Thursday, September 09, 2004

A Warrior

Today, I made up my mind to be brave -- to be a warrior.

What happened was this: I heard a story about a relative who made an anti-semetic comment. She's a cousin. And I heard that when she was told that one of her acquaintances--who is Jewish--had a baby, my cousin asked: "What did they name her?"

Sarah-Jane was the baby's name.

"Not bad for a Jew," said my cousin.

At that moment, when I heard that comment, I decided to become a warrior against stupidity. Maybe 'stupidity' is the wrong word. It's 'ignorance' I want to stand up to, really.

I have suffered through too many jokes or negative comments about blacks, gays, jews, polish, irish. It's been going on too long for my personal comfort -- beginning with dumb stuff I heard as a child.

And I know a little bit about that hurt. When I was a kid, I was mercilessly teased because I had a soft, tender voice. Take your pick...they called me everything: fag, sissy, girl, queer. It hurt...deep.

Now, when I hear a kid speak like that, my heart breaks because I know what their school day is like.

As an adult, while this kind of garbage may not be coming out of my mouth, I am complicit every time I silently smile or change the subject quickly without addressing what was said.

Why can't I say, "Boy, is that an ignorant comment!" Or, how about: "How would you feel if someone said something like that about you?"

I can't because I'm afraid. Afraid I'll be rejected, left out, criticized. That's the plain, awful truth.

But you know what, is it such a risk being rejected by people like that?

But do I really want to play Big Brother (ala 1984, not the TV show) and be in charge of monitoring others? No.

But if I do this right I won't have to worry about other people. Rather, I want to decide how I want to live my life. Do I want to hang around people who say negative, stereotypical...and damn it, hurtful, things about others? No.

And while I'm busy making those important decisions, hopefully I'll get better at being aware of the content of my own thinking.

I'm no angel. Maybe I'm not verbal, but I sure can be cereberally ignorant. Every time I make a judgement about somebody before I've sat down with them and listened to what they have to say, I'm guilty, too.

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