When I think about discrimination in the U.S., I am nothing short of astonished by how much of it there is. It is astonishing that people have had the audacity to believe that they are better than others because of their race, sexuality, gender, or religion. So many people have been judged and held back because of these reasons alone. It is not only unfair to the people of America, but to the people of the entire world as well.
America is a powerful country, and very influential. It was founded on the most basic of principles, that all men are equal and deserve happiness. Why was it, then, that these moral values did not stand up to slavery? Oh, but slavery has ended. So why did these morals not hold firm when the Native Americans were forced from their land? Oh, but they were given new land. And why did these morals stay quiet while women were expected to do the same? Oh, but women were given the right to vote, eventually. If America is supposed to provide the example that lesser countries should follow, then it is not a wonder that some countries are far behind.
I once heard a story told by an elderly man. When he was eight years old, he would spend much time with his grandfather, who was an immigrant. They often went to the park together. During one of these visits, he was sitting with his grandfather on a bench. Suddenly his grandfather turned to him quietly.
-John, do you see the man sitting on that bench?
John glanced at the man sitting on the bench across from them.
-Yes, I see him, Grandpa. What about him?
-I do not like this man. Do not talk to him.
Confused, John looked again. The man was feeding the birds.
-Why not, Grandpa?
-I just don’t trust him.
-But why not?
-Yes. They are blue.
John could not believe what he was hearing. They argued for some time about why it was wrong to have blue eyes, but his grandfather would not give him any real answers. Finally he became fed up.
-Grandpa, this is crazy!
As soon as his words were out, his grandfather looked at him very seriously.
-Yes, John, it is crazy. Don’t ever treat another person badly because they are different from you, understand? And don’t ever let someone else do the same to you.
I enjoyed this story immensely. If only people had thought like his grandfather in the 1800’s, how different this country would have been.
Jane Addams was the first woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. Barack Obama is the first African American to ever have been elected as the president of the United States of America. Ellen DeGeneres, a lesbian, is a successful and widely known comedian.
But why does it matter that Addams was the first woman, or that Obama is the first African American, or that Ellen is a lesbian? The answer is that it does not and should not matter. Yet so much attention is paid to those facts as a result from the long journey of discrimination that America has gone through. If everyone had truly been given equality, then who is to say that America could not have had multiple African American presidents by now? Much more would have been made possible if people had chosen to accept others for the way that they are.
So don’t tell me that Jane Addams was the first woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize; tell me if she was a good person. Don’t tell me that Barack Obama is the first African American president elect; tell me whether or not he is the right man for the job. And don’t tell me that Ellen is a lesbian; tell me if she is a good entertainer.
Yes, America has made some progress in stopping discrimination, but there is still such a long way to go. “God does not presume to judge a man until he is dead, so why should you?” (Unknown)
This I believe.