The human body has three primary layers of skin. Beneath the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, that provides a waterproof barrier and creates our skin color, we’re basically the same. So, I believe as human beings who’ve been to the moon, cured diseases, shot a telescope into outer space, we are perfectly capable of collectively moving ourselves forward on the emotional evolutionary scale by honestly admitting we do not have a race, homophobia, or gender relations problem. We own up to the fact we have a respect problem.
We do not respect one another’s differences. We do not respect one another’s sameness. We do not have compassion for one another’s challenges. We do not listen to one another to understand each other. We do learn about other cultures and religions, about the biological causes of sexual orientation and gender dysphoria, so we can better relate to one another in intelligent and informed ways. We do not learn about the endless things that make us, other people, and the world tick. We do not press pass the boundaries of our comfort zone.
We are not critically looking at the limiting, judgmental beliefs we were taught about one another that we are choosing to perpetuate. We are not assuming responsibility for the different choices we can now make as adults to create the world we say we want.
We’re talking a good game about our faith and religious beliefs while judging one another in the name of God and looking for someone else to lead the way to peace on earth. But, leading the way, to be responsible for our choices, is exactly what walking a spiritual path or following a religious faith is all about. If we are truly a world of believers in a power greater than ourselves, the time has come for us to walk our talk and choose to treat other people as we want to be treated.
I am white but I did not choose my color. You may be black or brown but you did not choose your color. I am gay but I did not choose my sexual orientation. Most likely you are straight but you did not choose your sexual orientation either.
I was born in the U.S. to an unwed teenage mother but I did not choose my mother or my birth country. You may have been born in a different country but you did not choose your birth country either. I was adopted. Maybe you were too.
I was raised Christian. You may have been raised Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or Atheist. Growing up I had friends from different ethnic groups. Maybe you were raised to accept others too. I was encouraged to learn and to ask questions about the world. You may have been taught to be inquisitive too. Getting a good formal education, exposing myself to difference to find sameness was encouraged in my home. Possibly these were encourage in your home too.
As children we do not come out of the womb knowing how to navigate in the world, to gather facts before making decisions, and to weigh the consequences of our actions. We are not born with the values that shape us into respectful, responsible, and contributing members of our family and social units. We must learn what to value and how to behave so we get along as a human family, how to care for, nurture and preserve all life, and how to help one another on this journey called life.
Everyone on the planet desires to have belongingness, status, recognition, and personal power. If we grow up without a sense of belongingness or without feeling support and acceptance, we seek groups with whom to associate where we do get support and acceptance. If we do not feel we have status and recognition among our peers we seek to find those elsewhere. If we do not have the power to make our own decisions to be an active participant in the direction of our life we seek to find power by other means.
Children do not enter the world as harbingers of hate, prejudice and ignorance. When a child lacks healthy exposure to a variety of people and experiences, to an education which excites the imagination, to a family unit and friends where he feels like an important part, to values that result in positive behavior, he will look for somewhere to belong. Without the skill of discernment any port becomes a refuge from the storm of an abused, uninteresting, tough, and neglected life. Children are sponges soaking up what is around them. They either absorb love, acceptance, and a sense of belongingness or they feel abandoned, unworthy, and unimportant.
If we do not grow up being exposed to the vast wonders of the world and to the beautiful tapestry of our different human being’s colors, beliefs, cultures, and customs we only trust what we’ve been allowed to see. If we do not grow up encouraged to associate with people of other religions, other races, other socio-economic groups, as adults we tend to associate with those people who look like us, believe what we believe, and interact with those who have the same standard of living we do.
We must be taught to value others, to have compassion, to be respectful, helpful, and kind. We cannot find sameness in our differences if we’re being taught to judge, to elevate ourselves above others, to fear difference, to disrespect who other people are, and to devalue what they care for.
White people who hate and judge are ignorant. They are run by a fear-based, narrow minded, and victimized view of the world. Black and brown people who hate are no different.
Regardless of skin color people who chose to participate in animosity and divisiveness are ignorant. Their ignorance is a result of refusing to open their eyes and hearts to anything other than their narrow and biased point of view. Those with a closed heart and judging minds will always be part of the problem while deluding themselves into thinking they are being the solution. The solution they see is one-sided, based upon what they were taught to believe. But, narrow-minded prevents a big picture view.
All of this is to say prejudice, hate, homophobia, xenophobia are learned behaviors. People are taught how to behave and what to believe. Those who are disrespectful will never win the respect they so desperately seek. Respect, like trust, is earned. And being respected is not the same as being feared or liked.
To move our collective emotional evolution forward, to have our heart be an equal partner with our technological growth, we must teach ourselves and our children to love. I know this sounds like a spiritual guru’s pat answer. But only because it is the right answer; one enlightened teachers have been sharing with the world for millennia. But now, to walk the talk, we must listen.
Hate and prejudice will only be solved by elevating the emotional consciousness of the planet. So yes, this is a spiritual responsibility but one that has been supported by all the emotionally conscious heroes among us. Albert Einstein wisely said, “Problems cannot be solved with the same level of awareness that created them.”
That means discernment is different than suspicion. Self-protection is different than instigating violence. And increasing exposure to the best of what different cultures, genders, ages, and races has to offer is setting children up for an open-minded and open-hearted attitude about those who are different.
Along with instruction on how to protect themselves, how to stand up for what’s right, we need to give children tools to do so in a peaceful and productive manner. We must show them how to deal with anger in constructive ways and how to turn off hate-filled propaganda. We can only teach what we know and practice.
We are human beings who must learn to live together as one big, often dysfunctional, but always respectful and non-violent family. Devoted to the heart-evolving path of finding sameness in our difference.