Saturday, April 11, 2015

In Which I Backpedal from Saying "All We Need is Love"

We argue about religion and race and gender orientation, often acting as if intolerance is a virtue, forgetting or not realizing how many of our grandparents or great-grandparents got along with their neighbors who weren't always just the same as they were.

We read about people who have been exonerated so many years later from crimes they didn't commit, and still, we exercise capital punishment in many states, and wish death, and sometimes hell, on suspects who haven't even been tried yet, except by the press and public opinion.

It becomes harder and harder for informed parents to have a voice in their children's medical care, or for teachers to teach from the heart.

We dehumanize people by labeling them, talking as if we can put everyone into groups, and therefore know how they think. And forget how they feel.

I believe we can turn the dehumanization around, although I don't know when, maybe by the end of our time on earth. I believe we need to look at each person as an individual.

Maybe you don't agree with some of the views I've implied here, but if you're still reading, I'm hoping that means you respect me, anyway. And I think that's the key to this mess we've gotten ourselves into. I believe we as a society can learn to respect each person as an individual, instead of viewing someone as part of a "group".

I speak of "love" a lot, but that word can be twisted. I remember someone once preaching, "True love is telling someone when they are wrong." Although there might be specific situations where that is true, it's certainly very far from a universal truth. What if I'm the one who is wrong? Or what if they believe in their heart they are right? Will my telling them something change that? I was always taught that only God can judge the heart. 

I still believe in love, but I believe we are badly in need of respect. Respect for life. Respect for parents. Respect for children. Respect for the rights of individuals who have had different life experiences from our own, respect for the rights of individuals who were - each and every one - born with free will. 

Most of all, I believe we all need to stop and think - yes, I'm definitely including myself, all of us - I believe we need to stop and think, day by day, conversation by conversation, stop and exercise respect for the rights of individuals to be viewed, and respected, as individuals.  And that's a tall order. Really, it is. We will need to work together. I'm going to try. Will you join me?