Play along. Write down (or just hold in your brain) the first three things that come to mind when I describe a person.
-He is a white, conservative male.
-He was raised in small town (rural) America.
-He was raised with christian values with an evangelical bent.
Did you do it? Did you write down or think about what the first three thoughts about this profile were?
For some, the list, whether it be mental or physical, had positive associations, and for others, the list had negative associations. Guess what? If you had any thoughts about this individual strictly based on the facts above, you based them on stereotypes.
Relax. We ALL are influenced by stereotypes. It is how we respond to our stereotypes that matters. I am not judging or shaming anyone in any way. I am just trying to get us to hold up a mirror before we say anything else. We need to understand ourselves in order to come together with others.
Deep down we all want to be understood and accepted. That is common ground; let’s start there.
You are tired of people not accepting your view. You are tired of not having a voice. You are tired of being blamed. You are tired for a lot of reasons, but mostly you are tired of others viewing the world with closed minds and anger in their hearts.
I imagine that at least one statement there resonated with you.
I hope you will keep the mirror up as I continue. You see, many of us are circulating articles and making statements in response to the election. One side of the conversation out there is obviously divisive and widely discouraged. However, the side I want to highlight is the one that is accepted in public view.
My hope is that those involved in this conversation do not intend it to be divisive and think of it as an effort to unify. My second hope is that we can be honest enough with ourselves to effect change in order to create true acceptance and safety for all. Here we go….
I have read many articles (some from reputable news sources) that are being widely circulated and accepted. These articles make claims like:
-Conservative Christians refuse to accept others and promote division.
-Rural America is close minded because rural people simply don’t have experience with minorities.
-Rural America voted conservative because it is anti-progress.
-(On the more extreme side) People that voted for Trump are uneducated, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, etc. or at least condone that thinking.
-Trump supporters need to take responsibility for their votes and do something to prove they aren’t those things in the last list.
In my heart of hearts, I don’t think they are meaning to do it, but people writing these articles and people circulating these articles are creating division. These articles are making claims about people based on locale, political view, and religion. These articles are taking the stance that anyone who does not line up with a particular ideology is ruining our country. They are doing the very thing they believe they are trying to stop. They are devaluing anyone who thinks differently from them.
The new accepted majority isn’t unified by race, sexual-orientation, or social class. It is unified by ideology. The new majority is anyone who is open minded and liberal enough to accept all lifestyles.
There are some in that majority who are willing to accept all lifestyles….well, except for the lifestyles that have a set of standards which make claims of right or wrong. The exclusion of these people is acceptable because some people who have those standards of right and wrong don’t show love to all people. They should, but they don’t. So it is okay to call them and anyone else from the same background regardless of their actual actions ignorant bigots, right?
Unintentionally, many in the new social majority are discriminating against anyone they view to be close minded. I hope we are honest enough with ourselves to see both the truth and the irony.
So, what can be done?
We can understand that we are all flawed individuals with the right to our opinions and views. We can disagree with each other while still loving one another. We can stop claiming that anyone who thinks differently than we do isn’t educated, good, cultured, or worth giving a voice.
Remember, we all have stereotypes. The problem is not that they exist. The problem is how we respond to them. We can recognize our stereotypes and set them aside as we interact with people… actual people. It is time, America, to look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we are truly willing to love and accept ALL people without agreeing on everything.
I hope the answer is, “Yes.”