We need to give others the freedom to be as they are without feeling as if it takes away from our lives or beliefs. We don’t have to change our life to allow someone to live theirs as they see fit. We don’t. What we have to do is make
sure how we live our lives is not hurting, negating, or denying anyone
the same freedom we expect for ourselves.
Turning a blind eye to things going on around me has never been something I’ve been good at. I also lack the ability to justify or gloss over the state of humanity these days to make myself feel better or less overwhelmed with the darkness that seems to permeate everything. I know there is good out there, I do, but its quiet nature is completely overshadowed by the loud, in-your-face nature of the darkness. What used to be delegated to the shadows has been brought out to the forefront and celebrated as the new norm.
Part of me thinks that bringing the dark nature of humanity out to the light, while incredibly painful to witness and experience, must happen if we have any hope of making things better. We can’t fight what we can’t see. Leaving it in the shadows also gives everyday people plausible deniability – how are they supposed to know how bad things are if they never have to see it or experience it. It doesn’t exist if they never have to face it and we all know they won’t willingly wander into the shadows to see what’s going on. It’s scary in there, and the energy is dark, they could get hurt. So, if the underbelly of humanity stays in the shadows, there is nothing for them to worry about. If the tentacles that reach out occasionally from the shadows to harm, spread hatred, or cause some horrific event, never touch their lives directly – it will remain someone else’s problem.
Except now, because of a series of events, the shadows have pulled back, and all of us are faced with the darkness of humanity whether we want to be or not.
It has always been there. Some of us have danced with the darkness more times than we can count; it’s not a new thing. Hatred, injustice, racism, sexism, evil – has always been part of life. Some see it on the news, some experience it first-hand. For some, that darkness is their way of life.
The new normal that has evolved the past few years gives free rein to people’s biases, hatred, and violence against others they feel deserve it. It’s astounding to me. The righteousness people feel when degrading, hurting, devaluing, or completely eviscerating another human being based on the color of their skin, gender, social status, or whatever it is that makes them “different” is sickening.
I was in a situation the other day with a group of people who consider themselves “woke” – I listened to the conversations flowing around me, each person trying to prove how evolved they were, how angry they were at the state of the world. How much better they were than others because they saw the injustices, and they were angry, too. How much they recycled, how much they donated to causes, how much they filled their lives with people who were “different.”
One woman was louder than the rest at proclaiming how “woke” she was. She spoke about being color blind and not seeing skin color or the race of someone but just seeing them as human. She proclaimed she was the least judgmental of anyone she knew and declared how angry she’s been at the injustices she has seen on the news. She’s marched, donated, and just “loves” everyone regardless of everything that makes them different. When she proudly stated she has black friends and that her dog groomer was gay, I couldn’t help myself, and a disgusted sigh escaped my lips.
Everyone looked at me. Some of them actually know me and smirked because they had been waiting for me to open my mouth. Many of them though, didn’t know me at all and for a group of “woke” non-judgey people, they were silently judging my sigh as clear as day.
To me, while I know some of the people sitting there really are good people, the ones who feel the need to proclaim and quantify their “good” move us no closer to a better world.
I sat there for a minute, looking at them. In my mind seeing biases that a few of them didn’t even realize they had. Doesn’t make them bad people, it doesn’t. It just makes them a lot less evolved and “woke” than they seem to realize.
I said, “For starters, I hate the term “woke” – I am not “woke” and will never consider myself as “woke,” so there’s that. I am not color blind, either. I see color. I see race. To not see it, in my opinion, is to deny it exists. I will never deny that. If someone is Asian, I see that. If they are Black, I see that. If they are Native American, I see that. If they are White, I see that, too. I see it because it is a part of them; it is who they are. Just like when I look into the mirror, I see a white woman. It’s a part of me. Why would I deny that to anyone else? Are they different, from me, yes, but so aren’t all of you in some way. I am also an incredibly judgmental person. I judge people all the damn time. I judge people on how they treat others. I judge them on how they treat me. I judge them based on how I wish the world operated. If someone hurts a woman, because they see her as less than because of her gender – I judge the hell of their character. If someone takes advantage of an elderly person, I am going to judge them. If they use their religion as permission to deny freedoms to people who love differently than they feel is acceptable, yeah, I am going to judge them, too.”
I have white friends, brown friends, black friends, gay friends, trans friends, old friends, young friends, bitchy friends, angry friends, broke friends, wealthy friends, driven friends, lazy friends, religious friends, witch friends, atheist friends, scientist friends, new-agey friends, male friends, female friends, and friends that are neither. Having these friends doesn’t make me any better than anyone else. It does make my life much richer, blessed, and constantly evolving as each person I bring into my life shows me different facets to life that I may have never had the privilege of seeing or knowing. People teach me every day about a variation of humanness I never knew, and I am so grateful. Sometimes, what they show me challenges me to release old ideas on how the world has always looked because they bring something I had never had to consider before.
