Category Archives: Tolerance

Stand

Stand up and be counted.  Stand for the weak.  Stand hand in hand with her in public.  Stand still in the dark until your eyes adjust. Stand when you hear the National Anthem.  Set your moral compass and stand fast in the right direction.  Stand up and be counted.  Don’t get caught without a leg to stand on.  Ask others to stand with you.  When your opponent falls, stand down.  Stand for what is right and ask others to stand with you.  In a world plagued with conformity, stand out.  Teach them to stand on their own two feet.  Stand on your tip-toes to get a better view.  When fear strikes, stand fast.  When being measured, stand tall.  Stand on the edge and look down.  Stand up in a boat.  When they say you can’t do it, dig your heels in and stand firm.  Stand side by side and feel your strength.  Don’t stand in her way.  When everyone else is gone, have the courage to stand alone.

Superman stood for truth, justice and the American way.  The Ironed Jawed Angels of 1918 stood up for the rights of women in America.  Ben Cohen stands up against bullying.  Gandhi stood for civil rights and freedom for all citizens of the world. The Stand; we’ve all taken it for one reason or another, and regardless of our motivation, we all stand for something at some time.

All too often, we wander through our days without giving notice to the many stands we take.  Whether we are defending others, promoting a cause, proving a point or showing our strength; we all stand.  I’ve seen it in action, been witness to the results, and even participated.  I’ve felt the fear, the power, the joy, and the helplessness that taking a stand can create; and still I stand.

It’s important for me, living in a world where the actions of others, whether reckless or calculated, directly impact my life and possibly the lives of others, that I continue to stand, both for myself and for those who can’t.  I’m not a hero or a savior, I don’t have endless wisdom or insurmountable strength, and I don’t want power or fame.  I’m just an ordinary person looking for other ordinary people who want to do extraordinary things.

It doesn’t take much to make good things happen; all you have to do is stand.

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Kids being kids?

 Bullying: the habitual badgering and intimidation of people perceived as weaker or less deserving of respect.

There is a ton of talk about the bullying of LGBT students in schools across the United States. Some people would have you believe that it isn’t happening, it’s just the insecurities of a certain group of people, and nothing more. Political figures would have you believe that the specific bullying of LGBT students doesn’t happen because those students are gay, it happens because kids will be kids.  I don’t agree. Bullying exists because some people in this world don’t like those who appear to be different from themselves.

Let’s think about this for a minute.  A bully is someone who picks on another person, either through emotional or physical intimidation, based on another person’s differences.  Now, knowing that, why is it so difficult to believe that children would act in such a manner?  Adults act like that, and we impart our perspective to the children in our lives every day.  I fail to understand why some people actually think that bullying is simply kids being kids.

We’ve seen this before…  In the 60s, the tension between blacks and whites reached an all time high.  Intimidation, hate speech, physical attacks, discrimination; all thrown onto a group of people because they were different, the minority.  Fortunately, after some time and serious struggle, laws were enacted to protect those individuals of difference.  Now move forward to 2012 and the ever-growing tensions between heterosexuals and homosexuals.  Intimidation, hate speech, physical attacks, discrimination; all thrown onto a group of people because they are different; the minority.

How is now different from then?   It isn’t.


Insist

“When you must, insist.  Insist that you be given the opportunity to speak.  Insist that everyone be given the same.  Insist that they listen.  Insist that every viewpoint be given credence – no matter who presents it.  Insist on the truth; insist that people be willing to dig for it.  Insist that the people around you be civil and respectful of all beings.  Insist that they stop already with the jokes that aren’t funny and the compliments that compliment no one.  Insist on a square deal.  Insist that people look at you when they talk to you.  Insist on nothing less from yourself.  When polite isn’t quite enough and demanding seems over the top, simply, firmly, clearly insist.”  ~ Rachel Snyder

I insist that you be respectful.  I insist that you treat each other with dignity.  I insist you practice patience and compassion.  I insist you be your very best self.

