Have you ever sat back and thought about how cruel we and our fellow humans can be? How are we capable of such hatred towards fellow mankind? Who are we to determine who is and who is not worthy of the reciprocation of human decency? This is a very horrific and scary time in our country, with all of the hatred, division, cruelty, and ultimate lack of love and respect for others.
My husband Nathan and I were wandering around Hilo (Hawaii) while on vacation, and happened upon a local restaurant that was absolutely packed. Pineapples – Island Fresh Cuisine. We figured if it was that crowded, it must be pretty good. While we were waiting for a table, I started to notice that there were a lot of people, men and women, wearing tutus. Some had body paint. Some were wearing funky wigs. I looked at a sign posting the specials for the day, and noticed that they all started with “rainbow.” I looked at Nathan, chuckled, and asked “um, is this a gay bar?” He laughed and said he was wondering the same thing. When we got to our table, an insert in the menu provided clarification. We began to notice “we are Orlando” flyers everywhere, and the menu insert stated that it was gay pride day, in order to show support for Orlando after the horrific shooting at the gay club several weeks ago.
“Ohhhhhhhh.” Nathan and I both said it at the same time.
We took another scan of the restaurant. Everyone was happy, obviously immensely enjoying themselves. The playlist for that day was apparently created specifically for that event (we overheard a waitress explaining), and everyone was having a hard time not dancing in their chairs. Some people were dancing in their chairs. Everyone was having a great time. It was an awesome atmosphere. Upbeat, friendly, light-hearted. And the food and drinks were excellent, as was the service.
At one point I asked Nathan if he was okay, because he seemed a little tense. He assured me he was fine. We had a great time, and fully intended on coming back before leaving Hawaii.
On our drive home that evening, Nathan and I talked about how much we liked the restaurant, and how we wanted to go back. But then the conversation took an unfortunate turn, due to the sad, cruel reality of the current state of our country. Nathan admitted he was tense during our time at the restaurant because he had the unfortunate realization that if there was going to be a shooting, bombing, or any kind of act of violence in Hilo that day, it would have been at that restaurant. Because that restaurant was honoring the victims of a shooting. Because those victims were at a gay club. Because those victims were gay. Because someone had a different belief system and lifestyle than fellow human beings, and that resulted in human life being lost in a horrific and tragic act of terror.
That particular restaurant, that particular day, would have been the target of a violent act, because humans are incapable of putting their differences aside and just loving each other. The restaurant was hosting an event to show support to a group of people that was greatly and horrifically wronged, and by doing so, they essentially put a target on their backs.
When did we start looking at fellow human beings and considering them something other than a fellow human being? When did a difference in lifestyle or belief system become reason to harm others, to slaughter others? How did we get to this place? When did providing freedoms to fellow human beings become so controversial? When did the solution to overcoming our differences become to murder those we disagree with?
Okay, so maybe all of those things have always been present. If we take a look at history, we will see that really, we haven’t progressed quite as far as we would like to think we have. We are very privileged to live in America. The land of the free, the home of the brave. Our nation is built upon the principle that every individual should have the right to freedom. We have come a long way considering were we came from. People can’t own people anymore. Women can vote. Homosexuals can legally marry. All of these things are steps towards equality amongst everyone.
So when exactly do we suddenly have the right to determine who is and who isn’t deserving of equality, or freedom, or in the case of the Orlando shooting, who deserves to live, based on the simple fact of a differing belief system? When did freedom of religion turn into freedom to hate those who do not believe the same things we do?
I’m not saying if we disagree with each other we will turn into extremists who go around killing everyone we disagree with. Part of what makes America so great is our freedom to disagree, our freedom of speech, our freedom of religion. But I am saying that it makes me very sad that there is hatred in our hearts, and that we somehow have determined that we have the right to hurt others. We may not be hurting others in the same way the terrorist who murdered so many people at the gay club did. But we find cruel, yet more subtle ways to hurt each other. Our passive aggressive posts on social media demeaning someone for any reason – their body, their looks, their beliefs, their lifestyle, their clothing choices, anything. The mean look we give to someone on the street because of our assumptions about them based on what they are wearing. The comments we make under our breath when we drive past the homeless person on the street corner. The assumptions we make when we see a Muslim – do you not think that they are torn apart by the acts of extremists too? Have you ever had a conversation with a Muslim about what is portrayed on the news due to the heinous acts of Islamic terrorists? I have. The woman I spoke with was absolutely distraught because her Islamic beliefs are not represented in the actions of terrorists. Just because she falls under the same label of “Muslim” does not mean that she is in agreement with all others who fall under the same label. She was one of the sweetest women I have ever talked to, and she was absolutely devastated, the same as you and me, about the demoralizing consequences that hatred is having on our fellow human beings.
The things we say to each other about other people – the cruelty of gossip has literally driven people to take their own lives. Why do we think it is okay to hurt people? Why do we think it is okay to discriminate? Why do we think it is okay to use our freedoms to abuse others?
It is absolutely heartbreaking to come to the realization, while trying to enjoy a peaceful meal with your spouse, in a restaurant trying to show support for Orlando after a devastating act of terror, that the simple act of trying to show support to fellow human beings could be reason enough for someone to act violently towards those people, because of a difference in belief system.
This is not an issue of whether homosexuality is right or wrong, so don’t even go there.
Homosexuality is not the issue.
Humans thinking it is okay to harm others is the issue.
Individuals who think others don’t deserve to have rights (including the right to live) because they believe something that contradicts someone else’s life style, is the issue.
I am the issue. And you are the issue.
Anytime we choose not to consider another human being as important as ourselves, we are becoming part of the issue.
Every time you or I treat someone poorly, we become the issue.
What? They started it? Really? How horrible. Grow a pair and be kind, even when it’s hard. You don’t know their story (not that there is any justification for behavior that hurts people…but there are explanations that help us understand), just as they don’t know yours. Be kind, show love, and maybe you and someone else will learn something from it.
Fixing huge issues such as hatred towards homosexuals cannot be fixed by means of politics or laws. Fixing issues such as hatred towards other human beings starts with you, and it starts with me.
Let’s put our differences aside. Let’s learn to be kind, even when it’s hard or inconvenient.
Just love each other. If we all did that, think of where our world would be.
So, here is a shout out to Pineapples – Island Fresh Cuisine, for standing up and showing support to fellow human beings. Thanks for showing love. That’s what really matters.