Differences

On the whole, this blog is about my writing and connected subjects. However, sometimes things come along that have nothing to do with that but are to do with me and who I am. This is one of those…

Why are so many people around the world scared of others who are in some way “different” to them? I am a white, heterosexual, clinically depressed, fat male atheist and, as such, have been fortunate that in my life the only prejudices I have had aimed at me have been the apparently acceptable ones about my mental health and about weight (like being called ‘a fat cunt’ by a complete stranger on the way into Sainsburys a short while ago) – perhaps surprisingly I have not been attacked over my atheism yet… it may happen. But I do not feel threatened by people whose beliefs are different to mine, or whose skin is a different colour to mine, or who dress or speak differently, or whose sexual preferences are different to mine or, for that matter, who are thin. I do feel threatened by men who look like they’ve just come from the gym because I’m expecting them to comment on my fat (not that there’s any law against that of course), but that’s my problem not theirs (unless they DO say something in which case they are dicks!). My mother was a strong Catholic but I always remember her saying, during the fiasco that was the demonstrations against Life Of Brian when it came out, that if those people’s faith was threatened by a film then their faith must not be very strong (as an aside she did eventually watch Life Of Brian with me and thoroughly enjoyed it, but then my mum was what every religious person should be – strong in their own beliefs and completely tolerant of the belief – or lack – of others. She would also not let her beliefs get in the way of a good laugh!).

Every day, somewhere in the world, there are news stories of people being persecuted, even killed, for simply being different in some way than the person or people persecuting them. Why? It makes no sense to me. Are all these people scared, somehow threatened, by someone not being the same as them? Are they so insecure in themselves that they have to take it out on others? What’s wrong with just saying you disagree with a person’s belief, lifestyle, sexual preference or whatever but then letting them get on with it? And when I say disagree I don’t mean shout or insult or threaten, I mean simply say “I don’t personally agree with you”. Agree to disagree. It’s a cliche but it makes sense. I know that my mother did not agree with my personal lack of belief in god. I know that she would pray each night that I might change and return to the religion she so strongly believed in. But I also know that she never once tried to persuade me to change, or in any way criticised me for my personal belief. She could also never understand the hate directed at gay people or people of another race. I’m not saying she was perfect by any means, and I’m sure she had her own prejudices as we all do inside, but she recognised them for what they were and remained always tolerant of others in her daily dealings with them. I try to be the same myself. I know there are prejudices that lurk inside me and can threaten to surface at times (especially when my depression beats me down) but I also know how unreasonable those thoughts are and try and make sure they never surface, because they are wrong and I know it. They are a problem with me, not with those they might be directed towards. Without wishing to sound conceited, I think that the people who don’t suppress those thoughts are weak and, in the majority of cases, pathetic. But that doesn’t make them any the less dangerous.

So, what does all this rambling mean? Basically I think I’m just saying stop getting hung up on how other people might be different to you in some way, whether it be looks, beliefs, sexual preferences or whatever. People are different. That’s how it should be. The world would be a boring place if we were all clones of one another. Be tolerant, accept others’ differences and, if you can’t do that, at least do the rest of us a favour and shut the fuck up!

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