[This is NOT A Racist, Sexist, Homophobic Or Bigoted Post But…]
…If you’re a racist, sexist, homophobic or religious bigot who believes in what you say and legally acts upon expressing those beliefs, I salute you.
Not because I agree with you in any way shape or form, in fact, far from it.
I don’t one little bit.
My own views see no race as either above or below another hierarchically, no sex as superior or inferior, no sexual persuasion as anything other than personal choice and a matter between consenting adults, no religion as any more or less deserving of special consideration or treatment than any other and no form of bigotry as anything other than a personal expression of belief, however misinformed or uneducated that belief may seem to be to myself or anyone else.
I don’t agree with your standpoint, your bias or your bigotry in the slightest but I salute you because you believe in something strongly, you act upon that belief by expressing it in ways which, whilst they may be hurtful for others to hear, are not intrinsically harmful to them.
I salute you because I see those who stand ready to express their beliefs as heroic exemplars of those for whom freedom is more than just a word.
I salute you because I too want to feel, say, express and act upon what I believe without being forced into silence by those who consider my contrarian or oppositional views to be wrong or in some way disallowed because it doesn’t fit the framework that someone else believes it should… or MUST!
And I salute you because to do anything less is to vote myself into silence, restriction and powerlessness next time a majority vote against an important perspective that I hold to be true, dear or both.
I want to think what I think, believe what I believe, value what I value and be given every opportunity within the law to exercise those thoughts, beliefs and actions any way that I see fit and so, if I’m to hold true to what I hope for myself, I hope for it for you too.
See, the way I see it is quite simple really.
Attacking another’s beliefs (no matter how far removed they are from our own, no matter how absurd they may seem or how offensive they may feel to us) is a surefire way to guarantee that they’ll cling evermore tightly to those they already have and likely NEVER voluntarily, with an open heart or open mind explore whether those beliefs are true, whether they are valid and whether they serve to make their own lives any better or worse as a result of believing them.
And make no mistake, forcing people to political correctness or ‘policing’ what they can or can’t say relative to their beliefs about themselves or others IS an attack… at a core, fundamental level.
During my own lifetime I have been racist, sexist, homophobic and any number of other ‘ists’ and ‘isms’ you could care to name, yet, as is invariably the case with those who actually live life and see their theories of what is real (particularly our bigotry and bias) meeting real life people in real life situations, I saw that my evidence was unsubstantiated, my biases simply partial perspectives and my bigotry nothing more than the result of, initially, social programming and then later, being forced to accept certain beliefs as true and being discouraged, disallowed and, at times, physically or emotionally damaged by those who wanted to TELL me what was real rather than let me learn it for myself.
Yet learn I did because I questioned, assessed, re-evaluated and redefined each of my isms and ists based on what I was experiencing of life rather than what I was TOLD was true.
I believe that this is the ONLY way we learn. I mean TRULY learn. As in, make new neuro-associations and connections that give old data new meaning and, from that new meaning creates actions and behaviours that are in alignment with the highest parts of who we are and who we could yet become.
The brain is a pattern recognition machine above and beyond all else and so isms, ists and our bigotries are simply ‘the best patterns we’ve come up with based on existing combinations of data’. Sure, they can be destructive, damaging and downright painful but they are but one possible pattern in a brain capable of creating infinite combinations.
IF It is allowed to do so.
And by ‘allowed’, I mean freedom to explore, examine and yes, EXPRESS our beliefs freely rather than being ordered to keep them to ourselves, ‘don’t rock the boat’ or ‘colour between the lines’ as so many seem to be telling us we’re either ‘supposed to’ or, worse, MUST.
We are different in so many ways and yet those things that will always bring us the most comfort in times of chaos, the most healing in times or hurt and the most medicine in times where our lives feel in a mess have, are and most likely ALWAYS been our beliefs, and chief amongst them, that belief that WE are free to choose them , rather than having them, imposed upon us by others.
We already see, hear, feel, experience and evidence for allowing people the freedom to choose their religious beliefs and, despite historical atrocities, the growing trend has been that in most places, in most parts of the world, most of the people feel strong certainty that their religion is ‘the right one’ without resorting to attacking and killing their neighbours of alternate faith.
Yes, there are extremists allying themselves to each and every faith in the world and have been for every phase of history but they have always been few and have always been what has come to be known as ‘fundamentalists’, those who believe literally every written word from their scripture and vehemently and violently refuse exploration, examination or expression of beliefs that don’t match what they have been taught.
For the better part though, those of alternate theistic belief systems who are practicing what their religion teaches, learn to ‘love thy neighbour’ and, as part of doing so learn to first tolerate, then accept and then feel curious about their differences rather than either trying to homogenise them through political correctness, deny their existence altogether or decry, defame, demonise or attempt to destroy those who have a worldview different than their own.
And this comes from ‘good people’ seeing, hearing, experiencing and interacting with other ‘good people’ who show them the kindness, compassion, consideration and respect that they too would wish to experience from themselves NOT from those who attempt to TELL them what they can or can’t say or do or believe or who, in their ignorance and incompetence of interpersonal communication wish to TELL the other what they believe rather than asking outright (‘You are a Muslim therefore you think…’, ‘you voted Trump therefore you think…’ etc)
The human brain is a pattern recognition machine and it’s bloody brilliant at it.