Just because a piece of humanity is not something I have ever had to think about or embrace – doesn’t mean it lacks value. It just means my consciousness of humans needs to evolve even more.
I found myself in another social situation where a person was stating their point of view on a wide variety of topics, and with every word that came out of their mouth, I cringed. Which I am pretty sure was his intent to begin with. He tried to make it political, calling me a “liberal” and a “snowflake,” stating he didn’t give a damn about being politically correct when not in the public eye – he could say as he damn well pleased and if that pissed me off, all the better.
He can say whatever he wants; he can believe whatever he wants, that’s his right, and I said as much. The truths he holds are his to own as long as those truths do not harm anyone or deny them freedoms. He can live his own life however he wants to, as biased, and hate filled as he wishes. It is not my business. However, when those truths and biases are used against people, denying them rights, denying them freedoms – it becomes my business.
We all hate. We do. To deny that is to say we accept every single facet of humanity, and I am not willing to do that. I hate we live in a world where racism exists. I hate pedophilia. I hate human trafficking. I hate that people who love someone of the same sex are denied freedoms I take for granted. I hate rape. I hate abuse of power and corruption. I hate that mass shootings have become the norm. I hate that people who flee some of the most horrific living conditions with their families are locked in cages and treated like animals. I hate animal abuse.
As much as I love, I also hate. I cannot spin positivity in a world that seems destined to self-destruct. I cannot put on rose colored glasses and pretend everything is just fine. Because it’s not, and honestly, it has not been for a long time. It’s just out in the open now more than ever before. Which is good because we can do more about it if more people are forced to see the injustices that have been thriving in the shadows this whole time.
We are being forced to see that systematic racism has never gone away, like many wanted to believe, but those who have been living it all along knew better. We are being forced to see that mental health issues need to come out into the light and talked about, because leaving them in the shadows, and not fostering conversation on ways to help has led to mass shootings, increased suicides, and an overwhelming drug and addiction problem. We are being forced to see what happens when men hold the power over women’s rights, and the harsh truth that our bodies are not our own as long as the people in power can legislate it. We are being forced to see the darkness humanity has tried to hide, the atrocities one human can do to so many others, and we are being forced to see everything that would have been swept under the rug in the past.
It has nothing to do with being “politically correct.” It has everything to do with being human. Being compassionate. Having empathy. Doing what is right for someone else, even if it is not something we fully appreciate or understand. I have no idea what it is like to be Black or Asian or Native American. I have no idea what it is like to worry about my safety if I hold hands with someone I love with all of my heart because we happen to be the same gender. I have no idea how it feels to be Jewish or Muslim in a world that seems bent on erasing their religions and beliefs. I have no idea what it feels like to be born a female but feel deep inside my soul that I am a man.
But just because I don’t know what it feels like, just because it isn’t the path that I am on – do I get license to completely deny these feelings and ways of life exist? Doesn’t matter that I can’t walk in their shoes, doesn’t matter that I cannot fully experience their lives. What matters is that THEY get to experience their lives without fear of harm, lack of opportunities, or denial of freedoms.
I will own the label of snowflake every single day. I am proud of it, honestly. There are no two identical snowflakes, ever. Every single one is different than the thousands surrounding it as they fall from the sky, and while a single snowflake on its own may be fragile, but when joined with others a powerful storm is created. They don’t look exactly the same. They all come from different parts of the sky. But they join together inside of the storm and force the flow of life to screech to a halt. They force us to change our plans, our directions, and after the storm rages the entire landscape has changed.
That is what happens when a bunch of snowflakes get together. Life changes. The landscape changes. All while each individual snowflake remains different, it comes together with others as one, and changes things.
Light will triumph over the darkness eventually. I believe that. But I think things are going to get a whole lot worse beforehand and that scares me. My hope is that more and more people will understand this new norm serves no one but those who benefit from the unrest. Those hungry for power. Those who see profitability in dividing all of us.
Like those snowflakes, the more we come together within our uniqueness letting everyone be as they are, the more we can change the narrative. The more we stop seeing our differences as something that needs to be erased to make us all the same, the better off we will be. How boring life would be if we all thought the same, worship the same, looked the same, loved the same. We need to give others the freedom to be as they are without feeling as if it takes away from our lives or beliefs. We don’t have to change our life to allow someone to live theirs as they see fit. We don’t. What we have to do is make sure how we live our lives is not hurting, negating, or denying anyone the same freedom we expect for ourselves.
We owe it to ourselves, and to the whole of humanity, to be better humans.
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