Whenever I visit Toronto I find it hugely tiring. The people, the buildings, the transportation, are all quite overwhelming. Especially coming from a small community of 40,000 people, if you don’t count the surrounding communities. But I go whenever I can to spend time with my daughter. She’s gotten used to the hustle and bustle of the city. In fact, she loves it there. And she’s met many different types of people whom she calls friends, and she’s learned that they are all people who live, and love, and want to live and be loved in return.
“OUR DIFFERENCES MAKE US STRONG” THESE SHOULD NOT BE JUST WORDS:
I’ve always believed myself to be open-minded about our differences — at least in theory. But something happened to me on this particular visit that shamed me. It started out as a little thing, but grew into something quite important. While we were riding around on the trackless train in High Park, there was a small child sitting in front of us that I found fascinating. He/she had long hair, but that’s not the only thing I wondered about. This child seemed so wise and intelligent – older than their years would suggest. Out of curiosity, I asked my daughter if she thought it was a boy or a girl. And she said, “Does it matter?” I tried to explain myself, but she insisted, “It didn’t matter whether it was a boy or a girl.” I was hurt by here assumption that it mattered to me. But what really hit me was I started to question whether it did really matter to me whether this child was a boy or girl.
LET’S ALL WALK HAND IN HAND:
Wandering around the park, I saw two men walking hand in hand. That’s something I’ve never seen in the world that I live in every day. I saw young women with tattoos all over their body. I saw people dressed in Avant Guard styles with pink or purple hair, and no-one seems to care. It made me wonder why I even bothered to do my hair, and fix my makeup before I went out the door, so I’d look presentable. It didn’t seem to matter. The world if full of many different types of people. Not only are there different cultural, religious and races, but also different sexual orientations as well. Same sex marriages, bisexuals, cross dressers, open marriages, and those who have neither sexual orientation. All make up the soup pot of our existence. And, I have to admit, it’s all a little scary if you’re not used to it. I began to understand why people are sometimes so fearful of our differences. I mean, it has been so ingrained in us that we are defined by whether or not we are a man or a woman; what color our skin is; what part of the world we come from, and so on. Once we know this, we know what role we must play in the world. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like not to know my sexual identity. “You’d be a person,” my daughter said. That begs the question: What does it mean to be a person? I thought I knew, but not anymore. Then I began to wonders what it would be like to not fit into any of the traditional roles? Does that mean that our lives are any less important?
IT TAKES WORK:
I’m ashamed to say that this was in question for me. I talked the talk, but I wasn’t walking the walk. It was an eye-opening moment. My daughter had challenged me to go beyond my small world thinking. And I wanted her to be proud of me. “It takes work,” my daughter said. “You have to want to understand.” Then I knew there was hope for me, because I really do want to understand what makes us all tick. That’s always been a thing of interest to me. And perhaps that’s why I was so interested in the young child with the long hair in the first place.
We all have to live in this world together, and it seems that fighting each other, as we’ve been doing for centuries, has met with very poor results. Perhaps it’s time to try another approach. How about: Understanding, acceptance, and love.