This post was written about a year ago – but posted today, when this issue has come up again in my son’s circle of friends.
Whenever someone tells me that our culture is old and rich, I shrug. Whenever someone tells me that we are a non-violent and satyagrahi country, it makes me want to puke. Whenever someone says that we are understanding ……. I look at them with disbelief. The fact is that we are racist, bigots and narrow minded.
I was surfing the net for some strength to face certain truths about myself…. and I came upon this, The Museum of Tolerance, and it brought tears into my eyes. I was quite complacent and proud of myself because I do not practise intolerance. Its a big step – since I was born and brought up a Jain. Jains grow up feeling that they are blessed, because after doing good karmas for many many lives, they get to be born a Jain, which is the best of the human race. We are almost divine – so our religion teaches us. And if we follow all the precepts of the religion, we will definitely attain moksha. Its pretty far out. Any way I am a lapsed Jain, a sinner, so I am not superior and will definitely undergo many more cycles of life. My live in help eats out of the same utensils we do, and I do not do things like get cheaper rice or stuff for him. Non vegetarian food is cooked and consumed in our home, yes even on a Tuesday – all days are the same for us. It does not matter to me what religion is being followed by my friends and loved ones.
So I thought I was tolerant – but am I? Kid#1 has a friend who is gay. He had never declared it – so we did not know. Apparently his younger sibling opened his mail box and snooped into his emails and private stuff and found out…… and told their parents. They live about two houses away. The parents did not take it well at all. The father actually slapped his son and told him “My son is dead for me”. The boy came to talk to me, for some emotional support. I said all the sympathetic things, but deep inside me was a feeling of relief that my son is not gay. I was actually happy that I did not have to face this. This is how tolerant I am. I think I have gone quite a few steps down in my own self-estimation.
One of my best male friends was gay and it did not bother me. He was the sweetest guy I knew. This friend of Kid#1 is a loving affectionate and polite boy. But when it came close to me and my family, it simply freaked me out. All men are created equal irrespective of caste, creed, colour, religion and sexual orientation. Yes I believe this and hate reading news about nuns being raped or Moslems being discriminated against.
The single most meaningful exhibit in this Museum building was the one dedicated to the civil rights movement – one of the most volatile and emotional periods in American history. A wall of large monitors at the exhibit reflects images and video from that period: African-American men and women being sprayed with fire hoses, hit with clubs, and hung from tree limbs by people who refused to believe all men are created equal. We as a country are too hypocritical and cowardly. We will bury this period somewhere deep and refuse to believe it ever happened …. and hope and pray that our children and loved ones do not force us to face our own narrow mindedness.
Today this issue came up again. The boy has been given an ultimatum – to either become “normal” or leave home. What is normal anyway? Why is homosexuality such a bad word? Why can’t we let these people co-exist peacefully – just because they are not like us? Who says heterosexuals make great members of the society or parents? Where is the outrage about the children who suffer as a result of divorce, infidelity, abuse, and other “crimes” perpetrated by heterosexual couples? Are we to believe that even those kids are better off than those who would be raised by two loving parents who happen to have the same plumbing? And why don’t I freak out so much on facing lesbians? Just because I have sons and not daughters?
I have no answers … I wonder if any one does?
Do read this on the same subject