(As an FYI, I also offer a biweekly column that appears in the Northcountry News. It is more regular and predictable [and more personal and local] [http://www.northcountrynewsnh.com/]. It’s on page 4 of each issue. Because of that (and lots of other “stuff” going on during this particularly busy stretch), I have started to neglect this once-weekly offering. I am not sure what kind of following I have here, if any, and if I do have one, I am not sure of what kinds of things they want to see. I have asked for feedback in the past, but by the response [or lack thereof] I have no idea. That said, I will still write here, but maybe on a more irregular schedule.)
I used to have a saying that drove me and my attitude: “Life is much too serious to take seriously.” It’s getting pretty hard not to. The news is getting worse and worse and more and more frequently appearing. One thing I tried to promote in school when I was teaching is to forget the labels. Yes, every group has its stereotypes, but I told my students to put the person before the label. While there are truly many shades of gray, basically people are either good or bad (yes, there are many in between, but in the bigger picture it’s often easy to tell). Just because they are a(n) (fill in the label), that doesn’t mean they are what the stereotype is. It should be such an easy concept to understand yet many people don’t. To condemn all (fill in the label) because they are (fill in the label) is simply wrong!
You know how all Blacks are lazy, all Jews are cheap, all Asians are sneaky, all Hispanics don’t speak English very well or not at all, Caucasians can’t dance, Irish are all drunks, Russians are violent, all Italians are stylish and sophisticated and are usually painters, sculptors or fashion designers, Germans are Nazis or fascists, all Native Americans love to gamble, all Middle easterners hate America, all people of Netherlands are all promiscuous and drug addicts, all Italians are mobsters or have links to the mob, and all white people are all racist. There are dozens and dozens more that could be included, but you get the idea. Yes, there are individuals who fit the stereotype, but they are individuals.
The key word above, of course, is ‘all.’ If you don’t get what I am trying to say by now, you probably never will. In all honesty, I do not ‘celebrate’ diversity, but nor do I condemn it. I would venture to say I have friends from pretty much every defined group (except ISIS – they may be the exception to what I am saying here). Usually, if someone is my friend, it is because s/he is a basically good person. If I don’t like someone, it doesn’t mean I dislike them – both are active states. They are just there, and I accept that they are another fellow human being struggling as I am just to get by another day.
Once a teacher, always a teacher which is why I am offering this now. There was another horrible tragedy in the news overnight. At least fifty people died apparently because the shooter hated gays. Fifty people died, not fifty gays.
I miss my classroom discussions and hope I did some good along the way.
Do with this what you will.