Sunday, April 1, 2012
A to Z: Allure of the Different
Remember high school? I watched a rerun of Grey's Anatomy recently, I think from season 4 or 5, about high school, and at some point one Mc-character says to another, "we never really grow up and leave that behind." "Leave what behind?" says the other character. "The cliques."
Now ain't that the truth?
Who were you in high school? Were you part of the in-group? Were you the popular cheerleader, the quarterback that everyone had a crush on? Were you the math whiz that played Dungeons and Dragons? The teachers' pet? The kid with vegetarian parents that never got a nice "normal" lunch and hid from the others to eat tofu and salad? The kid that found the vegan other and made fun of them, taunted others into drawing an uncrossable line?
No judgment here. I was a nasty kid. I made life impossible for many people--and life was made impossible for me by many others. I was a taunter--but I was also different, and paid the price.
What is it about different people that is so un-ignorable? Think about that kid, the one no one would speak to, the one that was bullied. He or she was different, somehow--weird parents, weird hair, weird habits. They didn't fit. But why couldn't they just be left alone? Why did we feel the need to draw that line, to set ourselves apart from them?
You're thinking, "why does it matter?" It's a long time ago, isn't it? But--it isn't. Not really. Everywhere around you--around us--this same thing keeps happening. We draw lines. We set ourselves apart from people who are different, and mostly this setting apart happens in cruel and nasty ways. We even make laws for it.
It's like we can't help ourselves. We simply can't turn away from it, leave it be. Why?
Do we, in some secret recess, find this different alluring? Is that why it's threatening? Because we like it, or envy it? Because its difference challenges our carefully cultivated "normalcy", shows it up for the fake it is? Because by its simple existence this different makes us see how ordinary we are?
Like Martin Luther King Jr., I have a dream. And that dream is that one day the different will be accepted as alluring, without the threat. That its allure will be understood as the challenge it is--to be better, to be authentic and real. Because--let's face it. We are all different.
We're just terrified of admitting it.
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