This appeared as a post on Facebook this morning, and resulted in an interesting, if somewhat antagonistic (at least on the part of a couple of individuals) dialogue. I was, however, impressed by most of the participants in the dialogue who truly understood the underlying message which I read as: It’s okay to believe or be whatever you want. It is NOT okay to belittle or otherwise be unkind to others because their beliefs or their nature neither match yours, nor make sense to you.
It never ceases to amaze me that, instead of marveling, and even rejoicing in the fact that we are all different, unique individuals who contribute to an amazing, multifaceted world, there are some who would see us as just a bunch of cookie cutter versions of each other, while others find it necessary to criticize what they don’t understand by attacking the people rather than discussing the idea and maybe (heaven forbid!) even learning something from it.
I am so grateful to have friends of all shapes, sizes and colors with belief systems as diverse as their outside packaging. Though, admittedly, I’m still struggling with my knee jerk reaction to the concepts of “God” and the Christian version of the man called “Jesus”, I appreciate the fact that I do have people in my life who have those beliefs and give me reason to accept and appreciate that they believe as they do, and that it is different than what I believe, though no less valuable or meaningful to them than my spirituality is to me.
And speaking of people who need a lesson in kindness, a blog post was shared on my Facebook page which was so amazingly good (not to mention, pertinent to today’s topic) that I am going to post a link to it here! The woman very clearly and succinctly, and with her mama bear claws carefully sheathed, tells it exactly like it is.
So many of my friends who are mothers will really appreciate the amazing restraint she showed in not calling the insensitive b*&$h and giving her the dressing down she so clearly deserved!
One thing which irked me a lot when my girls were younger, and especially when they were teenagers was adults who felt they had the right to say whatever they wanted to a young person, as if their superior age exempted them from treating someone younger with respect. I am reminded of one particular incident when I left my daughter, Heather, in line at Costco while I went back to get something I forgot. When I returned, she told me that an older woman who was standing in line behind her started speaking abusively to her and claiming that she’d cut in front of her. Of course, when I reappeared, the woman was as sweet as punch, and my daughter, bless her heart, had been very polite, but adamant about the fact that she had, indeed, been there before the woman’s husband drove their cart towards the check stands. But that didn’t mean that her feelings weren’t hurt, nor that my mama bear claws didn’t come out and assure her that some people just never learn manners.
I am very proud that experiences like this, painful as they might have been have made my daughter an amazingly caring and compassionate person. In fact, we were talking today about how those same ignorant, insensitive people are the ones who make life hell for parents of children with challenges including autism and down’s syndrome. They seem unable to see past the fact that someone is “different” to the beautiful person that person might not even be if they weren’t “different”.
Which goes right back to what I said about rejoicing, marveling and embracing our differences. (funny how I managed to actually get back to a point for a change, huh?) Both Heather and I suffered a lot of cruelty at the hands of our peers for what is now called ADHD. We were different and we stood out and kids raised by parents who feared those differences tried to (and for a long time, succeeded in) making us feel badly about ourselves because we didn’t quite fit in. Yet, I’d venture to guess that most of the greatest minds and talents in history did not fit in, in the conventional sense.
In my opinion, if we don’t step outside of the box, especially one imposed by someone else, how are we ever going to become the amazing person we were meant to be?
I’m going to take poetic license with an old advertising campaign.
Don’t hate me because I’m different, just because you’re afraid to be!
My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful that I developed the courage to embrace my differentness.
2. I am grateful for women like Jenny who speak out for their children and their right to be treated kindly.
3. I am grateful for a daughter who took painful experiences and turned them into kindness and compassion.
4. I am grateful for life’s lessons and examples of those who overcame them in grand style.
5. I am grateful for my friends who share loving, compassionate stories.
Love and light