“Losing Shame”

“Tolerance, white.”

This is my theme for this entry in the We Imagine Peace (Global Art Collaboration Project). After spending some time thinking about this theme, I found tolerance a difficult subject in the goal of promoting world peace, because I see the word as meaning accepting something negative, or the practice of permitting a thing of which one disapproves, such as social, ethnic, sexual, or religious practices. I believe tolerance is a starting point which should eventually disappear in favour of acceptance. 

So I had to think of how to represent this, and decided to relate it to my personal experience.

The figure in the drawing is my great grandfather, representing (in this case) generations of poor ideologies and false conceptions, mainly as a result of the times, and how small the world was for the individual a century ago. My father frequently used racial slurs in his everyday language- I don’t believe this was motivated by hatred- I believe it was learned behavior, and that he did not conciously mean to cause any harm. He certainly did not intentionally promote any ill will toward people of other ethnic origins in our home. However, using language like this is harmful even in the smallest measure. I have explored the concept of ‘generational sin’ in some previous writings, equating this inherited behavior with the term family shame. I felt that this was a good topic to illustrate “losing the shame” of intolerance.

The writing in the background of this piece is an excerpt from an essay on the psychology of using racial slurs in language. The gist of it is that stereotypes are a result of a lack of knowledge, and misconceptions can lead one group to see themselves as superior to another. Using racial slurs in speech is referred to in this excerpt as “the language of oppression.”

Today, with so much information and knowledge at our fingertips, and within reach of our youth, misconceptions and stereotypes are beginning to fade. Even in today’s world of mistrust between nations, truths are easier to find, which leads to understanding and combats fear and hatred, creating more tolerance.


Find common ground.

I am happy to report that in my home racial slurs are NEVER used, and we promote acceptance and learning about that which is not understood. We are actively LOSING THE SHAME of our former generations.

Why the jellyfish? Some Google searching revealed that it is sometimes seen as a symbol of tolerance because of its minimal impact on the environment- they rely on the currents of the ocean and the winds to move it in the direction it needs to go, (in other words, they ‘go with the flow’) and they take only the food they need.

Thanks for taking a look! Let me know what you think….



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23 thoughts on ““Losing Shame”

  1. Congrats. Wonderful post. Love the conceptual aspect of the piece and the image.

  2. eyespider says:

    I find this piece really beautiful and evocative. It was interesting to read about the thought process that went into creating it. Of course it helps that I have a weakness for jellyfish

  3. clinock says:

    Beautifully written and deeply felt thoughts and the image is superb. If you agree I’d be honoured to use the image as part of art rat’s Text in Art ‘The 100’ series – with maybe a shortened version of the philosophy and a short blurb on the creative process, size etc. Let me know.

  4. Helen Cherry says:

    Glad to see you back Scott.. I completely agree about the learnt behaviour. When I lived in Ireland and my children were small my late father-in-law would talk about “papists” a lot( he was protestant ) but he was universally loved by all his neighbours and had friends on both sides of the divide.
    Papists was considered a derogatory term then..
    But.. I don’t completeley agree

    • Helen Cherry says:

      oops I posted that by accident before I’d finished. I was going to say that I don’t agree that stereotypes are always based on lack of knowledge and I’ll explain why
      As a Social Worker I have witnessed that this can be based on experience. I have worked with an ethnic group where, for example, I have personally seen that women are widely treated very poorly indeed by the men in their lives ( cultural differences ) so if I was not a thinking, reflective person the stereotype would easily become that all men from this ethnic group will treat women badly.
      Most people have prejudices of one sort or another, sometimes based on what they have seen and sometimes on nothing at all except as you say learned behaviour (the really dangerous one) .
      It’s what we do about our innermost prejudice that’s important. If we are reflective as I have said we will think about why we feel like that and address it within ourselves so that it does no harm to ourselves or more importantly to others.
      I know this is controversial Scott so I hope it doesn’t cause a storm but I believe if people honestly recognise their human failings they are more likely to do something about correcting them.
      I might add that I never allowed papist to be used in my house or any other racial slur for that matter.
      Excellent thought provoking piece Scott.

      • artboy68 says:

        Thank you Helen for this most excellent comment- my hope for this piece is that it will be thought provoking; your observances are a great addition to this post!

  5. This is so amazing, I love it!

  6. Beautiful comprehension…. love the thoughts n ideas put behind its conception..

  7. artboy68 says:

    Thank you Suneha!

  8. Barbara says:

    absolutely awesome, both the art and the words, you have a gift!

  9. You always give us something to think (deeply) about. Amazing work.

  10. occultoantonio says:

    W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L Post, my friend. It’s important your argumentation. I am very impressed by your speech. and your work is intelligent. Take care, Scott.

  11. fiztrainer says:

    AWESOME!! I loved this entire post. Your artwork is splendid. I never have experience with intolerance growing up, but when I starting dating my husband, I was thrown headlong into a world I never knew. His dad was totally racist for the exact same reasons you described here. I remember telling him I named my daughter Vanessa and he spewed all kinds of racist stuff about what the name conjured up in his mind. It’s sad really because hatred is so crippling. I feel that if you’re really going to have that much hatred and intolerance, at the VERY least, let it based on some kind of experience and knowledge. Thank God, my husband feels like you do and we are “intolerant” to “intolerance”.

    • artboy68 says:

      Amen! Thank you so much for this comment; this really is the whole point of the “We Imagine Peace” project- I’m glad I was able to connect with you!

  12. I feel the same way about the word “tolerance.” I always think about weight tolerance, about how many bodies an elevator will hold before it collapses and falls, killing everyone. This piece resonates for the writer in me. I love the idea that ink erases (blots out?) shame because for me, writing helps me get to the heart of things. Also, that nature (naked truth) will prevail against warped human constructs. Love this.

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