In a world where everyone is striving to be politically correct, where the abnormal is now viewed as normal and normal is viewed as abnormal; in a world where having morals can make one a social pariah, or being from another culture may make you an outsider, how does any youth learn moral good and/or break away from the pressures? Not just those pressures from peers, but the very covert ones, (and sometimes overt pressures) that come from “well-meaning adults”. It is no longer simple for any individual to mention the name of any god, proclaim his/her beliefs, or simply mention their point of view about the very natural aspects of the human family life, without that poor individual being labelled as an uncaring, intolerant, or fanatical, moralistic human. It is not always safe anymore to proudly proclaim your homeland or heritage. Though, the question should be, ” Was there ever a time when these aspects of life co-habited lovingly? Will there ever be such a time?” Let me slow down, it seems I’m getting ahead of myself.
It was just a few days ago that I ran across an article that forced me to stop and think. A 17 year old student had painted a mural showing the progression,the growth of a male, from babe to adulthood. Her perspective of the traditional male’s life included the male maturing into a centered individual with a wife and child. Does that sound very controversial to you? Well apparently to some, it was. This young lady, Liz Bierenday, was sharing her perspective of the traditional family, unfortunately its meaning was misconstrued. There were some who saw it as an offence to the LGBT community. A community that was once a minority, is now just as strongly in the forefront as the heterosexual community. With this increased presence, the world seems to be moving from one extreme to the other. Maddeningly searching for any little detail that can be seen as offensive because they fear that the rights of these individuals will once again be trampled upon. In their zeal for impartiality, tolerance, and understanding, they are quickly forcing the once traditional aspects of society to quiver in fear. How you ask? By becoming the very forces they are trying to correct, hypocritical, intolerant, biased individuals. Unfortunately, this is not the only area of life in which over-zealous, well-meaning individuals are doing more harm than good. Even religion is quickly becoming taboo.
If one even slips out with a warm “Salaam alaikum“, “Namaste“, “May God be with you”, or “Shalom“, eyes glance accusingly in the direction of that daring religious fanatic. How dare that individual mention the name of any god? Can you believe that news anchor just used religious phrasing? Can’t he/she see that I am an atheist? Doesn’t that idiot know that I’m an agnostic? The “universe” forbid that any god’s name be mentioned in the public forum, after all, this must mean that the Crusades are returning, or that Islamic extremists are once more planning a historic attack against some unsuspecting nation.
Unfortunately, this is now a regular occurrence in most societies that we interact with. Suspicion is strong against anyone who is a little too vocal about any opinion, persons who barely understand the culture of various nations proclaim themselves experts of their every move. No one has the right to belittle an individual for being different, or for willingly accepting that they are part of a particular religion. As a Christian, independent-minded individual, I expect that my rights to believe in God and talk about him are respected just as well as my bestfriend’s right to be an agnostic and ignore my ramblings. As a heterosexual, I would hope that my children (the ones I’ll have when I’m old enough) won’t have to be afraid to mention that they’re from a family with opposite sex parents.
Along with these current issues, is the fact that many persons are still fearful of cultures that they do not belong to. Ignorance, fear of the unknown, and in some cases, a stubborn desire to not co-habit with “outsiders” or interact with them has created many misunderstandings. The awful thing, is that all societies seem to embrace one common excuse, “Humans are supposed to fear anything that is different, we are biologically wired to do so, just like any other species of animal.” How can that be a valid excuse? As it stands, while all other species have some form of brain or instinct, there are none that can function as intelligently as humans. We have the ability to create remarkable innovations, discover or create cures for illnesses that have long plagued humanity. Other species, while similar to us homo sapiens (hope I spelt it correctly), viz. our monkey and chimpanzee friends, and man’s beloved bestfriend–dogs, don’t have those mental capacities; yet they are still capable of integrating into our human world. They have proven themselves capable of adaptation, tolerance, and unconditional love for creatures which are obviously different from them. If these animals are capable of such actions, what excuse does humanity have for ostracising, stigmatising, and/or discriminating against people who are all part of the human race? They all have the same biological make-up, with a few minor obvious tweaks here and there. True, they have different cultures, religions, practices, heritages, but they are as normal as the person you sit next to on the train, or that co-worker you talk with at work, or the friend you grew up with from the cradle.
As a youth in my teenage years, I shouldn’t have to fear whether my discourses on Facebook, or my vocal discussions with my friends will leave me attached with any form of stigma. There should be a limit to how far an individual can express his/ her perspective, I agree. After all, having one’s own perspective does not give you the right to force others to see it, neither should one express an opinion in such a way that it is considered overly offensive. However, the right to an opinion, to a differing point of view is universal, and no one has the right to refuse that. The opinion can be questioned or refuted respectfully, but not beaten down, trodden, or thrown into the proverbial gutter because it suits an individual in authority. Not every Christian wants to start a new Dark Age, not every Muslim wants to become a terrorist, not every teen drinks or has sex, and no person has the same opinion on everything.
Each individual is different. We sing different songs, enjoy different genres of music, I may say football, you may say soccer, I may like roti or pepper-pot, you might love pumpkin pie. These differences give us a “cook-up pot” full of flavour. They help us to create societies that are not monotonous, not one-dimensional, but filled with colours, emotions, everything that makes life great.
**DISCLAIMER:- This was not meant to offend any particular individual or group of persons. It is simply my perspective.**
Kadeen Nichelle Oksana Waldron
April 15-18, 2012.