There's No Excuse for Being Hateful
Nothing you say to me is going to make me forgive you for being homophobic or racist.
It’s a refrain I’ve heard time and time again to try to assuage me when I’m getting worked up about someone being homophobic or racist:
“You have to understand, Evan, that this is how they were raised. You can’t blame them for that.”
Even just writing that trite bullshit summoned little pinpricks of angry fire to the edge of my skin, ready to spill out through my fingertips into a scathing blog post. I can’t blame them? Watch me.
I find it very interesting (read: lazy) that so many of us are willing to excuse homophobia and racism on the basis that they are somehow values instilled in people from birth, which (magically!) makes it okay for people to hold said homophobic and racist beliefs. We are saying that just because people were taught to be hateful, their hate is excusable.
News flash: it isn’t.
I’d like to introduce everyone to a word many of us must not be very familiar with: growth. Growth, by definition, is the process of something increasing in size. In the metaphorical sense, however, humans use growth to refer to the process of making mistakes, learning from those mistakes, and becoming a better person in the process.
To give one example, think of a child in the schoolyard. Let’s say that one child got a new soccer ball for Christmas - the stitching immaculate, the leather pristine. Said child may decide to bring this new soccer ball to school for a quick pick-up game at recess, as they would be understandably excited to play with their new toy. As they play, a less fortunate child may be sitting on the sidelines, stewing about how all they got for Christmas was a decent meal and a hug from their mother.
This less fortunate child may think it to be unfair that the more fortunate child got a great new toy for Christmas and they did not. This may lead the less fortunate child to sneak into the more fortunate child’s locker after lunch and steal the shiny new soccer ball, thinking it was okay to get a piece of the fun.
Upon getting reprimanded for stealing someone else’s things, the less fortunate child would be angry and chastened, but would have ultimately learned a lesson: no matter how unfair the world may be, stealing someone else’s possessions to benefit yourself is wrong. The child would then move through life with a fundamental understanding of the moral indecency of theft.
This child made a mistake, learned a lesson, and became a better person because of it.
This, dear reader, is why the “how they were raised” excuse for hate is complete and utter bullshit. I don’t, quite frankly, give a fuck if someone was taught that two men being in love is wrong, or that someone with darker skin is less intelligent and doesn’t deserve to be an equal citizen. Many people were taught those things, grew up, realized they were wrong, and changed their ways.
Those that grew up, learned those things were wrong, and continued to believe them anyway? Those are the people I don’t have time for, and those are the people we have to stop excusing and start holding accountable for their beliefs.
You see, it takes a certain willful ignorance to move through life holding on to hateful beliefs. At some point in life, assuming you have a soul, you must have realized that discounting someone for the color of their skin or the person they love might not make too much sense. You know, somewhere deep down, that you really have no right to judge others for how they were born or even how they choose to live their lives.
And yet… You do it anyway. You do it, possibly because you’re scared of losing your power in society - a power bestowed upon you by sheer luck based on the circumstances of your birth - or possibly because you think that by challenging what you’ve always believed you will lose a piece of who you are. Because you think it’s easier to die a bigot than to live with love, you continue to live a hateful lifestyle - whether you are vocal about it or keep it to yourself.
If you don’t want to take the time to learn, grow, change, and become a better person, that’s your choice. But do not expect me to like you. Do not expect me to interact with you. And do not expect me to shoulder the burden of teaching you to be a better person, because that sure as hell is not my responsibility.
But most importantly, do not expect me to excuse you for your hateful beliefs simply because you’ve never taken the time to try to change them. It’s not an excuse, it’s a cop-out.
I genuinely feel bad for those who refuse to let love in, because the world becomes a whole lot brighter when you open your heart to those who are different from you and allow yourself to learn from them. Life’s most beautiful aspect is that each of us is different and has something unique to give to the world.
Why deprive yourself of that?
This post was brought to you by Inside Your Mind by The 1975, because it’s a lovely ballad with a title and theme that would help make the world a better place - if we could all get inside each other’s minds, I think we’d find that the differences we thought were massive weren’t quite so scary after all. It’s been added to my blog playlist, which you can follow and save on Spotify here.
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