Because it’s so amazing adept at learning patterns we have command of math, languages, music, art, science and much, much more besides and ALL of these ‘learnings’ are characterised by the brain’s desire to explore, examine and express whatever patterns it ‘holds to be true’ at that moment in time.
What the brain is less awesome at doing is learning to change and adapt its patterns when it is under threat such as when being attacked, judged, restricted or challenged in ways that are personal and threaten social connection or perceived hierarchy.
At those times the brain does what it’s designed to do when threatened; it follows a pattern. A very predictable one. Fight, flight, or freeze. All of which shut down the ability to learn, the ability to explore and examine new possibilities and patterns and then the ability to express the new pattern to see if it works to bring about the desired outcomes.
So yes, I believe in freedom of expression, even when that expression may be rich in isms and ists and even when it MAY cause offence, for it is when two brains come together and say “hey, your expression of your belief hurt me and here’s why” that we have the greatest possibility and probability of helping them to create newer and more effective patterns that bring forth the calm from the chaos, the healing from the hurting and the medicine from the mess that so many of us seem to be experiencing these days.
Once we become adults we are each responsible for defining, refining and aligning with what feels true for US and trust that others will do the same because this above all, is the most valuable aspect of being human; the ability to experience ourselves as the architects and engineers of our own freedom.
So, if you’re a racist, sexist, homophobic, anti Semitic or religious bigot who believes in what you say and legally act upon those beliefs, I salute you.
Not because I agree with what you say; but simply because beliefs DESERVE expression and because without it, our lives (and our ability to improve them) are so much poorer.
Truth, joy and love,
P.S – simply because I notice that many people seem to prefer to instruct around rather than explore messages such as this, let me state explicitly:
- This post has been a long time coming though triggered recently by Brexit in the U.K and more recently by the US elections where people in opposition over ideals and beliefs decided to ‘turn it up a notch’ and go into opposition with those who HELD the beliefs and ideals, making a choice-driven expression of personal freedom into a story of ulterior motives such as racism and xenophobia.
- I am puzzled by social constructs that claim democracy and freedom of speech on the one hand yet that decry, defame and demonise those who during democratic process, disagree with one idea or another. It feels to me to be juvenile and hypocritical and smacks of ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ thinking processes that are even more unfair than the unfairness being perceived by those who didn’t see the vote go their way.
- Brexit did not, does not and will not affect only the UK. Many millions (perhaps billions) of people who did not have the right to vote in the U.K. Referendum will see their lives change. The same is true for the billions around the world who did not vote for ‘the most powerful man in the world’ yet whose decisions as president will have far-reaching consequences for countless citizens of countless countries around the world. It has ever been this way and always will be and so the myopic view, whilst understandable is… well… myopic. The only thing the truly makes sense is to ask ‘ok so now what?’ And get to acting on whatever your answer is in the best way you know how.
- I see everyone as equal but not the same. And I don’t want to either. I enjoy difference in sex, appearance, culture, religion, spirituality, language, humour, sexual orientation and too many other factors to mention. I wasn’t always this way, yet by examining, exploring and expressing myself and my beliefs openly and honestly and ‘giving permission’ for others to do the same I now enjoy PEOPLE more than I ever have done at any other time in my life and STILL hold true to my own values and beliefs without feeling the need to persuade others over to them. I believe that I have responsibility only for the expression of what I believe, it’s up to YOU to choose whether to ignore it or explore it. Both are fine by me.
- I believe that freedom is the ultimate ‘sponsor’ of happiness. Look to ANY instances where your freedoms are being taken away from or restricted from you and you’ll see that whether it be curfew, control over what you can or can’t wear, where you can or can’t live, who you can or can’t have as a friend or lover or spouse that it’s always control, restriction and limitation that lies behind our unhappiness. It’s not wealth or fame or success that makes us happy but our freedoms… and there are no freedoms more valuable than freedom of expression.
- You are freely invited and encouraged to EXPLORE my intent, thoughts and beliefs around this post. I’ll answer everything I can as cleanly and clearly as I can. But if you intend to INSTRUCT me as to why what I’ve said here is wrong, that what I ‘really believe’ is that racism, sexism, homophobia or religious bigotry is ok and acceptable to me, that I’m a closet member of the KKK, a neo-nazi or anything similar then I’ll exercise my freedom not to respond.
- I wrote this post because I simply believe that people are, essentially wanting to and trying to be the best versions of themselves that they can be and yet it’s so easy for a brain under threat to stop seeing the opportunities for the new patterns that lead to our volition and instead see only the fight, flight and freeze patterns that come from the fear that control, restrictions and repression brings.
- Whilst I agree in everyone’s right to voice, express and communicate their isms and ists, I believe no one has the right to bring deliberate physical or mental harm on anyone else. Being assaulted or mistreated on account of ethnicity, sex, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else you could add to this list is NOT ok with me… ever.