It’s been about a year since I had an epiphany that changed my life. I was sitting on my couch, reading an article about a lesbian who was beaten by her brother, and I fired up my Word Processor and began to write out my thoughts about the events. I wrote for miles, I’m pretty sure.
I put my potential blog post down for a few minutes to grab some water and came back to my couch and sat and thought for a while, as I usually do after I write a blog post, before I send it off to my editor.
I asked myself “What do I want that I don’t have? Will writing this article achieve that? Do I truly not have it?”
My initial response was, “I want equality, of course. I want lesbians to be treated equally no matter whom they love. Since there are about five people who read my blog and most of them are like-minded, I am not so sure that writing this article does achieve this equality, but perhaps one day someone who is not-so-like-minded will stumble upon the article and SEE THE LIGHT AMEN. Do I truly not have it?”
And so I thought about it more.
“Well, what IS equality?” My earliest understanding of the word came from primary school where we studied the Declaration of Independence, authored by Thomas Jefferson, who, interestingly, was only one year younger than me when he wrote the following:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;
I realized that somehow, over the years, my focus shifted from “created” to “treated” and I began to focus on people who weren’t ‘treating’ other people equally, demanding that they change their ways… or… or… or… bad things may happen! To humanity. Crimes, I tell you! Crimes!
So I sat there and thought about the word “equality” and how I learned about it and how I viewed it up until that point. I realized that my focus had been so shifted to controlling other people’s behaviors that I had not really seen the real message of the Declaration of Independence as it is intended today. We are CREATED equal.
Interesting, right? We are all, men and women, created in the same way. Egg. Meet Sperm. It’s the earliest recorded form of the television show ‘Bachelorette’ at it’s finest. Millions of little spermies set out on a journey to be the one single li’l dude to get the egg. By the journey’s end, maybe six or so are left. And finally, one makes it in. This is the case no matter what color we are, what sexual orientation we are, what class we are, and what gender we are. We are all created equal.
Okay, that’s a different understanding. So, what does that mean?
Well, since I was not created any differently than people out there who ‘treated’ LGBT people as less-than-equal, there was only one conclusion I could logically reach.
I. Am. Equal. Regardless of how I am treated, that does not change my equality. I was created equal. I am equal.
This conclusion changed my life forever. And it changed my view on the general ‘fight’ for equality, ranging from gender-based issues, to sexual orientation issues, to child-rearing issues.
So, as I looked out into the world and looked for the voiceless people who ARE equal, even if others do not treat them as such, my heart landed on the often over-looked subject matter of children. Growing up in a “might is right” philosophy of educating children, it was very clear to me that some people believe children are to be ‘seen’ and ‘not heard’; that they should all have manners and know the rules of life; that they should act like they’re 20 when it comes to social rules and stop acting like they’re older than they are all at the same time.
This issue isn’t about equality per se. It’s about perspective.
For children to experience a sense of equality it is important to facilitate their voices in whatever way they need—fostering creativity is good and healthy and lovely.
And this requires a shift in perspective. It’s NOT something you can get in a book, from a friend, from a mom, or even from having your own children. You will only gain this understanding once you come to terms that ALL people are CREATED equal. ALL of them. Even the toddler who just realized that the color ‘red’ that twists up from that tube looks extraordinarily beautiful on this surface over here. Not only that but it feels so cool and soft and slippery when she puts it on her hands and rubs it on her face. Or when he scribbles over the television with it because that feels even more different than the wall did and it’s so smooth and oh, look, he needs to push a little harder on the smooth surface than on the rougher surface and ‘aww man, no more red… I’ll get a different one.’ It requires a shift in perspective to understand that this is not a child acting out, it’s a child exploring textures and actions and colors and feelings and experiencing life and taking in data and growing neurons and learning.
And that is no more than what you do as a parent when you wake up and snuggle with your child and take a big breath in and smell the sweet baby smell and feel the warmth against your chest and listen to the cooing and the crying and try to find out what will appease the baby this time. You are exploring textures and actions and colors and feelings and experiencing life and taking in data and growing neurons and learning.
All men, all women, all children are created equal. My being-ness is equal, so there’s no need to fight for something I already have. I just had to want open myself up to see it that way. It is through this understanding that I hope to affect the world; acting in synch with my true free self. I hope to inspire adults and children alike to do the same.