A lesson in acceptance and how simple it really is
“Love is the absence of judgement.”
Acceptance. It’s a hard pill to swallow. Whether it’s others, our circumstances, or ourselves; all forms of acceptance can be tough. I believe the hardest form of acceptance is self-acceptance, especially when you feel judged for nothing other than being who you are. As the U.S becomes the 21st country to legalise gay marriage, I wonder how long it will be before we look back at this basic human rights issue the same way we do about African-American and Aboriginal rights. To me, it’s as simple as the exercise my teacher had our class do in Year 1.
I went to a small primary school; there were just 14 kids in my class. It was just before lunch and we were all itching to get outside to the playground. The teacher asked the class to stand up from our desks, which we did. She then asked all the students with brown eyes to sit down. They did. Mine are blue, so I remained standing. The teacher asked the brown-eyed children how they would feel if she told them that the blue- and green-eyed students could go outside for lunch but they – the brown-eyed students – had to stay inside. I remember looking around the room at the brown-eyed kids in their seats and thinking, “I am so happy that I have blue eyes!”
The teacher then asked the blue-and green-eyed students to imagine if we were told that we could never talk to the brown-eyed students again. As a six-year-old, I was a little confused. I thought: “But why would I do that?” My best friend had green eyes, so I still had someone to play with, but I liked the kids who had brown eyes too. My teacher was the teacher, so we had to do as we were told, but I couldn’t help feeling that it wasn’t right. It made no sense.
I looked around the room again. Some kids looked as perplexed as me; others looked anxious and cheated; and some looked amused, like they were part of a game and even though they didn’t know the rules, all that mattered was that they were on the winning side. The teacher told us that people are sometimes mean to other people and won’t allow them to join in based on silly little things. She told us that people are people and no one should be made to feel like they were less than anyone else because of things they have no control over.
While the moral of my teacher’s story was to be accepting and not to judge others, at this point in our history, I have to catch myself from judging those who don’t see the inequalities in the same-sex marriage debate.
I don’t mean to dumb down an incredibly sensitive issue, but why do we have to overcomplicate things? We live in an incredibly diverse world and every one of us is unique. Still, in the end, people are people. Everyone deserves equal rights. Same-sex marriage is only one of many inequality issues, but I believe the acceptance of an individual can have ripple effects beyond our comprehension. Particularly when everyone has such a hard time accepting themselves for who they are.
You are who you are and you love who you love. You either have brown eyes or you don’t. No one has the right to judge you for it. Be you. Be your true, authentic self because the people who mind don’t matter and the people that matter don’t mind. I’m glad we’re one step closer to greater equality across the world. While there is still a long way to go, particularly in some less progressive countries, it’s undeniable the ripple effect that one decision at a time is making.