The Pain of Inequality

I’m postponing my regularly-scheduled blog to instead post one that became an immediate need for me to write.

Through some amazing circumstances about which I don’t know the details, our company was able to obtain special viewing rights for the movie Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom as part of our annual Employee’s Meeting this past week.  This movie won’t be available to the masses until December 25, so this advanced screening was a treat for us.  It was even more of a treat for me, as it was a way for me to learn a little more about Nelson Mandela and the struggles he faced throughout his life to end apartheid.  Yes, I could’ve taken the time to learn about him beforehand–and I make humble apologies for not doing so before–but I’m not into history, so it wasn’t something I was drawn to do.

To further illustrate my ignorance, I’ve been very fuzzy on what the word apartheid meant for most of my life.  Growing up, I had a vague feeling that it was the same as segregation, but I didn’t understand why it wasn’t just called by the same name.  Again, I could’ve looked it up, and again, I failed to do so.  Today, I would like to give you a bit of the reasons why I never looked more closely at these parts of our world’s history; maybe to exonerate myself in some way, I’m not sure yet what my reasons are.  All I know is that I felt this blog being written as I left the theater that day.

“In complete darkness, we are all the same.  It is only our knowledge and wisdom that separates us.
Don’t let your eyes deceive you.”
~ Janet Jackson, Rhythm Nation 1814

When I was growing up in Michigan, my mother raised me to believe that everyone was equal; regardless of race, religion, sexual preference, whathaveyou (THANKS, MOM!).  I’d learned a little bit about segregation in my school’s history class, but because I wasn’t raised with that sort of hatred, it honestly felt to me like something that had happened centuries before my time, rather than merely a few years before.  Also, the times I did hear about it, it was something that seemed to happen mostly in the southern states.  Somehow, in my brain, the war between the Union and Confederates was also the fight against slavery, so I automatically assumed all of us who lived in the northern states viewed people of all races as equals.

It took me moving out of my mother’s accepting home to shatter that illusion, and I’ll never forget the day I first witnessed bigoted views.  I was so shocked and appalled that someone could be so prejudiced against another, just because his skin color was different, that I was too dumbfounded to say anything.  But that was when I realized how prevalent it still was in our society.  Shortly after that awakening, I learned that there used to be a HUGE group of followers of the KKK not too far from where I grew up.  My whole belief that people in the north were more open was blown.

Since that time, I’ve thankfully noticed more and more people of color being accepted all over.  Maybe I’ve just found like-minded people to surround myself with (and yes, I know we’ve still got a LONG way to go), but whatever the case, I’m glad to be able to witness the change that’s coming.  I honestly can’t understand why someone would find an entire group of people lacking, simply based on one aspect of his/her person, be it skin color, religion, or sexual preference.  And, even though I thankfully didn’t have to live through the horrors of segregation or apartheid, it honestly hurts me whenever I hear that someone’s being judged in such a way.  As much as I believe that many things in this world fall into grey areas, there’s one black and white that I strongly hold true: that it’s unquestionably WRONG to hate someone for being different than you.

I walked out of that movie theater in tears, for what so many South Africans had to suffer through, not the least of whom was Nelson Mandela; a man who spent nearly 30 years of his life in prison, simply because he didn’t like the injustices imposed upon his people.  Did he do some violent things during his life?  Yes, if the movie is to be believed.  But he was largely a peaceful man who watched his people get punished and brutally murdered, simply for being born with different skin tones.  And–even after all the violence and injustices– he believed that people were born good:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
~ Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

I know that I don’t have the strength to live through what he did–and I’ve made my peace with the fact that I will never change the world on such a global scale–but I am thankful and proud of the fact that I was raised with love, not hate.  And I’m even prouder of the fact that I still live my life that way; that each person is equal to me, no matter their race, profession, religion, sexual preference, or whatever.

“A person is a person . . . after all.”
~ Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Craig
    Dec 06, 2013 @ 08:12:45

    Don’t forget Gender!

    Reply

  2. Dolly Chamberlin
    Dec 07, 2013 @ 05:01:27

    I’m sure the movie is VERY powerful. I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch it, with all the intensity. & it still stifles me sometimes when I experience the type of ignorance he endured for sooo long. I like Ray Stevens version of Everything Is Beautiful. He asks children what they think prejudice means – their reply is “I think it’s when somebody’s sick.”
    Just a bit of info. . . you used the term preference when talking of sexual. I believe It is orientation, not preference. We are born with orientation, we develop preference.
    LOVES :}

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Dec 07, 2013 @ 09:35:19

      Thanks for the clarification, Mom. I definitely didn’t mean to imply that people choose their sexuality. And yes, Ray’s version is a great one.

      Thanks for visiting today.

      Reply

  3. HSS
    Dec 07, 2013 @ 12:02:45

    Great blog, once again, Alyx. Very thought provoking. I can’t wait to see the movie.

    You inspired me to write about what Nelson Mandela meant to me. Thank you.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Dec 07, 2013 @ 12:10:05

      Thanks, Helen. It’s a little weird that I wrote this blog on Tuesday, and he passed on Thursday, but I still felt compelled to post it on Friday anyway.

      I can’t wait to read yours. I’ll keep my eye out for it. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by today.

      Reply

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