This post is inspired by the transition of Caitlyn Jenner, but it is much broader than that. It’s about all of us.
I want to issue you a challenge.
I want you to try and live one day without gossip, without judgement, and without excluding others. I want you to do one nice thing for someone today without expecting anything in return. Ok, maybe that’s a couple challenges.
I am thinking out loud today on this topic because I think it’s important. As I’m sure you are all aware, Bruce Jenner made a public transition to Caitlyn this week. I think it is courageous, heart-warming, and important. A lot of people share my sentiments. A lot of people don’t.
Maybe I’m sensitive to it because I have experienced backlash from being an addict, but my brain and my heart really struggle to make sense of the hateful and shaming behavior that one human being can impose on another. Rather than take the time to sit and listen to what people have to say, it is easier to operate from a pedestal of ignorance and misinformation. It is easier to misdirect a person’s true fear and vulnerability by creating a smoke screen of insults and bigotry. Rather than being open-minded to something we are not familiar with, we cast stones. It’s just easier.
Taking the time to be vulnerable, even with ourselves, is hard. To admit that something makes us uncomfortable is easy, but then instead of taking time to figure out why, we try and escape the feeling altogether. We sneer, we dismiss, we ignore. I understand it and I abhor it.
My confusion also comes from what part the decisions other people make about how to live their lives has to do with me.
Caitlyn Jenner has nothing to do with me. She is not me. She has no idea who I am. She is simply trying to be true to herself. As quoted in Vanity Fair, “If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life. You never dealt with yourself.'” Her statement makes me wonder how many other people in this world are wondering the same thing.
Why is it so difficult to let people be who they are? Why are we always trying to change and control them (an exercise in futility)? Why can’t we all just get along??
I have learned through personal experience that you may not agree with my feelings at any particular time, but that does not mean that they are not valid. What I am feeling is what I am experiencing at that moment. It is my truth.
Dismissing the feelings of others, be them fleeting or from birth, is denying their authenticity as a human being. Some feelings, such as my anger at my husband for eating all my snacks (?!), may change, but some feelings, such as the deeply-rooted identification as the opposite gender, may not. The point is to always validate the feelings of others. It is their truth.
How do I know that what these persecuted groups say is true?
Because they say it.
Because they feel it.
Because what person — make that hundreds and thousands of people — would choose to live a life that can be so full of pain and intolerance?
One of the best and most moving accounts I have read about the issue of transgenderism is from a letter from a mom to her son. Before we rush to judge, I wish we all would just spend a little more time learning about the things that make us uncomfortable or issues we aren’t completely familiar with.
My intent is not to offend anyone with this post, but only to express my dissatisfaction with the way that we treat each other. I am not immune to this type of behavior and for that reason I am also participating in this challenge.
Try, just for today, to be about the love.
P.S. I am aware of the irony of this post. To draw attention to and potentially judge those who judge others based on what they think is right. I admit that I struggle with this paradox and for now the only justification I can come up with is the fact that I have seen so much more growth and happiness from love than I have from hate. To me, the benefits of a world free from judgement, shame, and hate is a much brighter one.