…We hold these truths…
Here’s the thing…there is nothing wrong with being proud of who you are, your heritage, your history, your skin color, your culture, no matter who you are (well, unless that history/culture/etc gives you reason to not be proud, as much of America is doing now). I don’t care what color you are, what gender, what orientation, gender expression, religion, nationality, etc you happen to be. Go ahead, be proud. Go you.
However, when you translate that pride into needing to put all others (or any others really) down in order to maintain that pride, you overstep, you needlessly create the climate of Us vs THEM.
You can be proud of who you are without denigrating others. You can be a proud, straight, white, Christian man without stepping on the proud, gay, black Atheist man. You can be a proud, married Christian woman without denying the same pride to the single mother of mixed race children.
Your happiness, your success, your pride is NOT reliant on someone else’s misery, or failure or abject terror to simply walk out the door. We have to stop casting ourselves in a conflict that shouldn’t exist. That wouldn’t exist if we would walk away from it.
We have real problems right now. We have a race problem. We have a class problem. We have an equality problem. I believe in equality for all. Without exception. I believe we all have a right to be who we are, to not be afraid to go to the pool on a hot summer day or walk through a neighborhood or go to church, to marry whomever we love, to raise our families according to what we believe.
The Declaration of Independence, the document that launched our fight to become the nation we have become says, “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.”
All men. It doesn’t say only straight, white Christian men with money. It doesn’t say just the men we like. It doesn’t even say just our citizens or just free men or just anything. It says all. All men are created equal. ALL.
So, go ahead, be proud all you want. But don’t be a racist. Don’t be religionist. Don’t be genderist. Don’t use your pride like a weapon. Your pride is for you. Your pride supports you. It doesn’t have to tear everyone else down.
I want to challenge you to try something new. I challenge you to stop attacking, put down the sword you’ve carved out of fear and hatred and set aside your pride for a moment. Sit down with someone different, someone you feel is attacking your right to pride in who you are. Talk to them, listen to them. Live as they live, feel what they feel. You might discover that what you’ve been mistaking as an attack on you is nothing more than someone trying to stand up under the weight of your pride dressed in bigotry and suppression.
There is room for all of us. Rather than using your pride in who you are to keep others down, use it to create a platform, use it to pull those others up, Remember, we are all created equal at birth. It sin’t birth that divides us, it’s us. And only together can we find our way back to equal.