Each day I insist my students practice the kind of qualities that breed tolerance and understanding.  They are not allowed to be critical of others based on appearance or preference.  They must challenge each other on the merits of their individual character, and leave behind the stereotypes and predispositions that cloud their judgement and reasoning.  They must.

To be a part of my class is a privilege and an honor, but it must be earned.  You must prove to me that you deserve to share in the experience I am going to give you, and if you are not interested in following the rules of my world, you will be dismissed.  My classroom is a haven for free thinking and self-expression.  No one will be criticized for their opinions or beliefs, and everyone will respect the differences of their peers.  You will encourage each other, and when one of you falls, you will help them along the way.  You will not give up on yourself or your classmates.

The rules are simple; be your best self, and expect the best from those around you.  I won’t have it any other way.


Eat Your Fucking Brussel Sprouts!

I am fed-up with all of the so-called Christian groups in this country acting like hateful asshats.  That’s right, I called them asshats.  I’m pissed off, so you’ll have to forgive me.

The most recent group to pop up on my radar is the One Million Moms. The One Million Moms (OMM) claims that they are “dedicated to saving our young people” and their mission is to save the children.  Ok listen, I’m all for saving children and protecting our youth, but since when is preaching hatred and bigotry a realistic way to help guide the young people of this country.  Yes I know, Hitler managed to indoctrinate thousands of young Germans with his Hitler Youth organization that touted propaganda and fear as a means of controlling a country, but this is not 1939 and it sure as hell isn’t Germany.

I live in America.  This country is supposed to be the melting pot of all nations.  What the fuck happened to us?  Why do we hate each other so damn much?  When did Americans decide to turn on each other instead of banding together and supporting each other in difficult times?  When is it going to stop being okay for people to treat each other like shit solely on the basis of who they love or the color of their skin or what language they speak?  Why is it so difficult to just shut your friggin’ pie hole and let people live their lives without having to constantly worry that they will be attacked or evicted or fired from their job because someone  doesn’t like  the way they live, who they love or what they believe?  I’ve fucking had it!

I see a serious lack of compassion and understanding from organizations that profess they are merely spreading their Christian love and values in an effort to make the world a better place.  These people hide behind a false god and use their religion as a weapon to degrade  those of us who might not agree with their way of thinking.  They preach a religion of propaganda that is intended to dehumanize the people they don’t see as being fit to receive the basic human decency that ALL people deserve.

I am an American, and I am also a daughter, a writer, a mother, a lesbian, a sister and a teacher.  I am  so many things, and I fail to understand how I can be singled out as having caused the downfall of this nation when I preach no hate, make no threats and encourage a sense of tolerance in all areas of my life.   What is it about me that makes me so dangerous in the eyes of the One Million Moms?  Why am I forced to defend my life when all I want to do is have an honest and fair existence like everyone else?   I don’t care if you’re a democrat or a republican.  I don’t care if you like me or the way I am living my life.  I don’t fucking care what religion you observe or what color your skin is.  All I ask is that you stop, take a breath, and think about what you are doing.  Think about all of the amazing people you condemn and dismiss on a daily basis simply because their beliefs are different from yours.  We can not all be like-minded individuals, we need diversity in our society in order to grow; both spiritually and mentally.  What we can be, is tolerant.   It doesn’t cost you anything, you won’t lose anything or have to give up anything if you consciously choose to be tolerant.

Look at it like this… Tolerance is kind of like brussel sprouts. They are bitter and mushy, and no amount of cheese sauce makes them any easier to eat. As kids, we push them around our plate and hope that they will just magically disappear, but something interesting happens once you finally get them down; over time, you start to realize how good they are for you, and you eventually go back for more until brussel sprouts are just a normal part of dinner.  Practicing tolerance is the same; it isn’t easy at first and you think you might not be able to handle all of the individuality you are confronted with, but eventually you start to realize that the differences you see in others are actually something to be respected and applauded.  Eventually you start to see those differences, not as a threat, but as something that’s actually good for you.

So come on America, eat your fucking brussel sprouts.