I believe just about everyone suffers from some type of internalized stigma – some much more than others, very much a matter of degree and the source of the stigma. That does not mean that there aren’t many people with healthy self-esteem. But many of these people, sometime in their life, experienced internalized stigma. Overcoming this stigma can and does create both wisdom and that healthy self-esteem.
I have for some time written and spoken about my “internalized stigma.” That concept could also be applied to race and religion, for all sorts of people, from the caste system in India to poor people globally.
It’s a matter of low self-esteem due to society’s view of you, or more pertinently, your own view of yourself through that eternal prism. This also pertains to gender, appearance, and so many human qualities.
What is the solution to these external factors which are then internalized? Some of these difficult stigmas can be overcome if one by one, million by million, billion by billion, we come to realize through faith that each of us and all of us have a “little piece of God” since the dawn of humankind.
Since 1963 I have lived with and eventually overcome the internalized stigma of bipolar disorder, and whatever other mental difficulties I received through my environment. My experience was that building genuine self-esteem with humility and without arrogance was no easy task with mental illness. I suspect this would be the same for others, whether they are overcoming stigmas associated with gender, race, religion and other human conditions.
We humans tend to label people far too quickly. The reality of it is that we are much more alike than we are different. I believe one essential key to overcome humankind’s toughest problems is to reach out globally to invoke a faith that each of us and all of us have a “little piece of God.” Thus, we must be kind to ourselves and all others, including those that don’t fit our perceptions of “our kind of people.” After all, we are all God’s children and we should not judge others with bias and prejudice, especially from appearances alone.
Government and charities can help in terms of health and education. But only business can solve the world’s poverty, especially for the 2.7 billion people who are living on $2 or less per day. Gandhi stated that “violence begets violence.” I fully agree. The reverse is true, too, as I have written: “Kindness begets kindness.”
I want to be, and it is my calling to be, a pathfinder toward Heaven on Earth, whether that involves being a public servant or serving like Gandhi did. That will be up to others to assess. I thank God for the opportunity to serve in whatever I am lead.