A friend posted something on Facebook today.  She wondered why kids were so mean and why they said horrible things about each other.  It reminded me of a time when my oldest daughter was a freshman in high school.  She went to school in a ranching community and had the audacity to dress in skirts and high heels as opposed to the standard look which consisted of  jeans, t-shirts and boots.  She was labeled “Barbie” and it was meant derogatively.

One day a boy in her class asked Emily why she had to dress the way she did.  She asked, “What compels people to be so hateful towards a person who is not exactly like them?”  I wrote this for her that day.

Faggot, Slut, Bitch,  Retard, Punk, Jerk, Moron, Jackass.

Labels… Words we use to describe people who are different from ourselves. People that make us feel uncomfortable, uncertain, unnerved, intimidated. We don’t like those feelings so we call names and make fun to ease our own discomfort, our own uncertainties.

What is it within ourselves that compels us to put other people down for the way they look, the way they act, the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, their political beliefs, the people they love? Why do we feel obligated to call attention to their differences? We label, we make sweeping generalizations, we assume when we have no facts, we laugh, we point. We call it teasing, we call it a joke…but it is not fun and it is not funny. It is discrimination, hatred, hostility, fear. It is the insecurity inside us that makes us lash out. It is the ‘hurt or be hurt’ mentality. It’s the ridiculous idea that by making fun of others we will be accepted by our peers. We want to distance ourselves from people who are ‘different’ so that we appear ‘normal.’

The reality is we are all more alike than different. We all want to be accepted by our peers; we want to have friends; we want the freedom to be ourselves without ridicule; we want to love and be loved; we want to be treated fairly; we want to be treated with respect. Imagine what it would be like if we all treated one another with understanding, consideration, acceptance.  Imagine what our lives would be like if we stopped looking outward and started focusing inward. Imagine what our world would be like if we treated others the way we wanted to be treated. Just imagine…

“But if you only have love for your own race, then you only leave space to discriminate and to discriminate only generates hate.” -Black Eyed Peas

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