Here’s a subject I will almost never attempt to tackle, whether verbally or in print, but it’s something I must mention. And mark these words carefully: I am a human being. This is the race/species to which I belong. I have always failed to understand it any other way. By the same token, you are a human being. You might have a different hair color than I do, or a different eye color. You might be taller, shorter, heavier, thinner (I doubt it), darker or lighter in skin tone. Your eyes may be shaped differently than mine, and your other facial features could vary as well.
But we’re still all human beings.
I’m not unaware of the ethnic hatred or suspicion that exists in our nation and others, but will never understand it. In fact, I’m more aware of it now than I’ve ever been.
Just a few days ago, I spoke with someone for whom I’ve always had a great deal of respect — someone who’s been a good friend to me for a long time. Now, that level of respect has dropped considerably. I hadn’t spoken at length with this person for many months. This time, though, I began to notice phrases and words that he/she used, words and phrases that were born out of a “racial” hatred. I couldn’t believe my ears. But thinking back, I realized it was my own ignorance that made me blind to it before. This person has always felt this way about people born into certain ethnic groups, and I just now noticed it.
Now, I realized he/she is against “mixed couples,” by which he/she meant marriages between two people of differing ethnic origins. He/she had complaints about a certain ethnic group “taking over” certain professional sports, and a different ethnic group “taking all our jobs.”
I was flabbergasted, and didn’t know what to say. So, I said, “What do you mean?” and asked him/her to explain his/her feelings and thoughts on the subject. There was (obviously) no logical basis for this person’s “reasoning” in these matters. He/she attempted to describe the negative consequences of the above “problems,” but all of them were based on feelings of dislike or hatred for certain groups of people.
Now I am in a quandary. This person and I have shared a thousand meaningful moments in our past. We were close friends, co-workers, roommates. I ask myself, “What is the right thing to do?” Should I continue to befriend him/her and attempt to change his/her mind? Should I cut off all contact?
One thing I absolutely will not do is treat this person like any less of a person, because one of my ideals is to treat everyone alike, regardless of their own level of ignorance. I will continue to give this person the level of respect and dignity to which every human being is entitled, in my way of thinking. But one thing is for sure: The level of closeness which I once knew with him/her has been seriously dismantled after just a few conversations.
It’s as if my eyes have finally been opened, and now I am fully seeing for the first time the amount of hatred and prejudice that exists around me. It’s disgusting, and I wish I could close my eyes again.