Monday, January 16, 2012

Light and Love Are Key

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

I have enjoyed that MLK quote for quite some time now, and I find it to be true. But is everything that the great Civil Rights leader want actually follow through? We are living in the 21st century now, and many people think that just because we have (somewhat) race and gender equality (everyone can vote, everyone can perform any job they want, etc. I know it's not perfect, but it's way ahead of King's time, which is a step in the right direction). 

But does EVERYONE have equal rights? Can people get married in every state if their sexual orientation is not “straight”? Do people think differently of homosexuals? Are they held back in nearly every aspect of life? They canNOT get married in most states. People DO judge them (daily and very loudly), and yes, they are held back from many opportunities. It’s NOT fair, and it IS prejudice, just like racial / gender discrimination. It’s NOT right, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be incredibly disappointed if he could see where we are today as a nation.

As a middle school teacher, I see so much hate. I hear sixth graders cussing at each other in the hallways and in the classrooms. I hear them calling each other and teachers horrible names. I hear the way they talk to their parents and how their parents talk to them, which is even worse. But the worst offenses I hear? The one I ALWAYS send them into the hallway for a personal conference for, every single time, no matter who they are? “You’re gay.” “That’s so gay.” “You faggot!” “Stop being gay.” Don’t be a fag!” I absolutely HATE when I hear kids using these words, and I always spend time talking to them individually in the hallway to make sure they UNDERSTAND why saying those things is NOT okay. Gay does NOT mean stupid. Just because someone disagrees with you does not make him a “faggot”. These kids don’t seem to understand it, but when I talk to them, they usually seem like they get the picture. But then the very next day, they are at it again!

What our society needs is more LIGHT to drive out the darkness and more LOVE to drive out the hate. I wish parents would do their part in raising their children responsibly. It sure would make my job infinitely easier. But until they do, I will relentlessly educate these children on the ways of the world and why some things are not appropriate to say. In the end, it’s worth the time out of my day. If I can reach just one child a day, my job is complete. 

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