Sooooo, it seems we’re standing at the precipice of another civil war and our nation is growing restless. The concepts of good and bad or right and wrong have been commandeered and defined by individuals. With the ownership of ideals, there is an assumed responsibility to defend them until people see the light, their light. Though noble in thought, it stands hypocritical in action.
As I was starting this post I was trying to think of an instance in my adult life where I’d had a lasting shift in beliefs or behaviors via coercion rather than experience. Nothing sprung to mind. As a child I was told many things that have shaped my moral scope. My family was big into the church so there was a lot of “do unto others/love thy neighbor” kind of rhetoric in my upbringing. I grew up in an extremely diverse middle class suburb in Chapel Hill, NC. I played with black, white, Native American, and Asian kids every day. Whichever house we happened to be playing closest to at lunch time, that was the house we ate at. No parent turned any kids away. Each of us had been ousted at one time or another but it was based on behaviors, never on color, culture, or religion. Being ostracized never lasted long because we all shared a common social area so it taught us to deal with differences in personalities...it taught us tolerance.
As an adult, the common social area is the world. As specific as the church’s or bars we attend to places as general as the streets we walk on, “this land is your land, this land is my land.” Everyone didn’t grow up in a neighborhood like mine, this is an undeniable truth. I can’t have the expectation of people to have the same perspective I do. Where I could believe they should is semi-reasonable. Having many others that share my beliefs certainly validates my feelings. It allows people to be who they feel they are, believe in whatever God they choose, and pretty much do whatever makes them happy as long as they do no harm. Why shouldn’t everyone feel just like me? My way is the right way.
Somewhere else, some 37 year old white guy is sitting on his porch, at his laptop, smoking, and listening to music writing a piece about how he was told “Don’t hang out with those black kids because they’re nothing but trouble. Those gays are an abomination to the purity of Christianity and destroying the sanctity of marriage.” He saw the frustration on his parents at the under-appreciation of his kind by all other nationalities when they’re being allowed to be here...things like that. It’s not his fault.
Fact: There is not a single original, racist, sexist, bigot, or fascist alive today.
These ideals are adopted well before he has the opportunity to know anything different. His values were in place well before his parents parents parents even met one another. He had zero part in his upbringing. No different than my own upbringing being shaped by the people who shaped the people who shaped me.
What I’ve seen bring about enlightenment and transformation was a collision of a curiosity about the other side and an unforced, authentic, positive experience. There is no right, wrong, good, or bad side here; everyone has their own truth.
As the displays of senseless hatred grow more public, my heart brims with sadness and sympathy. Those people have no clue how much joy they are missing out on being closed off to the variety amazing all of society has to offer.
As we stand, together against all forms of hatred, let us not take a stance of hatred towards those that hate us. Those poor souls have not been given the tools of acceptance we have been privy to experience and adapt to. I earnestly beseech every like-minded person to stand strong in your beliefs of equality for all, just not from a platform of self-righteous indignation. I believe we have to be the unwavering beacon of tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion that needs to be seen by all. If/when that curiosity arises in them, we are the lighthouse standing tall and bright, readily welcoming them to our world of infinite experiences, possibilities, and growth.
At the end of the day: If we hate them like they hate us, we are no better than they are.
Thanks for reading.