Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tolerance, We Could All Use Some

We are doing a project for my biology class; we have been given topics, broken up into teams and told to prepare presentations. We would be debating against another team on the subject. Today's debate was about Gene Therapy, though it mostly revolved around cancer and its potential cures. A girl on the pro gene therapy team had a father who died almost a year ago from cancer. We were finishing up the debate with the one minute last statements. The con team was going first. He was talking about a boy who had died because of gene therapy. He turned to pro team and rhetorically asked them "What if that had been your father?" He had meant to say loved one or brother. It was an honest slip and he clearly felt terrible. This caused the girl to burst out into tears. Right after the debate was done, the two of them went in the hall so he could apologize. The rest of the class automatically jumps to how it was so terrible and that poor girl! I don't think with my heart. I think much more objectively. So, while I readily agreed it was rather cold and cruel, it was a great point and a very effective strategy when you took a step back and looked at just the facts. I was immediately attacked as a 'heartless, soulless [expletive]". Wow. Thanks for letting me explains, guys. I never said a word against this girl. I felt bad for her. And yet here I was, being attacked until the bell rang by twelve different people who never once let me defend my viewpoint. Way to have an open mind.

I don't care if it's religion, skin color, hair color, origin, language. Where do these people get the right to judge us? Let me rephrase that. Where do they get the right to judge us, without giving us a chance or giving us the opportunity to defend our beliefs. Just because we're different than you does not mean that we are terrible people. We're all different, all unique. We all have different backgrounds, different life styles, different opportunities, different influences. To think that any one person is better or worse than you is quite judgmental and quite unfair. All we want is a chance to show you who we are. Why can't we even get that?

I've been using the terms 'us' and 'we' quite loosely. I'm sure everyone of you readers can fit into some category, some group that has been discriminated against, or attacked, or disbelieved. And you know how terrible it feels to be shut out and knocked down and  not even given a chance to explain or defend yourself. But the real issue is, have you ever done it yourself, when you know how terrible it feels?

The truth is, we all have. We have all gone and shut someone down and made them feel terrible on purpose. Just because they didn't agree with us. Perhaps it's just a characteristic of every person. Perhaps we all have some hidden longing to be better than everyone no matter what the cost to them or us. Does this make us terrible? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Perhaps this is just a defense mechanism ingrained in our instincts. Change is not always a good thing. But denying other people the right to be different quickly turns our society from a colorful, exciting place to live to a bland, grey, repetitive dictatorship.

I'm not here to preach. I'm not here to put anyone down or insult human kind. I just... I just wish people were a little more tolerant. Instead of viciously attacking the person, try to be more open and just keep the nasty comments for later when they're alone and writing in a journal. You can't change everyone who disagrees or has a different opinion than you. You just gotta take it in stride, try to not butt heads, and just keep pushing.


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