I just finished watching Escape From Sobibor
, which I haven't seen since I was in middle school. I can't stop crying, which I end up doing almost any time I'm reminded of the concentration camps of World War II. There aren't many things that I cry about anymore, but this is one of them.
Fucking racist, bigoted bastards. Did you know that even today, in many countries, homosexuality, transgenderism,
or the profession of beliefs other than the state-approved ideology
is punishable by death? You can't express your ideas and identity. You have to live a lie, wear a false and meaningless outer shell because someone might jail or kill you if you ever let slip who you really are. I don't know if I could live like that. At least, for now, I live in a country that again, for now, allows me to be who I am without major public repercussions.
My dad's family is constantly trying to convert me back to Christianity. I can't even be around them without them trying to do it, no matter how much I ask them not to. There is a girl I work with who is a wonderful person, and who I would love to date, but I can't because she's such a devout Christian that her beliefs don't allow room for a Buddhist boyfriend. I had an old friend disinvite me from his wedding because he became such a hardcore Christian that he actually hated me because of what I believed in, and it's taken years for him to even speak to me again. Compared to the people killed in the concentration camps, and to those who are living in fear of persecution or prosecution for their beliefs or identities, I've had it light.
Most of the people I know accept me for being a Buddhist, for me being who I am, without any fuss. But there are times when I'm reminded that I'm not in the mainstream, the majority, I'm not like "most people" - I'm something else
. Most people assume that because I'm an American, I'm most likely a Christian. I dread "Do you believe in God?", "What church do you belong to?" or other questions like that for numerous reasons, all of them related the the reaction I often get to my answers. It sounds like I might be splitting hairs, but if it ever happened to you, you'd know what I was talking about. Some of you, unfortunately, already do.
This is why I want to be a part of changing people's minds about homosexuality and transgenderism. I don't think I can win my own fight right now, but if I can be any part of helping people realize that acceptance of others who differ from you or the mainstream is good for the entire human condition, I'll feel like I've contributed toward peace and enlightenment for everyone, whatever that may be.
In one of my earliest journal entries,
I listed one of my favorite and most personal quotes as being from the movie Schindler's List
, and although Oskar Schindler probably never actually said it, it reminds me that not doing anything means that it'll be that much longer before all people can enjoy the freedom to be themselves.
Here's the scene that it comes from. I cry every time I think about what it means. Be aware that the realities were much more horrifying than the movies can hope to portray.
Today is Memorial Day
in the United States, where we remember those who've fought and died in wars. It's also for remembrance of those who were mistreated or murdered for who they were, especially as a result of those wars. We are where we are today because someone else decided to take that step before us to do something to help. Let's remember those who helped get us to where we are, and keep in mind how much farther we have yet to go. But most of all, let's make sure that those who come after us enjoy an even better world than we have.
Please, do your part to end intolerance and bigotry. Our universe is plenty big enough for all the ideas, viewpoints and lifestyles we could ever throw at it. If someone is being intolerant or insensitive of someone else, even inadvertently through "common" speech, ask them to stop and examine themselves and their actions. If you find yourself thinking less of someone because of who they are or what they believe in, take a moment and think about why you think or feel that way, and I'll wager that if you look hard enough, it won't make sense to think that way anymore. Maybe even one day, enough of the world will realize this that those countries who codify their intolerance will begin to allow their people to be who they really are in public, without fear of reprisal. Every little bit you can do to bring humanity to accept the wonderful diversity we have lets us find out more about our shared universe, because someone who feels safe, accepted and loved will find that they can do anything they want to do. They can achieve the ultimate raison d'etre
- living a life of purpose and meaning.
In my mind, there is no higher goal.