What Minority Rights Have To Do With Living on Purpose
This week, my country voted on whether or not to introduce same-sex marriage. Without wanting to be dramatic, I’d say that the ride to that ‘yes’ has been pretty traumatic.
Before this ‘issue’ started being debated properly, I thought most people in my country were okay with same-sex relationships. After all, I’ve never really had any problems or bad reactions.
But A LOT of people have come out as very strongly against the marriage of same-sex couples. Watching the debates in Parliament really opened my eyes. My jaw literally dropped over and over again at the things some of our MPs came out with.
Now, this isn’t the place to have a debate about marriage and same-sex relationships, but I feel like I have a duty to use this opportunity to talk about equality and what it’s got to do with you.
So let’s link this issue up with living on purpose.
If you’re living on purpose, you’ve got to be aware of what you’re doing, right? The idea is to know what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it, so that you make the best decisions. You don’t want to one day realise that you’re not happy with the state of your health, or that you’ve missed opportunities because you were scared. It’s all about understanding the implications of everything you do.
Often, the things you do have implications for other people too.
Let’s look at a tiny example.
Maybe you’re having a laugh with your friends, and one of them is being all soppy about his girlfriend, so you call him a girl. No harm done, right? It was just a joke.
Meh. It sounds picky, but, by making that joke, you’re implying that girls have to be one way, and boys another. You’re dictating what is ‘normal’ and accepted, and laughing at people who don’t fit into that. And that could leave some people feeling isolated and self-conscious.
We have opportunities to make life easier or harder for the people around us.
For example, in the past, some of my Facebook friends have posted ‘jokey’ statuses about ‘trannies’. I had a choice between pointing out that they were being a bit disrespectful, and therefore encouraging them to be more respectful in future, and ignoring them, and so letting the problem carry on.
Pretty much every time we do or don’t do something, our decision affects someone else. If we ignore problems, we’re contributing to them, so we need to make sure we know what effects our actions have.
I don’t want to get hung up on examples or details.
I don’t want to talk about different minorities, and all the little ways that what we say and do might affect other people. That’s not the point of this post.
The point is that, with the freedom to do what we want, comes the responsibility to be respectful of other people.
We can’t be perfect, and I slip up all the time.
I try my hardest to notice when something I’m about to say or do might not be 100% respectful to someone else, because I know that it’s my duty to change my behaviour to include minorities; it’s not up to that person to change themselves to fit in with society (i.e. I’m using the social model of disability.)
But, even though it’s hard to get it right all the time, and I probably can’t know all there is to know about political correctness and so on, it’s my job to try to learn about the issues other people have because of the way society is, so that I can adjust my own behaviour to make life a bit easier for them.
We’re all different, and variety is good.
Last night, I watched Django Unchained, which is about a freed slave, and the thought going through my head throughout the film was ‘how on earth could we do that?’ It was horrific thinking that it used to be normal to treat black people so badly, purely because of one physical difference.
And not letting people marry people of the same sex is also discrimination because of a physical difference. It just makes no sense to me.
And I’m sure you agree with me on that, and would never be deliberately disrespectful.
But, a lot of the time, we’re disrespectful without even knowing it.
We’re not aware of how the words we use make others feel. Loads of people describe things they don’t like as ‘gay’, without realising that a gay person might be offended by that, because they’re essentially saying ‘gay = bad’.
But, because we’re living on purpose, we want to be aware of what we’re doing, and of how we’re affecting other people.
So let’s think about what we say and do, and be nice to everyone, and enjoy diversity.
(And forgive me if that was too preachy :P )
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