#352/365 – Gangsta’s Paradise

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Isn’t it funny how if someone like me stands in front of some graffiti, the automatic assumption is that I am a hard-nut… well… maybe if someone else stood in front  of it with gold chains and lots of bling and maybe sitting on the bonnet of a hum-v with 36" rims whilst wearing a big white fluffy fur coat made from the skins of the Queen’s corgis dipped in white gold or something…Stereotypes are somewhat dangerous in my eyes… I am forever trying to push boundaries in life particularly when it comes to the boxes people like to put us in… I have been a pastor, a chaplain, a musician, a graphic-designer, a Youth Ministry consultant, a trainer, a preacher and now a Photographer. I have built a deck with my own hands and no power-tools and I am a father and a husband… I don’t think people with little boxes like me very much…When I was working in England as a chaplain at a Secondary School, I was walking to my office and I got called into a Religious Education class by the teacher. He was talking about Stereotypes and wanted to ask me some questions… the dialogue went something like this:Teacher: Mr Ronberg, can you describe a typical Australian for us?Me: Certainly, they walk around wearing those funny hats with the corks dangling down…Teacher: Have you been to Australia before Mr Ronberg?Me: Why yes I have, in fact I have been 4 times to our quirky neighbour’s dusty land.Teacher: Mr Ronberg, how many people did you see wearing those hats with the corks on them?Me: Why sir, I believe the answer might be NONE!!!Teacher: Wow – so your stereotypical view of an Australian, doesn’t seem to be based on any reality?Me: Exactly – great point Sir… Oh sir, you know what else Australians are like?Teacher: Do tell good sir… (this is rapidly descending into a Monty-Python Holy Grail type skit)Me: Everyone walks around wearing thongs…(uproarious laughter from a mass of 12yos)Me: (embarrassed face at sudden realisation that the english call them flip-flops and kiwis call them jandals – thong is another article of clothing worn slightly higher up the leg)So you can see – we often have stereotypes that just aren’t based on reality. I have been asked for ID if I purchase a bottle of wine or a scratchy card from the supermarket if I walk in wearing a Hoody and a baseball cap… despite the fact that I am nearly twice as old as the people that can’t buy such things…I have to admit though, I carry around certain stereotypes and cliches in my head that effect how I view the community and people around me… To some degree, I think it is impossible to NOT have certain stereotypes, but to the best of my ability, I seek to treat each person I meet as an individual and let them speak before I make a call on WHO they are (as if I really have the right to do that, or as if I could ever really know WHO they are)…Wouldn’t it be nice if I could drive around in a humm-v and wear the regalia I mentioned above and people would really want to talk to me because of my thoughts on the struggling economy or my love for people… We would truly then be living in a Gangster’s Paradise.

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