I am writing this particular piece because my heart aches. Current news and issues directly reflect my personal life struggle and “I’m tired of being tired”. I have struggled with my family, friends, associates, and co-workers my entire adult life to have them respect me. I think most people believe that they respect most others, but the actions that result from their thoughts speak differently. For example, Marriage equality was recently passed by the Supreme Court in the United States. In discussing the topic with some of my friends, they say that they respect the LGBT community. However they refute that, as humans that act, think, and believe differently than they do, those of the LGBT community should have equal rights as they do. The refusal to acknowledge another human’s choice to live as they so choose is textbook disrespect, and disregard for their ability to make their own decisions.
The same is true for my personal life. I am infamously known to be easily offended and short tempered, however, the more I experience life, the more I understand myself differently. I think most people perceive me to be short tempered and easily offended because they themselves, fail to understand the implications of their actions and inquires in or into my life. The best example that I can give of this are the questions and comments that I have received in identifying as non-monogamous. I have had close friends, and family to say to me to my face “Oh you are just going through a phase”. This implies that the person stating this believes that I lack the maturity to make a sound decision about my beliefs on my own. Basically, calling me immature. Not ill informed, but ill equipped. That shit hurts. That cuts deep down to the bone, especially when coming from someone you love and trust.
In either scenario there is no appreciation for diversity there. There is no consideration for the value of a differing opinion. There is only disrespect. And I am expected to respond positively to this type of thing. I am expected to receive the information as if it were the gospel, as if I am standing in “sin” waiting on redemption. However, because I understand the implications all too well, even if the message sender does not, I rarely respond positively, if I do respond at all. It is even more rare that I am apologetic for my response. It’s a continuous cycle of hurt because I am only human. There is only so much disrespect that I can stand. That constant disrespect breads resentment. That resentment turns into hurt. That hurt is especially powerful when it is a constant or reoccurring thing, as it is for me. Seldomly do I come across someone that can disagree with me, my lifestyle, and opinions without being disrespectful. However, when I do, I hold onto these people dearly. My appreciation for these people in my life grows with everyday that I live on this earth.
In 1968 the “Beatles” released a song called ” All you need is love”, but today in 2015 I believe all we need is respect. Respect, as defined by Google, is a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. We are missing an admiration for diversity. We fail to recognize the ability to choose in those that believe and think differently than we do. We do so because, recognizing that ability to choose differently is acknowledging that there is indeed a choice to be made. And in recognizing that there is a choice to be made, then there is an acknowledgment and validation of either choice.
We hate alternative lifestyles, opinions, and beliefs, instead of being intrigued. We demonize those that aren’t the exact same as we are. We devalue those that can’t identify with our particular experience. We do it collectively, constantly, and consistently. It is the very thing that hurts us the most.
It hurts. It hurts so much. And it is hurting us collectively; whether we recognize it or not. Respect, simple and plain, could fix every societal ailment that we are currently suffering from.
For if we fail to appreciate our differences, than we are indeed doomed to destroy. -Unknown