A Call for an End to Abuse of Anyone for Who They Are

There’s a lot of talk about bullying these days, and thankfully, a lot more concern than there once was. To go along with the bullying is a fair amount of bigotry, and just plain meanness. There is a lot more push back against this sort of behavior in recent years, but more must be done.

We will never be a truly free country until every single person is treated with the respect and dignity due them as human beings. We are who we are; we should all be left alone to live our own lives. No one should be subjected to negative treatment because of any singular aspect of who he or she is. Who a person is sexually attracted to is not the totality of who they are, and that aspect of anyone’s life is simply no one else’s business.

Why are so many people hell-bent on passing judgment on others, based on arbitrary superfluous criteria about which we know nothing, and which is none of our business? Why do they think their personal judgment is important enough to deny others a basic right to live their own lives in whatever way they see fit? Why do they still think it’s okay to treat anyone seen as “different” with anything short of dignity and respect?

Of course, we all know why this is the case. It’s the neocon influence; it’s stronger than it should be; it’s the main reason the United States went from world icon to world pariah between 2001 and 2009. You’ve heard the shtick; we are all individuals, and each of us is responsible only for just ourselves, and screw everyone else. That  is just insane.

The fact is, all of us need each other. We are all part of society, and every one of us has a small part in making it work. The single mother in the poorest section of the city has just as much worth to society as Bill Gates. The child she is raising might grow up to be president or to cure cancer. Of course, there’s also nothing wrong with the possibility that the child may grow up and wash cars or work on a garbage truck; those are also necessary professions, as well.  We shouldn’t value lawyers and doctors more than factory workers,  landscapers or construction workers, because they’re both necessary to a functioning society.  What if the factory worker makes the MRI machine the doctor uses? And how well would he use that machine without electricity, or a building? Nearly everyone has a place in society, regardless of how invisible they seem to be at times.

While the current incarnation of the GOP has taken the concept of “self-centered” to new heights these days, almost everyone has had a hand in building this country into what it is — or at least what it was before Republicans tried to tear it apart. While modern day Republicans think of the United States as a huge corporation, as usual, they’re wrong. We’re more like a family, and they’re the blowhard uncles. Think about it. When something tragic happens in this country, you feel it viscerally, as if it was happening to a family member. It’s also the case when something really good happens. When the first black president was inaugurated in 2009, the pride was palpable. At least, it was for most people.

The thing is, some in our family are hurting, and hurting badly; they are being made to feel like outcasts; like they don’t belong. If they decide to stay true to themselves, and be who they are, others will deny them the opportunity to follow their dreams and to make their contribution to the American experience. And it’s just plain wrong. No one should be made to feel that way. That’s bullying, and there should be no place for that in our society. Unless you are deemed dangerous by a medical profession, you should be able to live your life as you see fit, up to the point that it starts infringing the rights of others. (And no, you do not have a right to not see anything “icky.”) If we all believe that rights are assumed (and supposedly, we do), then you are entitled to them all the time; whether you deserve them should not be based on the whim of a group of people who simply disapprove of something you do or who you are.

The dividing line between having the right to do something and not should always be based on the safety and security of the people, not based on their personal sensibilities. If it were up to me, drunk redneck right wingers would all be locked up because I don’t like them. But would that be fair? I don’t think so, and neither should you.

And yet, we are at the mercy of a relatively small group of Americans who think denying people the right to be who they are, whether that’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or any other subset of humanity they choose to denigrate. People are sitting by as these people are pounded mercilessly for being themselves. We are watching these people tell us that everyone is made by God, but that God is making a lot of mistakes, and they shouldn’t have to deal with them.  And as “Godly” as they claim to be, they badger and harass these people, and they take great pride in their efforts. LGBT teens are committing suicide in part because of how others see them, and the people who bully them to that point should be ashamed of themselves.

When do we grow up, folks? We should be ashamed that a country that brags of being “the land of the free and the home of the brave” needs hate crimes legislation, but we do. People are being bullied, harassed and assaulted by people because some gomer has decided the target “looks gay.” How is that person not extra dangerous? There is a huge difference between someone who beats up or kills someone because of something they did, and someone who does so because of the way a person looks.

It’s time we all embraced each other. We all need to accept reality, including the cracker/redneck/ignoramus population that makes up the Republican “base.” Black and brown people are here and they’re sticking around;. Strong women are here and they’re sticking around. Undocumented immigrants are here and they’re sticking around. And make no mistake; LGBT individuals are here and they’re sticking around. And I have more news for you; we have their backs, so the more you keep up your harassing ways, the worse it will be for you.

