When I was 13 years old Monty Python released the movie "The Life of Brian". What a pain! All through my teenage years fans of the movie, and there were a lot in England, would walk up to me and shout " Brian, he's not the messiah he is a very naughty boy". (If you've not seen the movie you really should). Trust me on this after the tenth time it really isn't very funny.
The closing scene of the movie is the song " Always look on the bright side of life!" It's a noble aim and is analogous to the concept of the glass being half full instead of half empty. Always look for the positives instead of concentrating on the negatives.
Am I a glass half full or a glass half empty type of guy? I will admit that it's not something I've really given much thought to over the years. Is it OK to ignore the negatives and just celebrate the positives?
If I am honest with myself then the answer is "it depends". If it is something that I don't have particularly strong feelings on then I guess I tend to concentrate on the positives. BUT when I am passionate, engaged and involved then the negatives do seem to weigh heavily on me.
I believe that is healthy and honest.
My life dream was and still is to contribute to society to remove prejudice, discrimination and inequality. So I am not going to apologise if I get upset, angry and emotional when I see and/or experience discrimination.
It is discrimination if the person feels they are being discriminated against not because of who they are but because of what they are.
It is not something that society as a whole can sit down and proscribe a list of specific items, issues or incidents that are discriminatory. It is not for society to create a threshold of the number of people who are effected before action is taken. If just one person is effected because of what they are then that is discrimination and we should act to avoid it.
Remember not everything is visible. I should not have to drop into conversation that I am jewish to avoid someone making a comment about jews. I should not have to mention that someone close to me is disabled to avoid jokes about cripples. Yet I do - and am doing it now.
For me the mark of an open and equal society is not that we will never see or experience discrimination (that would be nirvana not reality) it is what we do to avoid the situation and how we respond when it does happen.
- Is it really a valid response to say "but someone else did it first". Does that absolve you of your discrimination? Of course it doesn't and yet people seem to think that it does.
- Is it really a valid response to say "well you never said it before". Does that absolve you of your discrimination? Of course it doesn't they might not have felt able, comfortable or safe to say it before.
- Is it really a valid response to say "well it only effects a small number of people". Does that absolve you of your discrimination? Of course it doesn't, it does not matter if it is one or one hundred.
- Is it really a valid response to say "wait and see if someone complains and then we will see if we can do something". Of course it isn't.
Sadly I have been told all of these things this week. So forgive me if I am sad, angry, depressed and emotional about it.
If we really believe in a society of equality then we should be proactive and not reactive.