So much prejudice and discrimination in our society is based on ignorance. People act badly towards others because they are different from themselves, they do not understand the differences and they feel threatened by them. The answer to this is education.
This won’t work for everyone – some people seem determined to hate – but I believe that most people are decent and reasonable at heart.
My own interest is raising awareness and understanding of autism and mental health issues. Yesterday I met the parent of an autistic child who has a wonderful card that he gives to people who act judgementally when his child has a meltdown in public. The card explains the basics of autism and that this behaviour is not just a case of appalling parenting, as many seem so quick to assume. I thought this was brilliant and I would love to see the looks on the faces of those who are given them.
We all judge far too much, myself included. None of us are better than anyone else, we are just different with different values and priorities. Obviously we think ours are the right ones, that’s why we have them. But actually as long as nobody is being hurt or damaged, all are equally valid.
Rather than judging and disapproving, we all need to work harder to understand each other. We are all on journeys, we are all damaged and we can all get very defensive when the right buttons are pushed.
This doesn’t mean that all behaviour is acceptable. There are basic standards of decent behaviour. But beyond that there is plenty of scope. Don’t be scared of differences, try and learn about them and the reasons behind them. We all have a lot to learn.