“Everyone wrinkles and sags and dies and rots. No one is better than anyone else.”
This weekend, I went to Myrtle Beach with my family because my parents had signed up for the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon. I decided to run the first half with my dad (My mom got the stomach bug and couldn’t run. However, I slightly regretted it later, as the 6.5 mile run made my knees hurt really bad!). I was glad to get to see my cousins and my uncle and I also got to pet a precious little elephant named Bubbles! One night, we were at my uncle’s house and my mom was talking to my 15 year old cousin. I walked into the room as they were arguing whether or not some people were better than others. My cousin, who I think it’s fair to say has not acquired enough perspective to understand the gravity of such a topic, was insisting (not in so many words) that some people are just better than others. In response to her comment, my mom said, “Everyone wrinkles and sags and dies and rots. No one is better than anyone else.” It was such a basic statement, but it really resonated with me, and I found the simplicity of this assertion quite profound. Since then, I have been thinking a lot about the fact that all human beings are created equal and how if the people and societies in our world believed in this simple truth, there would be so much less hate and so much more love on earth.
These ponderances have made me conscious of how I perceive people and have casued me to think about whether or not I hold any prejudices, whether conscious or unconscious, in my heart. All of this has made me realize that even as small children, we are filled with prejudices and fears through the way that our society views certain groups of people and that we must combat those prejudices on both an individual and a collective basis. Not only has our society caused individuals to have discriminatory attitudes, but these attitudes also exist prevalently in the unjust systems that have been created. I have also realized that there is a difference between flat out disliking a certain group of people and harboring internal prejudices and general bad feelings against them, both of which are hurtful. Even jokes and generalizations that may at first seem funny are often rooted in long-term prejudice and views of inequality between humans. There is also a difference in recognizing and celebrating differences between people and operating under the mindset that this difference somehow makes certain people less worthy. I believe that even if a joke or statement is without malicious intention, it can still be very hurtful and cause subconscious notions of prejudice. It is my hope that we can one day come to view all human beings as people first – recognizing our similarity as a cohesive group while celebrating the strength of our differences.
Humanity is a multifaceted machine whose dynamic diversity cannot be quantified; there is no straightforward answer to the complex questions that coincide with the human race, but if we ever wish to end the intolerance and hatred extant within the bounds of humankind, we must first abate the resentment and unrest within our own hearts and minds. It is not for us to judge the kind of situation someone is in at a given time in their life. This kind of thinking renders us bereft of our humanity. We must learn to genuinely feel for others and to regard all people as worthy of the same dignity and respect. For me, it helps to realize that anyone could be in any number of situations and the fact that hardships occur in some people’s lives does not make them worth any less. As far as the marginalization of certain groups based on race, religion, sexuality, gender, etc. goes, I cannot comprehend why anyone would be viewed as less worthy based on any of these factors. We are all human beings. We are all created in the image of God. We are all precious. We are all equal. It is our limited human mindset that causes us to think otherwise. However, we must also remember that in this vast and ancient world, human beings are fleeting and fragile; every single person is susceptible to decay and death. This is a much greater issue than simply shifting the way we perceive people in our own hearts and minds, but that is a noble step. The change starts with us.
Thank you all for listening to my babbling and sporadic thought processes!