And please stop claiming the Bible supports your bigotry, because it doesn’t. If you claim to be Christian, and you think homosexuality, great, then don’t have sex with a member of the same sex.  But you should also know, Christ demanded that you hate the sin and love the sinner, so you have to love the homosexual, and treat him or her with the same dignity as everyone else, regardless of what s/he does behind closed doors with a consensual adult.

It’s like every other sin. if you think smoking is a sin, don’t smoke. If you think drinking alcohol is a sin, don’t drink. If you think homosexual sex is wrong, than don’t do it. You have no right to tell others what to do. And frankly, if you’re telling anyone that what you THINK these people do in the privacy of their own home  makes them less than you as a human being, well, you’d better speak to your clergy like right now, because you’ve just committed more sins than any homosexual couple is.

If you are a parent, and you’re claiming that any other child is lesser for any reason, and doing so in front of your child, you are doing your child a disservice. Your child will remember what you said, even when he or she figures out s/he is gay, and that will make it all the more difficult for them to be who they are.

I understand that bullying is a generational thing, but this generation has to be the one to stop it cold. It’s not okay, period. There is way too much acceptance of “boys will be boys” (and girls are sometimes even worse), and we have to work harder to teach civility. I spent parts of my childhood on both sides of the bullying trend, although I didn’t realize until I was much older that I actually engaged in bullying behavior myself. It was such a part of the culture that I didn’t even recognize it.  It wasn’t acceptable when I did it, and it’s not acceptable now, regardless of the reason. I can’t go back and re-do the past, but I have taught my now-24-year-old son to accept and have compassion for everyone, and it seems to have stuck. There should be zero tolerance for bullying, especially when it comes to kids, and especially when the bullying is based on who someone is. Children should be discouraged from developing cliques that are exclusionary of other people. No one is better than anyone else. Kids should understand that once school is over and everyone graduates, everyone is on the same level on the playing field, or at least should be.

No one in our society should feel like an outcast unless they commit a serious crime against others and have to spend some time behind bars. It doesn’t matter if they’re short or tall or thin or fat. It shouldn’t matter if they’re blonde, brunette, redhead or they dye their hair pink or blue;  brown, black, yellow, white or any mixture. It shouldn’t matter of they are able-bodied or disabled. It shouldn’t make a difference if they have a vagina or a penis or one of each. It shouldn’t matter if they’re or whether they are gay, straight, bisexual, trans or just confused. Everyone is part of the human race, and deserve dignity.

The things we say and do to or about others matters, folks. If you wouldn’t like hearing it yourself, don’t say it to someone else. If you wouldn’t like something done to you, don’t do it to someone else. Think before you speak and do things to other people. Remember; just because you’re entitled to your opinion doesn’t mean the rest of us are going to listen to it without responding. Choose your words and actions carefully, and strive to bring peace wherever you are.

Peace makes life less stressful.

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One comment

  1. This is a powerful statement, Milt, thank you.

    I would assert that the Bible is not a great guide to specific acts. It advises all kinds of tribal justice in the Old Testament that we don’t adhere to now. Stoning or avoiding people with Hansen’s Disease (leprosy), slavery, selling daughters into bondage. But the POINT of the entire book is evolution from tribalism to universal inclusion. I, for one, think it doesn’t say “hate the sin, love the sinner” because by the New Testament the very issue of ‘sin’ itself had changed. Following the maturation of Jesus moved us from narrow legalisms to full inclusion of all people. The absence of judgment against people is powerful. The ONLY ‘sin’ Jesus directs is not remotely about sex but about LOYALTY. The woman saved from stoning is told, “Go and sin no more”. The sin was disloyalty not sex. Nothing Jesus taught that needed to be rejected had a thing to do with honorable fidelity. It was entirely about laying down your wealth for the betterment of others. Period. In Acts those who tried to protect their wealth came in harm’s way – they lied, they hoarded, they cheated. Nowhere do people engaged in loving relationships come under assault. It is this teaching that is the most overlooked. The religious right is NOT Christian at all – it is grounded in “Old Testamentarianism” that comforts their desire to be “the chosen” and to punish those whom they dislike. They have no use for the very universality you’re discussing, the fundamental good of the New Testament. THAT is the sorrow and the pity of todays’ faux Christians: they really care nothing for the very man and his teachings they claim they revere. They are very big into ‘smiting’. They are very short on universal respect.

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