Friday, 3 September 2010

The Monster under the Bed


This Monday I was pottering on Facebook and got into reading a long discussion on an "-ism". You know them... the monsters under the bed - racism, sexism, ageism... and a whole lot more I really can't be bothered to type. There's just too many, because for every personal petty peeve of humanity... there's an -ism!

-isms like to think they're scary, but once you pull them out into the sunshine you realise they're really not that different from us. That's the whole point of isms - they're our fears of anything different from us - different religion, different culture, different race, different language... different clothes, age, gender, class, career, politics - DIFFERENT.

...but different is what also makes us marvelous and exciting.

Different is twenty-five flavours of ice cream
and seven colours in a rainbow.
Different is more than one TV channel to choose to watch.
Different is a hundred kinds of traditional and popular music to listen to.

Different is fun!

I love the fact my friends belong to different religions, races and cultures. I love the fact they have shown me views of this world I'd have never known existed without their eyes to take a peek through. I love their wonderful amazing imaginative different-ness, but I do know how easy it is for a difference to snowball into a really nasty -ism.

In the case of that Facebook discussion I mentioned we all grouped together, hauled that -ism out into the sunshine, and showed it up for what it really was - a rather smelly lump of paranoia!

While there are smelly paranoid -isms out there, a lot of -isms start out as nothing more than a difference of opinion or belief. Nothing wrong with that as long as we remember to respect those differences, as we expect our own beliefs and opinions to be respected. I can eat meat, but not be nasty to vegans. I can be a vegetarian and not hate meat eaters. I can crack a joke about typical men/women gender flaws and not automatically turn into a seething sexist bigot. I can love my spirituality and not automatically think everyone else is hated by the Creator or going to Hell.

I can be proud to belong to my Nation/culture/race and not automatically think my "group" should be the supreme power controlling the entire world.

The problems start when we leave those -isms in the dark for too long. Then they start getting a little crazy. They start to take themselves seriously and they make us take them seriously in return. We start believing that those differences are vitally important and we start feeding all our fears and resentments into those -isms. We start to label everything different from us as...

I'm sure you've heard it yourself. When people get together to complain about anything from sports to politics there's always a THEM involved somewhere. THEM that look different, think different, believe different or behave different. It's always THEM that ruin everything for us. So we complain about THEM and we say how nice this world would be if there were no THEM. How much better things would be for us all if we just got rid of THEM.

And that's when the real Monster stirs in the dark...


Hayden said...

Beautifully done post, Michelle!

(standing applause!)

Qualityservice44 said...

That was well said, Michelle. I guess variety "is the spice of life" so I imagine that many "isms" should be welcomed.

Amel said...

What a superb post, M!!! THANK YOU for writing this post! :-D

Lori said...

Wow! What a great post! Bravo! You are spot on with this. Happy weekend! XX

Unknown said...


Michelle said...

(bows) Thank you!

Hi Vince
Nice seeing you here. :-) I do think political correctness (the killing of -isms) can be as paranoid as -isms. Going to extremes is never healthy.

Amel and Lori
Thank you. :-)) I hope you both have a lovely weekend too. XX XX

Hi FishHawk
Thank you. :-) I'm so glad you took the time to find me and leave your link. I've really enjoyed reading your blogs and following up on the other interesting places you have left links for.

Twilight said...

Very well put, Michelle! the kicker is in your last sentence How much better things would be for us all if we just got rid of THEM.
Signature of one of the worst of the ISMs - horrendous spectre of....fascISM.

As long as we're willing to show a fair amount of tolerance - live-and-let-live - I reckon that it's okay to complain occasionally, and debate differences as part of life's learning curve.

Unknown said...

Excellent! Well done.

Different is good...and usually lots of fun.

రామ ShastriX said...

ha, ha; nice.

Reminded me of that "Russians" discussion in Travels with Charley:

Captcha: raterler

Michelle said...

Thanks Twilight
and yes, fascism was one of the "real monsters" I was thinking about.

LOL true. :-)

I went and read the page ... and laughed! Oh my... everyone needs Russians. ;-D

Vasant Prabhu said...

nice thoughts ..very apt for current times

Jean-Jacques said...

Hi Michelle,

Very Nice Post - thank you, I really enjoyed reading it! I really like your new look blog, and the background really fits!

Here's a few related quotes I looked up - enjoy!

- Jacques


"Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well."

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

“People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.”

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It's one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it's another to think that yours is the only path.”
-Paulo Coelho

“We are all alike on the inside”
-Mark Twain

“People are pretty much alike. It's only that our differences are more susceptible to definition than our similarities.”

“Really big people are, above everything else, courteous, considerate and generous - not just to some people in some circumstances - but to everyone all the time.”
-Thomas J. Watson, Sr.

“People who matter are most aware that everyone else does, too.”
-Malcolm S. Forbes

“What is objectionable, what is dangerous, about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”
- Robert Francis Kennedy

“Even as a tree has a single trunk, but many branches and leaves, there is one religion but any number of faiths”
-Mahatma Gandhi

“When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.”
- Abraham J. Heschel

“In the silence of night I have often wished for just a few words of love from one man, rather than the applause of thousands of people.”
- Judy Garland

“No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger that its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise”
- Marian Anderson

“People who are funny and smart and return phone calls get much better press than people who are just funny and smart.”
- Howard Simons

“Your worst enemies are made when you ignore people."
- Tori Amos

“People are what you make them. A scornful look turns into a complete fool a man of average intelligence. A contemptuous indifference turns into an enemy a woman who, well treated, might have been an angel.”
- Andre Maurois

Jacqui said...

Lovely post thank you. Love the blog background too.

Michelle said...

Hi Vasant
thank you. :-)

Wow. Some wonderful quotes! Thanks. I can see me using these in the future. ;-)

Hi Jacqui
Welcome to my blog. :-) I made the background myself from some photos we took recently.