Family Life Course Lecture 5 Guide

“The Culture, Effects and Healing of Cursed Identities:
Shame and Redemption” (Part 1)
Prepared by: David A. Magalong, Jr.
 
A CULTURE OF CURSED IDENTITIES

•    Matthew 5:21-22
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder  and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, Raca,’ (‘good for nothing!’ or ‘wala kang kuenta!’) is answerable to the Sanhedrin (supreme court). But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ (or ‘ulol, gago, tanga!’) will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

•     James 3:9-10
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” (cf. Genesis 9:6)

•    Proverbs 18:21
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

•    Filipino Culture – culture of cursed identities

•    Damaged identities resulting from many years of colonialism, negative influence of Spanish profanity and Spanish machismo, as well as natural catastrophes, history of political and economic degradation, and broken and dysfunctional (shame-based) homes.

•    Damaged Identity -> Damaged Character -> Damaged Culture

SOCIAL EFFECTS OF DAMAGED IDENTITIES

•    Damaged identity, reinforced by the cultural influence of Western individualism at the top and grinding poverty at the bottom, produces a deep hunger for personal worth that can become a drive that is pursued without regard to or sometimes at the expense of others. It has helped reinforce:

– Pagkamasarili (individualistic self-interest)

Kawalan ng malasakit sa kapwa (apathy)

–  Talangka mentality (“crab” mentality)

–  Paghamak sa sarili at sariling bayan (self-reproach)

–  Paghamak sa kapwa (hostile mistrust and reproach of one’s fellowman)

•    “The capacity for getting along with our neighbor depends to a large extent on the capacity for getting along with ourselves. The self-respecting individual will try to be as tolerant of his neighbor’s shortcomings as he is of his own … The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbors as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant of others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves.” – Eric Hoffer

•    “Self-contempt, however vague, sharpens our eyes for the imperfections of others. We usually strive to reveal in others the blemishes we hide in ourselves … It is not love of self but hatred of self which is at the root of the troubles that afflict our world.”  – Eric Hoffer

•    “Persons of high self-esteem are not driven to make themselves superior to others; they do not seek to prove their value by measuring themselves against a comparative standard. Their joy is being who they are, not in being better than someone else.” – Nathaniel Branden

“DAMAGED CULTURE”

–  James Fallows, associate editor of The Atlantic Monthly (Nov. 1987), wrote an essay on the Philippines entitled, “Damaged Culture.”

–  He described the Philippines as “a society that had degenerated into a war of every man against every man.”

–  He noted that the distinctive attribute of our “damaged culture” was stubborn incapacity to identify with the public interest so that everyone looks out only for himself or his own kin. The result is a dichotomy between the individual and his society, a glaring absence of the sense of community.

JESUS REINTERPRETATION OF THE LAW ON MURDER

•    Matthew 5:21-22
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder  and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ (‘good for nothing!’ or ‘wala kang kuenta!’) is answerable to the Sanhedrin (supreme court). But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ (or ‘ulol, gago, tanga!’) will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

•    1 John 3:14-15
“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.”

•    Jesus here talks about vindictive anger (as the subject is about murder), not just common anger as a normal human response to offenses or disappointments.

•    Vindictiveness is not the same as correction; vindictiveness is not discipline. Discipline focuses on behavior. Vindictive anger (curse) attacks and damages the person for his wrong behavior. Vindictiveness does not seek to correct, it seeks to damage and destroy. It can only bring dishonor.

identity vs behaviour

EFFECTS OF CURSED IDENTITIES
Vindictive Anger Sows Four Dysfunctional Attitudes in others (spouse, children or other people):

1. REBELLION: because nobody wants to be degraded forever.
2. REJECTION: “correction = rejection.” Cursing a person because of wrong behavior communicates rejection of the person.
3. WORTH IS BASED ON PERFORMANCE: Honor comes from correct conduct. (Functional view of human worth: performance determines worth / value)

Consequences of the concept and attitude of performance-based worth:

– Success leads to self-exaltation or pride; failure leads to self-rejection.
– Leads to performance “drive” to please or gain acceptance or belongingness
– Leads to unfair comparison and destructive competition; jealousy / envy
– Causes us to look down, belittle, despise, degrade or reject others who fail to conform to expected behavior or performance standards
– Parents will pressure children to “perform” (get high grades, excel in any and every performance, never bring dishonor to the family), as a means of gaining or proving their worth or as a means of protecting the parents’ worth or reputation. Failure to perform according to parents’ expectations leads to the degradation or rejection of the child.

