The end of Lent kind of snuck up on me. I kept thinking I had more time, more days, because there were more stories I wanted to share with my readers, but this is it. The wrap up of my Lenten Challenge 2016 series.
I’d like to say I will do it again next year, and maybe I will. But admittedly it has been rough going. I’ve had a few people who made nasty comments on Facebook about my posts, which clearly showed they neither read my words nor the articles I shared. And they certainly didn’t honor the idea that the purpose of this exercise was to learn from the viewpoints of another, rather than debate their own opinions.
And really, those are the people who truly need these posts. Not that I expect them to agree with every word, but rather when your heart is calcified by the vitriol of a certain kind of viewpoint, I think it is beneficial to step back, listen, learn, try to understand the people you are vilifying so vehemently. But that doesn’t happen. They just go right on hating what they don’t know.
It really is disheartening to see so much hate and prejudice in the world. And these are often “good” people. They go to church, believe in charity, consider themselves Christians. But then they pass heinous laws, or block LGBT non-discrimination policies in North Carolina, or they call for all Muslims to be banned from the USA, or vote for a candidate that uses hate and fear mongering to further his efforts. I hear things like, “With Gay Pride and Black History month, I feel lost in the shuffle. Why can’t I celebrate being white?” Or “That’s reverse discrimination.” Or “I grew up poor. Don’t talk to me about white privilege.” Or “Black lives matter? I think all lives matter.” All of which skirt the issues and ignore the pain that comes with discrimination in its many forms.
So what’s the cure for this disease? Because I really think it is. It’s a disease of the mind and the heart that spreads through well-meaning people who just don’t understand what it’s like to be “other,” because they’re not other. They are straight, white, cis-gender, Christians in a world that treats them as “normal” or the status quo. Which means if they (and me) are normal, then everyone else is “different.”
And that’s what I’d like to change. Stop thinking of yourself as the main character in everything. Start thinking of yourself as another piece of the immense puzzle that makes up this world. And in order to understand how your puzzle piece fits into the next one, you have to step away from your comfort zone and learn about someone else.
It’s simple really, though it will take time. And Google is there to help you along. Just type in “Growing up _______ in America.” Fill in that blank with whatever seems other to you: black, poor, LGBT, trans, Muslim, mentally ill, disabled, autistic, etc., etc. The list could go on forever. And don’t just read one first hand story. Read several, because every Muslim has a different story. They are not universal. Every person of the LGBT community has a different story. They are not universal. Do this everyday until maybe, just maybe, people stop seeming other to you, and just seem like people.