Imagine we’re at a picnic and we come across a discussion about short people.
Person A: Short people got no reason to live. They got little hands and little eyes and they walk around tellin’ great big lies. Don’t want no short people ’round here.
Person B: There’s nothing wrong with short people. They just need a little more help than the rest of us. And I don’t think all of them lie. After all, all men are brothers until the day they die.
Person A: I don’t have any brothers. Besides, short people got little noses and tiny little teeth and they wear platform shoes on their nasty little feet. Short people got no reason to live.
Person B: No, no. You’ve got it all wrong. We’ll send them to dentists and have their teeth enlarged. And we’ll make it mandatory for stores to put steps in front of all the shelves so short people won’t be discriminated against. As for nasty feet, they just need to be taught how to wash them.
Me: Hey, I’m short and except for my height, I’m just the same as you. I’ve been grocery shopping for years and I really don’t think mandatory steps are necessary. As for my feet. You’re way off there. I pumice, moisturize and polish them. They are very presentable, in spite of the platforms.
Person B: Wow, a short person. I’ve never met one before.
Person A: I’ve never been this close to one. See. She does have little baby legs. Don’t want no short people ’round here.
Person B: Yes, the baby legs are exactly the reason for the mandatory steps.
Have you ever been judged without being given the opportunity to explain or defend yourself? It happened to me the other day. I read that I, Dawne Webber, believe, among other heinous things, that members of a certain group of people should be killed. Well, my name wasn’t used, but every member of a group that I belong to was accused, so my name could have just as easily been substituted.
Your name could be substituted as well, because no matter what group in society that you belong to– homosexuals, Christians, Muslims, Jews, rich, poor, man, woman, young, old–others are judging you and your group without having ever had a conversation with you or anyone in your group. The people concerned are getting talked over not talked with.
Take abortion for example. Everyone has a belief concerning it. What side of the fence you’re on is irrelevant to the point of this post. What is relevant is that the persons affected have gotten lost in the rhetoric. And the rhetoric has become so cliche that neither side listens to the other anymore.
I wonder how many of us on either side have ever talked to a woman who has had an abortion, a woman in a crisis pregnancy situation, or a person who has survived an abortion? I’ve been in social situations in which abortion is hotly debated. The people involved in the debate gave no thought to the fact that given the statistics, at least one woman at this social gathering has personally experienced abortion or is currently facing that decision.
I’ve had friends whose lives have been intimately affected by abortion, experience situations like this and will never forget the pain caused by advocates of both sides of the argument, who are so intent on being right and winning the argument, they forget that real, fragile, human beings are involved.