Increasingly I find that more and more of my friends are not like me. This I think is a good thing. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned to let go of the certainty of my own opinions. More simply – I’ve learned to listen. I could say perhaps that listening leads to understanding… not so. I mean – not listening obviously will benefit you not one bit when it comes to understanding where others are coming from, but to be honest, the more I really listen – the more I realize I have absolutely no idea what other people go through, or as a result, how they feel in response to certain situations and events.
Take the news one morning this week. A tech piece covered Apple I think it was who will be providing an expanded and more inclusive (presumably) range of either Avatars or Emoji’s – or maybe both – I couldn’t tell you the difference. Anyway, Apple apparently is updating something on their devices or such (again – I wouldn’t know – I don’t really own an iAnything) to allow you to use an Emoji that is more like you – various shades of color skin and presumably hair (or even no hair perhaps), no doubt other distinguishing features. Never occurred to me this would be important to some people – why would it – I’m a straight white male, married, two kids, two dogs and a house in the burbs. Well – that and as I said – I don’t have an iAnything…
A little superficial perhaps? How about this then. A friend, more specifically and to use a label (and I’m not big on those), a transgender friend shared something this week that really rocked me. The article he shared was not that surprising, not anymore, which is sad in itself. But it was his introduction to the article from the Huffington Post that really got to me…
“My name could be on this list. One misstep, one person poorly trusted, one really bad day and…”
Stop Letting Trans People Die
This is messed up – I mean living with that shadow always kind of there – trying to get on with life like it isn’t – and yet it is. I have absolutely no idea what that could possibly feel like – and I’m sorry – no amount of listening will get you there – not all the way. This is not abstract to him – it is very real. But listening does do something he pleaded for – it increases my awareness – and perhaps by my sharing this, yours also.
And then last week, there was a similar gut-wrenching story, again – the story itself, sadly – no longer surprising. This sort of inhumanity – this appalling notion that we can treat other humans like they are somehow less than – that they perhaps are some sort of cosmic mistake – to use the title of this post, children of a lesser god.
Call it what you will – but hatred – whether it be based on race or ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, your incapacity to be anything but a homeless person begging to get by, your so called immigrant status, whether that be here in a country we stole much of from those we dare to call illegals – or the inhumane internment and other treatment of refugees in my native Australia - basically hatred of someone for not being like you is NOT ACCEPTABLE. It cannot and should not be tolerated! And I’m not sorry if this offends you – but if that sort of hatred is part of your nature – you better think twice before judging the guys in black outfits performing all sorts of atrocities driven by the same sort of twisted hatred in the Middle East right now – you are in my eyes, not so different to them.
Last weeks story concerned the refusal of a pediatrician to treat a newborn because the parents were a same sex couple. I don’t swear all that much, but really – how F***ed up is that??? And yet, especially in America – not that surprising. I mean – when wearing leggings is questionable moral behavior and certainly a call to judgment should you be the self-righteous and judgmental type – then we should of course be nor surprised to see discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation different to our own…
What got me deep down however was that my friend Kimberly has to deal with this sort of fear in a lot of day to day situations. Not surprisingly, one of the most agonizing being the question of whether her being transparent and open about her own sexual orientation could result in denial of care to her children in a moment of need. That fear that I could not help my children – now that I can relate to – but not because I might tell a doctor for example, I was a follower of Jesus. Get me lost somewhere in Syria and maybe that would be a problem – maybe – no screw maybe – probably for sure I would then like Kimberly deal with some amount of self-loathing for denying who I am to protect the welfare and wellbeing of my children - even if my denial was only to the extent I was not fully open and fully honest – you know – just hiding it a little. But that situation is so far from any reality I can imagine – I just can’t fully comprehend how that must feel for so many people I know. And again – before last week – the fear of such discrimination – not the discrimination itself, was something I would never have even imagined, much less comprehended.
The article Kimberly shared was from a local Fox station.Doctor refuses treatment of same-sex couple's baby
This is not some apology or epiphany on white male privilege. Far from it – it is someone with that privilege saying this is not OK. I don’t really know what it feels like for my friend who is transgender, or my many friends who are gay, or any other number of friends who fall into categories subject to hatred and discrimination. But I can continue to listen to their stories – and I can say as I stand with them - this is NOT OK.
"To the Lakota, to the Indian, when you listen, you're praying. That's a form of prayer, when you listen."- Russell Means