I grew up in the country, but the elementary school I attended was in the city about five miles away. It was a very small school, and even though it was within the city limits, it was made up of bused in country kids. There were only two black children in my grade. They were twin girls, and their family were Jehovah’s Witnesses. I always liked the twins. We had lots of fun playing at school together. But I was always acutely aware that they were different from me.
One year when I was six or seven my mother was helping me make up the list of who I wanted to invite to my birthday party. My mom asked if I wanted to invite the twins, and I said no, they couldn’t come to my party because they were black. My mother was horrified. How in my liberal love-everyone upbringing did I become a racist? It took her about ten minutes of lecturing to figure out that I didn’t know how to distinguish the difference between the twins race and religion. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate birthdays, and since I didn’t know any other black children, I assumed that all black kids weren’t allowed to celebrate birthdays. I suppose it should be a testament to my upbringing that I had no concept of racism. I also didn’t know that being gay was a strange thing until I was ten. I didn’t know that a man could be hated for loving another man. It was just who they were.
I suppose that the reason for this much-more-serious-than-I-ever-like-to-be post is simple. As little children we are friends with everyone. We love everyone who is kind to us. We have to be taught to hate the differences among us be it race, religion, or sexual orientation. No one is born hating anyone. So why do we continue to teach children to hate? Is it because we are afraid? My biggest fear isn’t of being attacked by a foreign country or even by an individual who is American. My biggest fear is of passing down the legacy of hate to the next generation. There will always be bad people in the world. But they will not always be distinguished by a certain race, religion, or nationality. So please stop pushing children into a world of fear and hate. It’s the only way things can get better.