4. SHAME: the feeling of being rejected as a person and isolated from others because of something wrong I did; the feeling of wrongness of being, not just of action; leads to feeling of abandonment, loss of sense of belongningness, and ultimately, self-rejection.

SHAME-BASED HOMES PRODUCE DAMAGED IDENTITIES
Dysfunctional families are usually shame-based familes. They have the following seven unspoken “rules” that inflict shame to children:  (John Bradshaw, Healing the Shame That Binds You)

1. Always remain in control of all your behavior, feelings and circumstances, because you must always conform to expected behavior, or else!

2. Always be right and do it right. Never make a mistake or never lose at anything. All behavior must always conform to expected standards. Perfectionism rule in the family and there is no room or allowance for the learning and growing process. “Be good” means “Be perfect.” Do everything perfectly the first time.

3. When rules #1 and #2 fail and things get out of control, get angry and BLAME someone and get back at him (others, God, or yourself). Children are made responsible for the parents’ anger.

4. Deny everyone in the family five basic human experiences:

          -Feel (Control all emotions, it’s wrong to feel sad, lonely, hurt, fearful, or whatever. You’re not allowed to cry or show you’re hurt or afraid)

-Perceive differently (What parents say is always “right,” period. It is wrong to express a contrary opinion. You are not allowed to speak your own mind.)

-Need (Always be self-sufficient. Never bother anyone with a need. It is selfish and wrong and a shame to have a need or ask a favor.)

-Believe differently (Parents tell you the “Truth” all the time. Everyone else are to be held in suspicion. Everyone else is wrong and not giving you the truth.)

-Imagine (You have no right to imagine anything beyond what parents show you or tell you explicitly. Deny your “adventurous” thoughts, your intuition or hunches, and suppress all your “wild” ideas.)

5. Always hide and maintain secrecy regarding anything wrong (including parents’ wrong actions) or anything that can bring shame or dishonor to your parents or the family name.

6. Never acknowledge a mistake or make yourself vulnerable to anyone. Never bring shame to yourself even when you’re wrong or when you’ve done something wrong.

7. Don’t trust anyone. People and relationships are erratic and untrustworthy.

Shame thus causes us to focus on preserving or protecting our “image” before people (“image-management”) and please people, rather than focus on doing what is right to please God. Leads to compromise (people-pleasing) and dishonesty (avoidance of exposure: resorts to denial, concealment, or self- justification). Shame keeps people from upholding integrity in their lives.

EFFECTS AND MANIFESTATIONS OF DEEP SHAME OR DISHONOR

• “I don’t feel I’m of worth or I belong because of what I have done.”

• “I’m never ‘good’ enough to be accepted or loved, because I never measure up to expectations. I’m so bad.” (Here being “good” means being “perfect.”) (leads to self-degradation)

• “Something’s really wrong with me because I could never please people, inspite of all my efforts, and I hate myself for it. I wish was not who I am. I wish I was never born.” (leads to self-contempt or self-cursing)

• “I don’t deserved to be loved. I only deserve to be rejected, hated, condemned and punished – because I’m a bad person. I’m not worth loving.” (leads to self-condemnation and self-punishment)

• “I live to keep pleasing people, never myself, so I can gain acceptance and approval. I’ll do anything, even compromise what I believe, lie, or even sacrifice everything I value, just to feel I belong and that I’m ‘good’ in their eyes.” (leads to abuse by others and to self-abuse)

• “I’m never good enough in their eyes anyway; I’ll just do everything that they hate, to show them that I’m really everything they think of me, that I’ve finally accepted that I’m really a bad person, and so I’ll show them and get back at them!” (shame leads to rebellion)

• “I can never let people know who I really am. Because they may not like me. I’ll just keep putting up a face before people. I can’t be honest. I can’t be myself. I’ll just have to live a lie so I can be accepted and feel that I belong.” (leads to loneliness, withdrawal and isolation)

GENERATIONAL BLESSING AND CURSE
In the late 1880’s, Benjamin B. Warfield, a professor at Princeton University, traced the known descendents of Jonathan Edwards. Edwards was the first president of Princeton and one of the key preachers in religious revival known as the “Great Awakening” during the eighteenth century.

Richard Dugdale, a sociologist and a contemporary of Warfield’s, traced the known descendents of Max Jukes. Jukes was a Dutch immigrant that arrived in New York in the early 1700’s. He was an atheist and an alcoholic who couldn’t hold a job. He married a prostitute.

blessing vs curse

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