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It's Pride month—everywhere we turn, we see it. Google, social media outlets, small and large businesses, we're all reminded with bright, vibrant colors. Now, I'm sure you have your own opinions on it, and more power to you! I believe one of the beautiful things about this country is that we have freedom,to believe what we want, practice what we want, and the right to pursue happiness! But over the years, I've noticed something a little concerning and disturbing. I've noticed some hypocrisy in our society, and it's time to bring it to light.
This is not an article specifically about my personal and religious beliefs, but I'd like to give some context, as well as make some things clear before I delve into what's on my heart right now. I am a Christian, and I've watched as Pride has grown and become a very large thing over the past couple decades. While my personal beliefs are unique and not exactly popular in society, I also believe in loving, respecting, and being kind to everybody, even when our beliefs are strongly different. Hence, even though my religious views do not line up with the theme of the month, I still have friends who live the Pride lifestyle in their own ways, and I'm not ashamed to have them as my friends. We disagree, but we are all open and honest, and we respect each other. And on a political level, I definitely believe consensual LGBTQ+ lifestyles should be legal—it is not the place of the government to tell us what is right or wrong in that area. It is a very personal decision. I don't believe in a government controlled by a certain religion or a belief system. Therefore, I don't expect or want the government to align the laws with my (or anybody else's) personal beliefs.
But what I'd like to talk about today is society and equality. Guys, I am a HUGE advocate of equality. Equality for all—for men and women, for heterosexuals and the LGTBQ+ community, for the old and the young, for the born and the unborn, for all the many, beautiful shades of skin, for all the extraordinary, broadly different and yet similar ways of living, for country and city, for cold and heat, for everything! I'm a supporter of both women and of men, and I wish amazing opportunities for us all. One of my favorite makeup artists is gay, and some of my other favorite artists and creators are in the LGBTQ+ community, while others still are straight. I have both straight and homosexual friends, friends who are more liberal or conservative politically, friends in various religions, and I love them equally. If you feel belittled in some way, I'm the one to come to for a pep talk and an equality boost. And in a nutshell, I just really want the best for everybody, everywhere. So when I see people in the world being hated and stereotyped and discriminated against, I don't care who you are, I don't care if our beliefs align or not, I'm definitely going to be your friend, and I will be there, standing for your rights and equality. Because we all deserve respect, kindness, and courtesy as fellow human beings. We all have a voice and need to be allowed to use it. We all have the right to decide and choose what we wish. We all have the right to speak out or stay silent as we see fit. And so when I look around society and see people being disrespected, hated against, and treated as lesser than others, I'm not okay with it. Who are these people who are being discriminated against? Who are getting death threats? Who are being shut down and silenced on social media? Well, actually, it's people like... you and me.
It's some of the Christians and Mormons and Muslims and Atheists and people of other religious and personal beliefs who do not agree with some of the views being talked about in society today, whether that's Pride/LGBTQ+ topics, or abortion, or religion, or something different all together. It is absolutely ridiculous that people of various beliefs feel the need to either apologize or follow up even the most gentle of statements with "I hope that's not offensive to you." You should not have to feel the need to hide your beliefs (I would encourage you to not hide your beliefs, no matter how much you may feel you "need" to—stand up for what you believe! It's my goal to do the same, even though it can be hard). I was recently in a discussion with a neighbor, we'll call him Drew, and we were sharing with each other books that have really moved us and motivated us to step up or make a change. One of my very favorite books to this day is Love Does by Bob Goff, and it's about life and Christ and, well, love. I was telling my neighbor about it, my eyes gleaming, and voice eager to express how much it helped me to take another look at the love of Christ and apply it to my life, when suddenly I stopped, my heart skipped a beat, and I found myself saying shyly, "Oh, it's a Christian book, I hope that's not offensive to you. I don't mean anything by it." Now, Drew is not a Christian, and we have very different religious, personal, and political beliefs, so his response surprised me strongly, and I'll never forget it—he rolled his eyes and chuckled, saying, "Oh man, don't worry about it! I think it's great, and that sounds like an amazing book! Isn't it crazy and dumb that we live in a day and age where people feel afraid to share their opinions and religious views? I think everybody just ought to be nice and willing to listen to everybody, just as long as people are polite and kind and all." Since then, he and my husband and I have chatted and shared opinions about religion, politics, personal struggles, thoughts about the world, life, and society, not infrequently disagreeing, and we always leave each other more built up and edified than when we started talking, often even complimenting each other as we open the door to our own apartments. But once we've gotten settled inside our dwellings, I see a very different world on social media, a much more unfeeling one, much harsher and unforgiving. I see people yelling at each other, slinging the strongest and meanest of vocabulary that I've ever seen, saying the most hateful, inhuman things to their fellow man. I walk into my workplace the next day, and realize that most of my coworkers don't agree with some of my views, and I don't know if I would be able to have a peaceful conversation with them, or if our differences would offend or trigger them. I look around me at the world, and I wonder if it'll be friendly today or not. I wonder if we'll be good to each other, or if more damage will be done.
I'd like to live in a world where open and honest friendships with people of different beliefs and lifestyles were common and the norm. Where somebody could kindly express an opinion online without getting called horrific names. Where people could share their beliefs that they hold dear without fear of persecution. Where people could practice their freedoms without receiving death threats later. Where people could have healthy, positive debates and discussions. Where sharing your religion and belief systems with others was respected and treated kindly instead of seen as an intrusion and problematic. Let's turn our world around—be kind and respectful to everybody, see all people as equal to you, nobody is more of a person or less of a person. And treat others as you'd want to be treated—that phrase is an oldie, but a goodie! If you want to tell your opinion, be willing to genuinely listen to other's opinions too. Be kind! Be like Drew!
Regardless of your thoughts and opinions about Pride month, let's take the opportunity to reflect on how we treat each other, how we listen, how we love our fellow man. Let's look inside and find areas within ourselves that we could improve—we all have them! Let's take a deep breath, start fresh, and carefully think before we react to people, especially if it's emotional for us. I know it's June and summer is in full force here in America, but let's all try to stay cool, and be that refreshing breath of air in society that we all need. Be what you want to see in the world—you won't regret it!