Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Being Me

Why do people insist that I be different so that they can be more comfortable? It's as if my personality, my behaviour, my way of being is bad, and they are the arbitrators of bad and good. They seem to think that their way is the right way, and my way is the wrong way. What really irks me is when they get angry if I don't conform to their way of thinking and acting.

It happens a lot, not just to me but to all of us. We are constantly bombarded with media messages and personal signals that tell us we are inadequate, unworthy, unlovable. We hear it from our social institutions, that we must conform to a code of behaviour, a way of action which makes others feel comfortable, as if their right to feel comfort, to not be offended, supersedes my right to be myself, to be who and what I am.

By no means am I suggesting we have a right to be rude. In all things there should be a boundary of politeness. That boundary should go both ways. If you don't like how I look, don't look at me. If you don't like how I behave in my own home, don't come to visit me. If you don't like what I eat, don't eat it. Don't sneer at me because I sleep until noon. Don't get angry with me because I stay up late. Don't point at me because I am in a wheelchair. I am who and what I am, nothing more, nothing less.

If you see someone in a hijab, judge not the hijab but the actions of the person wearing it. If you see someone in a dirty shirt, judge not that they have a different perception of clean, just don't sit with them in the eating area, or better yet, see if you can get past the shirt to see the man underneath. If you see a dark-skinned man with a beard, don't think "terrorist", think "Jesus", or better yet, think about what their life must be like, and watch for what kind of person they are.

Don't judge based on your view of who I should be. I reserve the right to believe what I believe, even if it differs from what you believe. I reserve the right, and freedom, to be an individual. I reserve the right to have opinions which differ, approaches which differ, responses which differ. I reserve the right to make mistakes and errors, to try only to fail, to not see what you see, to not hear what you hear. I reserve the right to be me, flaws and all.

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