Of course Black Lives Matter. White Lives Matter. Asian Lives Matter. LGTBQIA Live Matter. Blue Lives Matter. They are all human and by virtue of that fact, they have an inherent dignity. No one can take that away from them. What can happen is that people deny them that dignity. They see their body as all they are, while ignoring the part that makes them a human being: their soul or essence; their humanity. None of these people are diminished by their race, religion, sexual orientation or occupation. None are elevated to unassailable heights because of their race, religion, sexual orientation or occupation, either. Humans are vain, wonderful, flawed, and beautiful, but most of all, they are human; with all the pitfalls and virtues inherent in that word.
We’ve seen far too often what happens when someone looks at another human being and decides they have no worth, no dignity, no value: Death, pain, anger, and an endless spiral of blame. And then the circle of violence begins again. There seems to be no end to the violence we can perpetrate on each other. White on black, black on white, white on white, black on black. Sure, we feel strongly about our stances, values and opinions, but do we really really think those stances, values and opinions are more important than someone’s life? Yes, there are people who think that, but am I alone in hoping they are the very tiny fraction of a minority?
So, how can we get to the place where we can say that ALL lives matter: black, white, Asian, Hispanic, gay, lesbian, transgender? How do we come to the point where we can look at someone with whom we disagree and say, ‘no, I don’t agree with the things you do or say, but I recognize your right to life’? Thomas Jefferson wrote that ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’. But are these ‘truths’ truly self-evident? Not if we look at each other as the enemy and think ‘well, better you than me’. Life is short and precious and, for all we know, we’re alone in the universe. So why can’t we see each other as allies, instead of the ‘other’?
The problem? Diversity is hard. What is easy is insulating yourself from the world around you so nothing challenges you. Because challenges are hard. It’s not easy to allow someone who thinks differently from you to stretch your thinking. This goes for everyone. Isolating yourself from anyone who is different is easy. It’s safe. But it’s not right. Finding out someone else’s story forces you to utilize your sympathy and empathy. It challenges those ideas you felt were unassailable and right, no questions asked.
Change can only come when we recognize and honor that humanity in others; when the dirty, barefoot, inadequately fed and clothed child sitting in the slums of whichever Third World country is as deserving of life and liberty as the richest billionaire in the world.