We are all the same.
We seek love. We honor life. We desire safety. You and I may have different ideas about what love is; but we all seek it- consciously, or subconsciously. I may honor life one way, and you another. Different things may make us feel safe. Maybe sky-diving makes you feel safe, because you find safety in freedom and excitement. If your neighbor Joe Blow is a sex addict, that may be how he is subconsciously seeking love. Your niece may honor life by being a vegetarian, someone else may honor life by attending anti-abortion rallies. You may disagree with many people; but they are likely trying to achieve the same things you are: finding love, honoring life, and feeling safe.
No matter how different we are from someone else, we are really never so different. We spend far to much time exploring our differences, and not nearly enough time exploring our similarities.
"Embrace a diversity of ideas. Embrace the fact that you can disagree with people and not be disagreeable. Embrace the fact that you can find common ground - if you disagree on nine out of 10 things, but can find common ground on that 10th, maybe you can make progress. If you can find common ground, you can accomplish great things." -David Boies
Embracing diversity comes more naturally to some than it does for others; and although this is a bit nature and nurture, I believe this quality lies mostly in nature. I wasn't particularly nurtured to embrace diversity; but it was always something which came very naturally to me. This, by no means, makes me special. There are plenty of things that did not come naturally to me, like the ability focus on one thing, or grace, or remembering to get toilet paper on the way home. Although being naturally tolerant doesn’t make one more special, it does make them more capable of inspiring others to be tolerant as well.
People often pick and choose what diversity they will embrace:
I will embrace different ethnicities...except immigrants, Middle-Easterns, or the Dutch....
I will embrace people with disabilities...unless they cost me money...and from a distance...
I will embrace people of differing religions...as long as they stay the HELL away from me...
I embrace diversity; but not actually, because I don't like people who aren't like me.
Discrimination comes from a place of fear: the fear that one's idea of love will be compromised, the fear that one's way of life will be compromised, and the fear that one's safety will be compromised. The human sense of self is prolifically weak. Many people's personal fortitude is brittle, and cannot withstand the presence of others' who do not believe like them, think like them, or live like them. Many people cannot, or will not understand why other people are different; and have been raised to believe that one way of living is right, and that others are wrong. Right and wrong are subjective- they exist on a quickly sliding scale, sometimes violently colliding with things in it's path.
It is difficult for those who embrace diversity to understand why others do not. Our bleeding hearts grow tired and weary of hatred and discrimination; but therein lies prejudice in the bleeding hearts of the tolerant as well:
I practice tolerance for humanity...but I have no tolerance for the intolerant...
...then you are not practicing tolerance for humanity, because intolerant people are still people, they are part of humanity.
Racists, killers, zealots, crooked politicians, your co-worker who steals your lunch and hates transgenders...they are all people. They are all part of humanity. The definition of tolerance "the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with" doesn't have an "except for" or "but" at the end of it. Of course, tolerance and allowance are different actions. You can very well practice tolerance towards a racist, but not allow them to do you or others harm. Practicing tolerance towards the intolerant doesn’t mean you change what you believe, or stop advocating for what you think is right. Being tolerant doesn't mean you regularly throw house parties, and invite delusional religious groups to them. If the bleeding hearts (myself included) are asking, and trying to inspire discriminatory people to be tolerant- we owe it to them to offer them the same tolerance.
And. It's. Fucking. Hard. However, bleeding hearts share blood, we cannot bleed out; and if anyone can raise the bar for tolerance, it is us. It is only us.
Before I was alive, Martin Luther King Jr. marched for Black's rights, Susan B. Anthony was arrested for fighting for women's rights, and Helen Keller tirelessly campaigned for people with disabilities. In modern times, celebrities, politicians, and spiritual figures have crusaded for human rights, LGBTQ rights, tolerance, and love. We have reached a point in social history when it is time to take tolerance to a new level, and we aren't. The bleeding hearts now face our own prejudices, and must overcome them to make progress.
The tolerant have reached a stand still, and we have begun back-sliding into ridiculing people who are not like us. We have started to become...ugly. You may have noticed that society has reached a stand still also: government shut downs, cats games in politics, and even an ever so slight backwards movement into times less humane than we were living in just a few years ago. With all the protests and noise, one would assume we would be making progress; but the noise is not a vibration of love anymore, it is of fear: the fear that love will be compromised, the fear that people's way of life will be compromised, and the fear that people's safety will be compromised.
The bleeding hearts are afraid, and it’s creating a butterfly effect within society.
A lot of people could not see the reason for freeing slaves, fathom women's rights, understand equal rights for all races, conceive of same-sex marriage, or think about rights for people with disabilities until bleeding hearts paved the way. If the bleeding hearts weren't bleeding, we'd all be stuck in a George Orwell novel. Bleeding hearts are social pioneers, and there is a new frontier to be discovered. Coexistence. Yup, just like those lovely bumper stickers.
To attempt to inspire discriminatory, closed-minded people to reach a level of tolerance which surpasses the current level of people who have, are, and will continue to fight for tolerance, would be asinine. I'm not going to try to talk a gator shooting redneck who hates everyone but other gator shooting rednecks into raising the bar for tolerance; but I will ask you to.
It's not the time to be angry or fearful for our future, it is the time to start pioneering the way for a better future. Not everyone is a bleeding heart, not everyone can see all humans as humans; but we can...almost. We must accept those who do not think, believe, or live like us; and we must tolerate their points of view to move on to the next level of humanity. Within our hearts, we must find compassion for the discompassionate; and we must be willing to authentically listen to their points of view. Coexistance is the next step in humanity- we must learn to live, compromise, and delegate together in order to advance as a society.
I petition the bleeding hearts to start this movement. No one else would've fought to free the slaves. No one else would've fought to give women the vote. No one else would've fought to end segregation, for same-sex marriage, for the Dreamers, for mental health, for people with disabilities... No one else will fight for Coexistence. It is time for us to fight for everyone, for unity. I do not petition the bleeding hearts because we are special, or better than, or even responsible for the advancement of humankind; but because we are the only ones who can.
It is us. It is only us.