In the movie, A Time To Kill, there's one of the most compelling scenes that I remember ever seeing. Mathew McConaughey, a lawyer, defends Samuel Jackson for the murder of two young men who raped and left for dead his 10 year old daughter. Of course, the movie is a story of extreme prejudice and human brutality. In the closing arguments MacConaughey recounts in painful and graphic detail the crime of kidnapping, rape and actually attempted murder of the young black girl.
There are no dry eyes on the jury and any watcher is deeply moved. The lawyer stays silent for a few moments and lets the picture settle in. Then in a quiet tone, he says "Now---imagine the girl is white."
It is stunning, you are not prepared for it. No matter how much you believe you're not prejudice or how much you've been on the side of Samuel Jackson, this one piece of dialogue is an instant slap of awareness. In a second, my own daughters, my grandchildren flashed through my mind and it felt so personal.
In our very complicated world today, the issues and differences are not simple. We are being confronted with problems that don't always have very clear answers. The thing that really troubles me is that it seems to me that we've become extremely polarized. You would think that in a world with so much information available, we would be more apt to see all sides of issues. Instead, I believe that we can always find views that support our opinions and we become very confident that we are right. We seem to be losing sight of not just the other side, but of even the middle ground. Let's face it folks, no one is 100 percent right, 100 percent of the time.
Standing on your principles is not the same as being so arrogant and self assured that you close your mind and heart to the beliefs of others or to the struggles and pain of others. The distance between us can be vast and the issues that face us as citizens, not just of America but of the world, can be so deep and unclear that you don't want to even think about them. I'm an old gal, I often find myself just saying, "I don't want to think about that anymore."
Think about it, are you sure that you are right? Have you even approached the center of the road and gave a look to the other side? The old saying about if you only walked a mile in the other person's shoes---is very relevant. How can you possibly know that you're right and others are wrong, how can you possibly know how they feel, if you've never been in their place.
One of the complicated issues of today is the various implications and complications of the transgender community. The hubby and I have an old and dear friend that we love very much. Most of this friend's convictions are based on his faith and we greatly respect that. We all have formed our beliefs and standards on things such as religion, our upbringing and other strong influences in our lives. In a discussion about some of the recent transgender issues---public restrooms access, etc.---he expressed his feelings very clearly.
Now, everyone that knows this man knows that he's a male. Sometimes even crass, always blunt and obvious in his appreciation of women. Friend is a man. So, during this conversation, I said to my friend, "I want you to think about this, seriously. You know who you are, you know your gender and your sexual prefrences---never had a doubt, right?"
"Consider this. You're you, with all the feelings that you've always had, you're the man. But, unfortunately, when you were born you were lacking that manly equipment---oh horrors?! So, the doctor, your parents said well, obviously this is a girl. The decision was made, you were a girl. You were dressed as a girl, raised as a girl, expected to be a GIRL. Even with all those feelings that you have inside, you have to pretend to be a female. You are forbidden to ever live like or be a man."
How do those shoes feel? Walk a mile in them and ask yourself again, Am I absolutely sure and right about what I would do in certain circumstances. If I look hard enough, could I possibly see that distant other side of the argument?
There is never just one clear side, one totally right way. We need to have confidence in our beliefs and stand by our convictions, but we should never be so full of ourselves that we think we are the only righteous inhabitants of earth. If you've forgotten where even the middle ground lies, I can assure you that you are 100 percent wrong.