Monday, October 4, 2010

Live and Let Live

I've had the story of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi on my mind this week. Human beings have the most uncanny ability to hone in on those we perceive to be "different" and thus somehow "inferior" or even a threat to our sense of security. And once we've pegged that person, we have to make some kind of statement about it so everyone else will know too.

What makes people think it's okay to do stuff like this to each other?

I posted Ellen Degeneres's tender response to Tyler's death along with that very question on my Facebook page, prompting this response from my friend, Ron Schoedel. In part, he says:

Being better than someone, anyone, feeds the ego in a way the natural man requires, which is--of course--the opposite of how we ought to be. . . [It] is the exact opposite of loving our neighbour. It is hating and fearing our neighbour.
On the other hand, following the principle of "live and let live" (or the golden rule, it could be called) precludes a person from feeling superior to others. When we can learn to be humble and realize that we are all equals, we are all God's children, and that each person has the unalienable right to chart their own course in life and discover their way (to the extent that they cause no harm to others), we will not feel the need to demonstrate why someone is less important, less valuable, or less "good" than ourselves . . .
(Emphasis mine.)

It's unbelievably sad to think the world had become so bleak for this bright young man and others like him that they couldn't see the path through it. I certainly hope that, growing up, I never did or said something to make anyone feel this way, even a little bit. But I guess I'll never know for sure. Nor is this only a function of adolescence. Adults are just as adept at picking out those who don't "fit the mold," whatever the mold may be.

At the end of the day, aren't we all just a bunch of imperfect beings, sitting in a room together? Do we really need to keep making it harder for each other? Or are Ron and I being completely naive? Well, I'd sure like to think not.

Young peeps: nobody, nobody, nobody has the right to make you feel like the odd man out. If someone is giving you a hard time, it's because they have a problem, not you. As Ellen said, things will get better. You need to stick around to see it.


Janiel Miller said...

People don't have to agree with each other to live in harmony and peace. They just have to love each other. Or at least respect each other. And love themselves well enough not to put others down.

Thanks for the reminder, Maegan.

Lynn said...

Brava Maegan! I agree wholeheartedly. What is most sad to me are those kids who don't have someone to turn to when these things happen. With all the messages of Love we receive, way too many people ignore the messages when it comes to real life. It is easy to criticize unloving people in stories, but harder to see that in our own lives. Every loving person makes the world that much better - you have made my world a bit better today. Thank you.

Sara B. Larson said...

This was such a horrible tragedy. I agree with you, and your friend, we must see everyone equally and treat everyone with love and respect. This is easier said than done, sometimes, but is so vital to true happiness. Thank you for your thoughts on this.

Russo said...

Maegan, stunning post. WHOA and well said! And perfect last 2 sentences to wrap it up.