More on my being wrong in a moment. First, I need you to watch a video. I’ll warn you now – it’s 30 minutes long. But this is where I give an impassioned plea: Take the time from your day – or your week – to watch this. It’s not just important to me…it’s important to millions of people around the world.
Another thing: Before you watch, try to forget – for at least 30 minutes – your political affiliation. Try your best to only think of yourself as a human. I know that can be tough for some, but critical thinking should be a part of life. Too often, we let stupid stuff get in our way of truly examining a topic and truly listening.
(Click here if the video isn’t showing up on this page.)
This speech made me realize that I was wrong. I’ve often thought and said something like, “If you don’t think gay people should be treated equally, move on.” But – as pointed out in this speech – that mindset gets us nowhere. People don’t evolve by avoiding an issue. People evolve by facing an issue head on – not with a bullying creed like “my way or the highway,” but through level-headed discourse.
Too often, we don’t actually intellectually and independently discuss issues in our society. We’re afraid to leave our “box.” We’re afraid to walk even a step in someone else’s shoes. Instead, we spout off talking points provided by our parents or political party or religion. Too often, we’re afraid to stray from the line we’ve chosen to stand on. Too often, we’re worried that – if we truly examine an issue – we may see it’s not all that complex, after all. And – perhaps even worse than that – we will realize we were wrong.
Growing up, I was taught a very specific set of principles. I was essentially told “this is the way it is and anyone who believes otherwise – even just a little bit – is wrong.” I was told I would be faced with people who believed other things. I was told these people were meant to tempt me, to test me and – ultimately – to turn me. I was told these people were immoral. I was told these people were wrong.
But – as I got older – I found a group of critical thinkers, willing to consider issues outside the confines of their culture. I found people willing to help others who were different from them. I found people willing to learn from each other. I found diversity. And I found beauty in it.
I also realized the same people telling me all of those negative things were changing the rules based on what suited them. And although they told me to trust my instinct when it encouraged their beliefs, they told me to ignore it when it didn’t.
Now, more and more people seem to realize that this world is bigger than their antiquated interpretation of how life should be lived. And, interestingly, even more people have realized that those very same principles that once guided them were bogged down by years of bureaucracy and bigotry and fear. They’ve realized those principles actually encourage acceptance and love.
Over and over again, I hear people framing my generation negatively. They say we think we’re entitled. They say we’re not willing to work. They say we’re too busy playing in the online world to successfully navigate the real world. I’ve echoed these sentiments before and perhaps it’s true…for some of us. But does each generation not struggle with finding its identity? Does each generation not have diversity? Does each generation not have those who – for whatever reasons – do not succeed?
I know what many people in my generation do have: Honesty. Compassion. Acceptance.
So I was wrong. I won’t get anywhere with my family or friends by being silent or avoiding the issue. And – as pointed out in this speech – we won’t get anywhere in this country or this world by simply creating laws and avoiding awkward conversations.
We move minds forward by talking. By listening. By understanding.
We move minds forward by removing our partisan blinders and reexamining our personal beliefs.
We move minds forward by being fearless.