This is a picture that I took last September from Whin Rigg, here in the English Lakes.
I’ve just returned home from meeting with a couple to discuss the wedding that I’ve written for them. It’s always lovely to hear that you’ve hit the nail on the head with your words. In this case, neither came from Cumbria but both felt that they had “found themselves” here between the mountains and the sea. They wanted their wedding ceremony to explain, to their family and friends, what their new home means to them as a couple.
I was able to put that into words for them and that’s part of what makes being a wedding celebrant so rewarding.
There seems to be a day for everything now. I could be suffering from “day fatigue” but this one seems quite important.
Discrimination takes many forms. Some are “obvious” and well known: skin colour; race; religion; disability; and so on. Some are less obvious.
You might think that I’ve little about me that people might choose to “pick” on. I’m a white, male, well educated, Anglo-Saxon, able bodied, heterosexual sort of a chap living in a beautiful part of the “first world”. I am lucky. I acknowledge that am am grateful for it.
But that doesn’t mean that I’ve never been discriminated against. During my childhood we moved around a lot; from the north east of England to the home counties and even, for a year or so, the Netherlands. I was always “different”. The way I spoke always made me “other” and the butt of endless “banter”. I’m tall and bearded and like to wear hats that youths mock loudly in the street. I don’t like football which makes me less than a “real” man.
I could go on but won’t out of respect for those who have it far worse than I do but even this low level of discrimination has lead to lifelong upset on my part.
Why does it happen? There seems to be something about us that makes us fear difference. Perhaps we’ve not evolved past the living in small tribes and distrusting anybody else phase. I don’t know – I shan’t put myself forwards as an expert and nor do I claim to be perfect in this regard.
All I will say is that the humanist perspective would suggest that we need to be very careful about our preconceptions. It’s likely that we’re all programmed – by upbringing, society or even DNA – to distrust difference. We point at it and laugh or throw stones. Perhaps we do this to strengthen our bond with those who are like us.
Try to give everyone a chance to prove that they’re really just like you inside.