Re-blogged from the Jack’s Winning Words blog –
“To like an individual because he’s black is just as insulting as to dislike him because he isn’t white.” (e.e. cummings) Reverse black and white in the quote. Does it make a difference? Substitute LGBT and Straight for black and white. Does it make a difference? Many of the problems around us these days seem to have root in the fact that we do not see people as people. You can’t legislate love. Unless it comes from the heart, the problems will continue. 😉 Jack
I suspect that Leonardo da Vinci put his finger on a big part of the problem that Jack wrote about today when he said – “You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand.” Too much of the bigotry in the world today is based in ignorance; ignorance about the backgrounds and perspectives of the people against whom the bigotry is directed. It’s impossible for a white person to understand the impact of the repressive environment that many non-white people feel and experience day-to-day in America. What chance do you have to establish an understanding and appreciation for someone else, if you start from a base of fear because of their color?
There was a political cartoon in the paper this weekend that captured some of that. It showed a young black person backed up against a wall by a heavily armed white policeman and an average citizen looking out their window at the policeman. Each had a thought bubble above their head with the work “fear” in it. While that cartoon was within the context of recent police shootings; it clearly demonstrates the pre-existing mental context that colors the interactions of many people with each other. That is a pre-existing prejudice that gets things off on the wrong foot. Chris Crutcher, author of Whale Talk, put it well – “…racist (bigoted) thought and action says far more about the person they come from than the person they are directed at.”
Something similar may be said about our notions of the LGBT community. Many censure those in the LBGT community because they do not understand it. Armistead Maupin put it well when he said – “I know I can’t tell you what it’s like to be gay. But I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not hiding behind words, like family and decency and Christianity.” Having just gone through an election where every homophobic bigot on the ballot chose to hide behind those words, Maupin’s words ring true.
So, one may surmise that bigotry is based upon ignorance; but its real strength is based in
preventing the exploration of knowledge about the topic, thereby shutting out the discovery of the truth. Like many other things in life that we fear, because they represent unknowns; fears based upon color or lifestyle evaporate once we know and understand the truth. As E.H.Chapin put it – “Bigotry dwarfs the soul by shutting out the truth.”
Don’t let yourself become a dwarf. Don’t know…don’t say. Go seek the truth.