Saturday, February 4, 2012
I don't consider myself to be a very political person. I generally avoid the news, except for the odd or interesting headline that pops up on Yahoo when I go to check my email. Even then, I tend to read mostly the funny or educational pieces, and avoid the depressing-sounding ones.
I believe that there is no problem in this universe that the correct application of hot water or chocolate can't fix, and if we could just all the world leaders together over tea and cake and just listen to one another and their people instead of the people funding their campaigns, then we could achieve world peace. Maybe I'm naive. Maybe as a planet we just need to learn to bend a little and focus more on how we can help those around us instead of our own physical comforts.
Despite this childish, head-in-the-sand attitude I tend to have, there are some things in the news that haven't escaped even my notice. Particular quotes from certain presidential candidates, for example. A string of offensive, anti-gay facebook posts by conservatives. Bills nation wide that have passed, been revoked, and voted on again. Families denied benefits. And then there was this article in Rolling Stone. If you choose to click the link, I will warn you, it is a rather long article, but well worth reading through. In summary, it details the events of the past few years in a particular school district in Minnesota. A certain school district that denied it's gay students basic human rights--the right to receive an education unmolested by their peers or teachers.
It began with a policy that condemned gay, lesbian, and transgender lifestyles as "unnatural". When parents protested, it was revoked and replaced with one of "neutrality." Together, these policies allowed dozens--maybe hundreds--of students in the state's largest district to be bullied while the adults stood idly by, more afraid of loosing their jobs than of saving their student's lives. After two years, nine students had committed suicide.
While this is certainly the largest, highest profile case I've seen in the past few years, it is not the only one. These children are not the only ones to be bullied for who they are, and they are not the only ones who have taken their own lives because of it.
I have been bullied. I have been lonely, and I've had times where I didn't know where else to go. These kids were begging for help, and the message they received was that because of who they chose to love, they are not worth protecting. Their lives were not worth living.
I don't care what religion you are. I don't care what your opinion about the whole gay rights issue is. I don't care if you support things like California's Issue 8, or if you just married your partner of twenty years in Vermont. What I am talking about here is Basic. Human. Rights.
The right to employment. The right to an education. The right to be with the people you love. The right to be protected and safe, and to live in an environment free from turmoil.
This isn't about who is right and who is wrong. It's not about allowing gay marriage or determining if it's a choice or a disease. It's about treating people as human beings.
Right here, right now, I say this: all people should be treated with respect, regardless.
To the oppressed: I know. I've been there. Hang tight. There are people out there who will help you, and we are trying to change things.
To the oppressors: I don't care who you think you are, or what right you think you have to treat others like they are less than you, but stop. Just stop. Quit hiding behind your religion and your politics. There is no "but" in the Bible. God loves everyone, full stop.
We need to show the world that the way things are is not okay. I'm not talking about being politically correct, squashing freedom of speech because it might offend someone--I'm talking about respect. That's all it really boils down to. Respect your fellow man/woman/whatever, even if you disagree with them. Even if you don't like them all that much.
I think it's time for another Peace Project. Who's with me?