Every time something terrible happens in the news – terrible like, “hey, let’s try to shoot up a black church, and oops, that didn’t work, so let’s kill two other random, black grocery shoppers instead because, you know, they’re black” or “hey, let’s shoot up a synagogue filled with innocent people who are worshiping because, you know, they’re Jewish,” I can hear Natalie Merchant’s voice as clear as day in my mind, “Oh, what’s the matter here?”
“Why?” is my question. How do you go from hate to ending someone’s life? In fact, why hate? Please explain it to me, what’s the point exactly? So I don’t agree with you or you with me, does that give anyone the right to take life? I don’t curse much, but here’s the answer: FUCK NO. Why do people waste their time harboring nasty feelings about someone who is different? We’re all different. That’s the damn point. No two people are exactly the same, and if you want to do or be someone who is different, then you should be able to knock yourself out. We all get to choose our lives. The journey we take is our own and no one else’s. Do I have to like someone else’s journey or be involved? No. But somewhere along the road, we have many people who have forgotten (or never learned) what it means to show respect. Respect for opinions, respect for differences. RESPECT FOR HUMAN LIFE.
What about the proverbial Golden Rule? Don’t we still teach that to our Kindergarteners? We do. I know. I currently have a Kindergartener, and I’ve had two Kindergarteners prior to him. So if we treat people the way that WE would like to be treated, I’m pretty damn sure that killing ourselves doesn’t come up in that equation.
What especially gets me is when people do it in the name of religion, Christianity especially. I was disgusted when recently a politician used the Bible to justify the separating of children from their parents at the border? Really? Have you actually opened your Bible because if you have, I’m pretty sure you would see that Jesus was the kind of man who was kind and loving to all people – regardless. He sought out the people whom others were busy judging (prostitutes, shady accountants, lepers, you get the picture).
Who are you to judge? Who am I to judge? What’s that old saying about not judging someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes? I firmly believe in embracing the differences between us. We are all HUMAN BEINGS. Under no circumstances do any one of us have the right to take another’s life. And here’s the thing, why waste your time with hating someone else because you don’t like the way they look, dress, love, are? Focus on making your corner of the world a better place, and mind your own damn business when it comes to everyone else.
I grew up in a religion that was extremely close-minded to the point of not being allowed to “associate” with anyone who was not that religion. Talk about insular. I will never forget when I started at Rutgers University. One of my first courses – in the English department, mind you — was Theories of Sex & Gender. I believe the Professor who taught the course is still there, and I can tell you he is outstanding. The course opened my eyes to an entire world of people whom I had been taught were sinning. They are human beings, for God’s sake! We read Kate Bornstein’s memoir, and I remember being so touched by the internal and external struggle she went through before she transitioned and after. At NJLA (New Jersey Library Association conference), Janet Mock spoke about her own struggles. How these stories do not evoke empathy is something that I will never understand.
We are meant to be kind to each other, to love each other, to help one another when we are in need. I feel like the answer is that the people who commit these terrible acts have to be insane, because otherwise, it’s too scary to think about.
In the words of the beautiful songbird, Ms. Merchant:
“Oh, what’s the matter here? I’m tired of the excuses everybody uses. . .but get this through that I don’t approve. . . If I’m the only witness to your madness, please offer some words to balance out what I see and what I hear.”
Note: The song, What’s the Matter Here by 10,000 Maniacs is specifically referring to child abuse.