Wednesday, June 15, 2016

We are not our labels!

Wow, It's shaping up to be a political month!  I'm not normally one to speak on current events or the like, but I do often find myself sparked by an event to talk about something it brings up in my life.  The recent events at Pulse, and the storm of emotions it has unleashed definitely has lit some sparks in me.

In some ways I'm 'mainstream'.  I don't think my neighbors think I am anything out of the ordinary, nor would you necessarily notice anything different about me if you passed me on the street.  I am whitish (half-Chinese, but I don't think I necessarily read as Oriental), married and don't have an overwhelming amount of tattoos (yet).  I don't run around shouting Pagan blessings at people or ranting at folks for wearing crosses or the like.

And yet, I do wear my pentacle ring every day.  I am pretty open about things that I believe in.  And as a Pagan, it is not outside of the realm of believable that someone might find out about my personal life and decide to come after me in some way.

I think that a lot of people don't spend enough time really thinking about what their beliefs and morals mean.  They listen to whoever is standing on a soap box and sounds most like what they identify with.  And when that person starts sharing disturbing thoughts, they don't stop and really think about what those thoughts mean in the real world, they just jump on board.

I know a lot of lovely people of many faiths.  And some have thrown their support behind people who suggest horrible acts against minorities (whether those are religious, racial or sexual minorities...or any other category of people who "aren't like us").  They often make excuses for their spokespeople, saying that "they don't really mean that" or "that isn't meant to be taken literally".

Sadly, we live in a world where many people do take statements at face value.  If their religious book or idol says that X group should die....well there is always someone out there who will act on that thought.  And it is a very slippery slope from treating people like they aren't equal in small ways (like dictating who can get married) to treating them like they aren't equal in big ways (like who has the right to live).  It seems like a HUGE difference, but in actuality the distance between the two is much smaller than it appears.

Not only that, but this kind of fight escalates very quickly.  Of course, when someone is attacking me I will want to fight back.  And that is a fact that many people completely overlook when thinking about these issues.  Throwing the first blow almost guarantees that there will be a response in kind.  No one should be expected to take this kind of abuse and just roll over and submit.

I think it is very important to be honest about motives as well.  Not every person acts on behalf of some greater group or organization.  And even if they are a fully devoted member of a group, their actions do not necessarily represent the desires of the group as a whole.  People are people, and individuals are never JUST one thing.  I am a Pagan, a woman, an Asian-American, a mother, a daughter, a wife, and a million more things.  I have never acted from purely one is flat out impossible.  Even when my main motivation is one thing, I will be influenced by the other facets of my life.  As a person, I can not be an ideal....I can only be a person.

And I think there is great value in looking at other people that way.  We are all people!  At the end of the day, we are not our race, our gender, our political affiliation, our economic status or any other number of classifications we can be sorted into.  We are a uniquely blended individual, that has bits and pieces from all over.  The more we can start looking at the individual, and seeing the person, instead of seeing the label we have applied to the person, the less likely we are to judge them for things that don't actually apply to them.

Open your eyes, and open your hearts.  Don't let your ideas about what a person might be blind you to the truth of what they are.  We are all so many things, that one label can never fully capture us!  Let yourself really listen and see what other people are saying, instead of thinking that you know how they are may find that they surprise you!

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