When 140 Characters Isn’t Enough.
I’m one of those people who never cry. Well, I shouldn’t say “never,” but I definitely feel like I cry less than the average person. I cried when I found out my ex had been cheating on me with my best friend since 7th grade for two months. (Yeah, that happened.) And I cried when my dachshund, Reilly, had to be put to sleep and I didn’t find out until after the fact because I was in class at the time.
(He was only 4. He paralyzed himself which resulted from an overzealous leap.)
Disregarding when I’ve been slightly inebriated, I could probably count the times I’ve cried in recent years on one hand. I’ve been to two wakes (as in the thing before the funeral) in my life and I couldn’t cry at either. I actively tried to formulate tears. I mean, I felt sad, but I couldn’t provide a physical manifestation of that sadness.
And I’m not exactly sure why that is. I think a big part of it comes from hiding my emotions when I was younger because I didn’t want to come off as feminine. I was already the dorky kid with mostly female friends, and because of that alone I had to avoid getting bullied on a daily basis. I didn’t need MORE reasons for kids to yell “fag” and throw rocks at me. (Again, that really happened.) Beyond that, I was a son, a grandson, a brother, a boy—and boys don’t cry.
Kids are mean. And I don’t know if it’s because they were raised poorly—be it by their guardians or by society—or if it’s because they’re genuinely bad people. Although most of us have to, at one point or another, deal with “bad kids,” at least we know who they are. We know they’re bad, we know how they act, how they react, what they say, who they hurt. But when people get older, they figure out how to disguise themselves. They figure out how to mask their desire to put others down. They teach their children that they’re better than other people, that they deserve more. They raise them to believe that people different from them are different for a reason, and different always carries a negative connotation. They mold them into everything they used to be—and the cycle continues.
The cycle continues because everything we’re taught as children holds so much weight. We trust everything that comes out of our parents’ mouths because why wouldn’t we? They love us. They wouldn’t lie. They wouldn’t say something just to say it. Different people really are bad. We really are better than everyone else. And we take these “facts” with us as a reference for every decision, every argument, every relationship we make. And we find people who think the same way we do because it’s so much easier than being told we might be wrong.
Think Santa Claus. When our parents tell us about Santa Claus—that is if you celebrate Christmas—we believe every moment of it and we love it because it’s a great concept that benefits us. We get a little older and we start wondering how an overweight man who lives in the North Pole somehow fits through billions of chimneys in one night with sacks of presents transported through the sky in a sleigh led by flying caribou and after relentlessly attempting to keep this idea alive, our parents finally give in and tell us the truth. But until that epiphany, we believed it to be 100% true. Even if one of our friends in school found out earlier than planned and spilled the beans, we weren’t having it. Our parents told us it was true, and that’s it. End of.
Although some things are ridiculous enough to eventually unravel, some aren’t. Before the 1960s, the idea of separate “white” and “colored” water fountains was perfectly normal. Then of course it goes without saying that interracial marriages were illegal. I mean, all sorts of horrible things would have happened. How would their children know which fountain was theirs? Would they have to install new “mixed” fountains? What constituted “white” anyway? Just a few decades back Italians weren’t even considered “white.” And before that, Irish-Americans were referred to disparagingly as “white negroes.”
As a whole, people are always in an “us against them” state of mind. They think a certain way, they find other people that think the same way as them and from there, they form a group mentality. When this group is or becomes the majority, it makes it easy to dehumanize those who are different from them. It’s that same “we’re better” ideology that their parents taught them when they were little. We’re good people, we’re better, we’re smarter, we’re stronger, we’re holier, we’re right.
But are you?
Maybe instead of blindly accepting how great we are, and how better we are than them, we should take a minute and really think about what it means to be good. Not “good” in the religious sense, because billions of people have hundreds of different belief systems. Good as in the ethical, moral, human sense.
Is it right to believe that one group of people is better than another based solely on their skin color and facial features?
Is it right to deny someone an equal place in society because they’re different from the majority?
Is it even right to believe something without actually thinking about it?
Without actually knowing why you believe it?
I came to my computer not to write a blog, but to send a tweet. The tweet was in response to a feeling I got while I was watching a movie. The movie title isn’t important, just the fact that in it, there was a wedding. It made me think about how ignorant some people are when it comes to love. It made me think about how two people can be truly and deeply in love, yet denied societal acknowledgment because of their gender. About how some are denied marriage and how even if the government legitimized it, there would still be people who thought it was wrong. There would still be people who were disgusted, appalled and furious at something so innocent, so pure and so GOOD. LOVE. How can you hate LOVE? What kinds of things were you taught that made it okay to act against the very thing this world needs most?
Coming to this realization, I felt helpless, frustrated, angry and heartbroken—the magic combination of feelings that made me almost do what I “never” do. The feeling surged up from the pit of my stomach, through my chest, to my head and behind my eyes. I paused the movie, closed my eyes, took a deep breath and stopped the wave before the dam broke. Half because it’s what I’d conditioned myself to do, and half because I hoped what caused the feeling would change for the better before it got worse.
So I beg you to think. Reevaluate what you were taught, what it means to be good, and what things actually need to be combated.
I promise you with 100% of my heart that love is not one of them.