I just finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
You always hear people going on about a great book, and then the hype usually doesn’t live up to the expectations you formed. And plus, it wasn’t a fantasy/sci-fi novel that I tend to gravitate to; it’s more of a historical fiction.
It just got me thinking about all the lines, borders, fences, etc., we put up between ourselves and anybody else who might be considered “different”. In our daily chats at CTWP, this came up over and over again, in multiple settings and different issues. Race. Religion. Sexuality. Social status. Abuse.
We fear different. Different might even be better than what we do, and we can’t have that. It’s like the Demotivator: The tallest blade of grass is first to be cut by the lawnmower.
We often like to pretend those lines aren’t there. It’s wrong or inappropriate to discuss them as a teacher in the classroom setting. Some things are acceptable now that weren’t when my parents were children. And even then, some people still have deep rooted prejudices towards the Civil Rights movements of the 60s. And students are amazed when they realize, in several parts of the world, the country, the state, some people still keep their lines drawn firmly between themselves and “The Others”.
So it’s always there, the current deep and powerful, lurking under the waters. That’s why I love novels, reading, writing, so much–because deep in every important story, the lines are discussed, crossed, eliminated, or held up. And your reaction to whatever it is, tells more about you than you even realize.
Stories like The Help tear at me. I wonder how many times I just accepted something that was told to me because it was “just how things are”? How many times I treated somebody based on a preconceived stereotype, not thinking about what I was really doing or saying? How naive and ignorant have I been?
In the end, I desperately wish that people could just truly care about each other the way they should, not withstanding these lines. What a place this world could be, I wonder, if everyone treated each other with a little more kindness and acceptance. If we all lived by The Golden Rule: treat everyone how you would want to be treated yourself.
Would we have those lines still?