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We forget we’re all the same

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bolognaI 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.

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Jack D’Aurora writes for considerthisbyjd.com  

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Discussion

  1. Jay Sumner  December 19, 2016

    As usual, great post, Jack. Although there is plenty of hate and vitriol presented to us constantly ( one reason I prefer PBS news, which can present alternative viewpoints without a spitting demonstration) there is another reason I think, which permeates our society and needs airing. And that is not hate, but fear. Fear or discomfort for being in the presence of others who are different. The Pope washes and kisses the feet of strangers. Who among us would do that, even in private? Even in the US, which arguably could be the least class-conscious of western societies, we are uncomfortable with those we do not routinely associate with. I’ve long felt that there is more economic prejudice than racial prejudice in our society, but that’s just my guess, and certainly not meant to dismiss racial aspects. I just think some of what may appear as racial is actually using race to hide something else. Is that more or less sinister than hate?
    I’m surely no angel, or even a good example. I too have my reluctance to engage with people I do not feel comfortable with. But I know in my case, it’s more fear driven than hate. Or at least I think so, I hope.

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    • jdaurora@behallaw.com  December 19, 2016

      You raise a good point, Jay. Fear is a powerful emotion and is often behind bad behavior. Why? Because when we feel we are at risk or that we stand to lose something or when we feel powerless or we confront something that challenges us, we become fearful. Unless we are able to control ourselves, the next step after fear is an outburst of anger.

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  2. Ben Zambito  December 19, 2016

    Jack, thanks for your post. I watched an animated Disney movie last night called “Zootopia”. It dealt with these issues, and I bet you would find it to be an interesting watch.

    (reply)
  3. Nancy Petro  December 20, 2016

    Wonderful post, Jack.

    (reply)

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