Differences Or Not

Differences… Or Not

We live in an amazing time. Or do we?

This is certainly an amazing time to be an American if you’re “different.” Not only are you tolerated, you’re encouraged, and in some cases hailed as “heroic.”

For the purpose of this exercise we’re going to define “different,” as “distinct, and not of the same as most.” I like the word “different,” because it’s more inclusive than “abnormal,” even though technically that would be correct as well.

So let’s take a moment to look at things that are “different,” and that are encouraged or embraced, knowing that many of these things I view as wonderful examples of progress and societal growth:

  • If you’re gay, you are accepted by most according to all polls, even though no study in the country has ever shown a population percentage for homosexuals above 10 (and most say 6%).

  • If you’re a transgender person, you are encouraged by many and viewed as heroic by some. You’re not yet “accepted,” on a mass scale but it’s never been a better time to be a transgender person.

  • If you’re a female pilot (only 6% of said profession) you’re encouraged. Although a recent survey showed that a majority of travelers don’t trust you. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2486905/Air-travellers-dont-trust-female-pilots-Survey-finds-prefer-man-controls.html

  • Similarly, if you’re a male nurse, formerly an instantly mocked career choice, you are now accepted widely.

  • If you’re a man who wants to wear make-up or carry a purse, you’re told publicly that you’re welcome to do so, there’s nothing with it, and you are brave.

  • If you’re a woman who wants to play a traditionally “male” sport like football or baseball, you are encouraged and called brave as you embark on breaking another glass ceiling.

  • In America, if you are any practicing religion, you are in the minority. All forms of worship are at an all-time low in our nation’s history. Within that world, however, you are definitely different in America if you’re not a Christian, and you are encouraged to be so and are often vocally defended.

Much of that is good, right? Differences are embraced and encouraged, which is the only way we can learn more. But, what of other differences that seem to not be embraced, even though they fall under the same heading?

  • If you’re an African American who identifies politically as a “conservative,” or a “Republican,” you are definitely “different,” and you are not encouraged or hailed as brave, in fact you are usually called a sell-out or, worse, an “Uncle Tom.”

  • Speaking of African Americans, within their community, it is sadly “different,” if you are part of the upper 10% of earners in America and, you are summarily mocked by others within that culture for being a “white sell-out,” particularly if you happen to speak a “certain way.”

  • If you’re a farmer, you make up 2% of the entire population of America. For being that different, you’re hailed as a “redneck,” and a “hick,” and roundly mocked, despite your massive contribution to American’s day-to-day lives. http://www.fb.org/newsroom/fast-facts

  • If you voted for president Trump, you were in the minority and, if you believe polls, if you believe he’s doing a good job, you’re waaayyyy in the minority. But are you encouraged to defend him or state why you think he’s doing a good job? Quite the opposite.

  • If you wear your Christianity on your sleeve, go to church regularly, and proclaim your love of Christ, you’re a punchline. Only 33% of Christian Americans practice their faith in the way I just described, so you’re different, even in a nation that believes it’s a Judeo-Christian based system (A provably untrue sentiment, but that’s for another time)

  • What if you don’t believe in White privilege? Good luck with that.

And perhaps the biggest difference of them all: What if you have the audacity to have an opinion that is different from what we’re told is the “proper one?” Think about that for a minute; we’re told every day to embrace differences, yet we are never told that opinions that differ from the narrative are acceptable. You simply can’t be against gay-marriage (homophobe), in favor of drinking alcohol in moderation while pregnant (ignorant child hater), not believe in Climate change denier), openly spank your children (child abuser), or call for English as the official language of America (bigot).

Seriously, other than guns, abortion, and immigration, name other major issues where we are allowed to have our vastly different opinions and not, for the most part, be pilloried? And the only reason those topics live on is that the NRA is as powerful as the anti-gun crowd and the Pro-life movement is as powerful and the pro-choice crowd. As for immigration, the majority of the nation (70% in all polls) want increased border security. Because of that large number, the vocal minority is having a hard time “winning.” For now.

Differences, of course, are what makes us all special and unique. To encourage some of us to embrace our differences while telling others that their differences in opinion over those very differences is the antithesis of what our society is built upon and what has made us the beacon of the world since our inception. Continuing down the road will lead to future citizens of the world contemplate the greatness of America and ultimately conclude by saying “Eh, what’s the difference?”

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