In case you’ve been hiding under a rock the past week, the US Supreme Court ruled that marriage no longer must be between a man and a woman. It is a huge win for supporters of marriage equality, and I also believe a huge win for equality in general. Our world is shaped by categories of people, of rich and poor, of black and white of straight and gay. It is these categories, these so called differences that divide us as human beings, that have created world wars, that see us live in a world of terrorism and conflict. It is our norm, our way of being to divide and categorise, to place into like and dislike. It is how we wired after all, to search for threat and to find safety which requires a level of division and discernment. As we have evolved we have replaced the threat of a saber tooth tiger with people who are different to us. We have become afraid of our fellow human being.
It is fear that drives us to oppose things like marriage equality. Fear of what I actually don’t know as I find it hard to find a rational reason why we should be afraid of people getting married, but in respecting that each to their own, there is a reason for these people’s objections (even if they only make sense in their own mind). In this world we are given opposing ends of the spectrum, just like black and white, straight and gay, his and hers, there is the opposing forces of love and hate. Interestingly enough love and hate have similar neural pathways, they light up areas of the brain in common. Weird huh. Love and hate may not be so opposing after all. So what separates us human beings, what creates these divides, that see us treating people, our fellow human being as different?
We are driven by our fears of difference.
It is sad (and even scary) but unfortunately true. We cease seeing people as human beings and rather see them as labels. As gays, or boat people, catholics and mulsims. As black, as white, as something-other-than-me…..we search for the differences and place people into categories, determining whether we like or dislike. From fear we decide that gays can’t marry, that boat people should be sent back, that indigenous Australian’s should be integrated into white western society. We all do it, maybe not in the extreme of race or religion, but we judge, we categorise and we dismiss. Been to a yoga studio lately? Careful, you might be shunned for not balancing perfectly in half moon. All communities in some way shape or form categorise people into moulds that suit our societal norms.
What if we could take the message from the US, the #lovewins approach. What if we were to see people as people, that our default way of viewing fellow human beings was through love v’s fear. Imagine if we decided to treat people first as human beings and second with love. Would we even care about who got married? No, we would welcome anyone who wanted to celebrate their love for each other. How about refugees? What if we saw their humanness first, their real and desperate suffering, what if we saw them through the eyes of love. Would they end up in a detention centre? Most likely not.
This is not about getting into a political debate, or even a religious one. But the words of God actually have some pretty sound advice on this one, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It doesn’t say fear people, hate people. That to me says love people. See the humanness in all of us. Treat people as you would like to be treated yourself. Not sure our politicians would like to sit in a detention centre or be told they can’t marry.
So whilst it is huge step forward to see marriage equality make it the US, we still have a way to go for true equality. But each step in the right direction certainly helps. And every time you feel yourself judging, categorising, or even seeing someone as a category…stop….see them as a fellow human being….recoginse that they just want to be happy, just like you. Try seeing them first as a person, and second with love. Even if you do that once, you are every so slightly changing the trajectory of the pathway.