There have been occasions of late where all I can do is wring my hands. What else can one do? Perhaps you know the feeling, too, considering a the news stories over the last few weeks.
There are those in society who do not quite meet the requirements of what one could call "Mainstream"; either by choice or chance, birth, nature/nurture, religion, ethnic background...for whatever reason, or no reason. Those that live outside the mainstream boundaries, those who follow a different drummer, to use that poetic phrase. Those that come under fierce scrutiny at a moment's notice. Facts are ignored, rumors take the forefront, misinformation breeds contempt.
Granted there are many who live in the mainstream world who are tolerant and accepting of these others, the ones "outside the norm". But the hue and cry that casts a pall across our nation, that negates the premises of freedom, justice and equality for all, is the sound heard loudest.
The Muslim mosque slated to be built a few blocks from Ground Zero has raised a furor of anger, indignation, and that incipient shadow of racial profiling and hatred of people who do not meet the "correct" standards. The memories of 9/11 are too tender to bear, but the issue at the core of this, is not about forgiveness, or blame, or retribution. The people who wish to build their mosque do not need forgiveness, do not deserve blame or retribution. They did not perpetrate the heinous crimes against humanity. That was the action of an extremist minority..a minority amongst an immense population of Muslims. The issue is ignorance, lack of understanding and knowledge of a specific religion. As in the case of the preacher who called for the burning of a holy book: an example in the extreme,of ignorance and intolerance.
And now, Tyler Clementi is in the news because he lived a quiet, secret life outside the "norm"...following his own drummer, and because of the reprehensible acts of two students, his life is over, but his pain lives on, for his family and friends, for people who never knew him, and for those who do not fit the model of mainstream morals; morals in this case fashioned after a lack of knowledge and understanding.
As a follower of Wicca, a pagan religion, I know too well the difficulty of following a different drummer. The majority of this difficulty lies in the lack of knowledge concerning pagans. Those with prejudices against pagans are unwilling to listen to the truth, and misinformation abounds.
My most fervent wish, my strongest dream is that somehow a mass epiphany could take place across our country, around the globe that would shed light on all the dark places were ignorance lives, and where people would blissfully and thankfully have knowledge revealed to them. That the mainstream could step aside and let those marching to a different drummer be allowed to mingle openly, join in and be free to pursue their own lifestyles and religions, and where no one would need to live in fear of retributions, or of being ostracized.
According to an old expression: "Ignorance is bliss." This is absolutely false, because if the facts were known, if the correct information were in the possession of those who would raise their hands against another because of their religious or sexual preferences, their choices...perhaps those hands would lower, and let anger and hatred die.