I couldn’t get away from it. The same message came to me three times last weekend. Each message was simple—the importance and value of every human life. But strange, how difficult it is to recognize the value of each human life when we have to deal with people who differ from what we believe the norm should be. I’ll explain more in a minute, but first let’s look at the series of messages.
The first came via NPR radio. The guest speaker was a religious historian, who spoke about a commonality in all religions. They all feature some version of the Golden Rule, which, in the Christian tradition, is
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”
Next came a blog post from a friend, Artie Isaac, who wrote about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, created on December 10, 1948, in response to the Holocaust. Acknowledging the inherent dignity and the inalienable rights of all people, the Declaration consists of 30 fundamental rights, the first being that all human are “equal in dignity and rights.”
The third message came when my wife and I attended an interfaith prayer session. We listened to ten versions of the Golden Rule from ten different faith traditions. “What is hateful to you, do not do to our fellow man” comes from the Judaic tradition. The Muslim version is, “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother what he desires for himself.” The Buddhists believe, “Hurt not others in ways that you find hurtful.” You get the idea.
I felt the significance of these ideas when I visited the Kaleidoscope Youth Center, which provides safe space, advocacy, education and support for LGBTQ youths. I was there on behalf of the Kiwanis Club of Columbus to accept a plaque in recognition of a $20,000 grant the club had made during the summer to help fund the renovation of Kaleidoscope’s new location.
I asked one of the board members to give me a sense for the kids who make use of Kaleidoscope and was told of a 17-old year old boy who was kicked out of his house when he told his parents he was gay. I was stunned. As if this kid didn’t have enough problems, he had to face the rejection of his own parents.
I’ll bet everyone agrees with the Golden Rule—in the abstract anyway. How can anyone argue with such a simple idea that promotes what is good? But the importance of the Rule diminishes when it comes time to practice it in real life.
The reality is, we still have vitriol in public discourse, discrimination and hate. And parents who throw their son out because he’s gay.
There are those who believe they can treat others differently, just because they’re different, whether that difference is race or political beliefs or—in the case of that 17-old boy—sexual orientation. We will place so much importance on our own beliefs and standards that we become intolerant of those who look or act differently or maintain a different belief structure. We then we rationalize that those differences justify treating others badly.
We forget a simple fact: we’re all human beings, plain and simple.
For this one reason, we’re all entitled to be treated the same. All the religions agree on this simple principle, the United Nations agrees, and, I suspect, anyone you ask would agree.
The problem is, we forgot about the common bond between us all when we have to face and deal with someone who is different.
Jack D’Aurora writes for considerthisbyjd.com
Also published on Medium.
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