's existence is not judged at all, but seen as the embodiment of infinite blessing.

Our veneration of beauty and youth leaves no room for the unattractive or, God forbid, the younger who might take the spotlight off or the current generation.

No comments: