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The Power of Influence

In Cebu, a little island in the Philippines, is where I learned about the power of influence.  I had been in one of the cities on the island for a short time, now, and things had quickly become common knowledge.  Fish or rice would be a staple for breakfast, you would sweat indefinitely, and the smiles of the locals was all I wanted to see.  I was traveling with a performing arts group, whose purpose for being there was to put on a large campaign of concerts to express the value of life, and show people that they do have a reason for living a full and joyful existence.

After each show we did, we would have a chance to speak to the locals; hearing their life stories and hopefully being able to encourage them in our own little ways. 

After each show we did, we would have a chance to speak to the locals; hearing their life stories and hopefully being able to encourage them in our own little ways.  Following one of our performances, I noticed five teens standing in a group talking.  They had there hair all done, with makeup on their eyes and lips, and wearing pink and purple tops….they were also boys.  I walked over to them and began to ask them about the show, just making small talk before asking the hard question.  I wanted to know why they dressed that way; why would they wear female clothes if they were so obviously boys?

The boys explained to me that their parents had told them from an early age that they were born “wrong.” I was shocked and taken aback that parents would say that to their children. As I listened, I realized that it was more about money and security than it was a simple deception.  In this culture it is socially acceptable, even celebrated, to be a “lady-boy” and in most cases, could result in larger paychecks than average workers would make.  I’m not very good at holding my tongue in interesting situations, so my mouth took over as I explained that they didn’t have to continue with this misconception of living.  They were not created wrong, or broken, but made perfect just the way they entered this world.

The boys left me there in the large auditorium feeling discouraged.  I don’t know if they actually heard me or listened to what I had to say, but I left them with a challenge.  I asked them to come to the next night’s show, but to not wear any female clothes, or makeup.  My only feeling was doubt as I left to our accommodation that night.

The next night’s show came, and I had almost forgotten about the young boys from the night before, when my fellow performer came up to me as we were cleaning up.  He told me that he noticed two of the boys I had spoken to last night in the audience.  I immediately went to where he had said they would be.  I found them, wearing basketball shorts, and tee-shirts, no makeup!  I was so blown away and encouraged by this.  I spoke to them for a good while, finding out they didn’t want to live as girls, but found it hard to go against social pressure. I spoke encouraging words over the boys, telling them not to give up, but continue to push for what they new was right; they were boys!

This encounter taught me that we have the power to influence people, whether it be for the better or worse. 

This encounter taught me that we have the power to influence people, whether it be for the better or worse.  All I know is that I want to make a difference in positive ways in other’s lives.  Speaking truth has the power to break down social acceptance or tolerance when it comes to influencing in a negative way.  How are you influencing people around you?