Making Tolerance Trendy

Last week on Friday, I woke up extra early so I could be one of the first to listen to Lady Gaga’s new single, “Born this Way.” Though I’ve never been the biggest “monster,” I still wanted to see if this new song could top all the awesome singles released this year, like Avril’s “What the Hell,” Rihanna’s “S&M” and (best of all) Britney’s “Hold it Against Me,” whose video premieres today.

(Sidenote: I’m really excited for this video. Just sayin’.)

As I listened intently through my earphones plugged into my laptop, I started to enjoy the sound of “Born this Way.” It had a 90’s Eurodance feel, and an empowering dance anthem sound. She throws in lines about ethnicity (some politically incorrect…ruh roh) and sexuality, saying that no matter who you are, you are “born this way.”

Here’s the thing: I understand what Gaga is trying to do. As a woman who has made a name for herself as multiculturally sensitive, outspoken, and tolerant, she feels compelled to push universal acceptance of everyone onto the radio waves. And she has succeeded. Her message is clear and now in the ears of the millions who simply turn on their radios.

Maybe those who hear this song will begin to understand the importance of accepting everyone. Maybe they will understand that we are all just human beings, roaming this planet together, trying to live our lives just as well as the next guy. Maybe this is the start to actual equal rights for everyone.

But what I want to know is, why does it take a musician to get this message across?

A major problem across our nation is that a lot of people do not get educated on tolerance and acceptance at an early age. Having grown up in a small town myself, I can speak from first-hand experience. All I ever knew was a white, heterosexual, Christian community. I rarely saw any non-white people in my town, and anyone non-Christian was scorned and forced to keep to himself. It wasn’t until I started college that I was educated on diversity and multicultural sensitivity. I like to think I’m one of the lucky ones, who managed to escape without having my mind clouded by a community that promotes disdain and discrimination against people who are “different.”

Diversity, throughout many schools in our nation, is not an essential part of the curriculum. Students end up graduating without any knowledge or understanding of people unlike them. I don’t know how do they plan to get professional jobs if they don’t know anything about the people they will be working with.

So when a big-name artist like Lady Gaga comes out with a song about accepting everybody for who they are, what does that say? It says that the only way we can even begin to open our minds about diversity is through the mainstream media because our everyday society fails to do so.

Parents need to teach tolerance to their children at an early age. Avoiding conversations with children about why people are different only breeds more intolerance, and in turn leaves another generation behind in understanding diversity. Sure, it’s awkward, but it’s the awkward conversations that open the doors for children to explore the world.

It’s not going to kill you to explain that some boys like boys and some girls like girls. The world isn’t going to blow up if you tell your child there are people in this world who speak different languages. Quit skating around the truth with your children and just answer their questions honestly. You expect honesty from your children; shouldn’t it be mutual?

Our society puts too much importance on mainstream entertainment. We invest more of our time in entertaining ourselves than educating. Though Gaga makes great use of her art to combine entertainment and education, it’s pathetic that she had to do it in the first place.

It’s time to grow up and get used to the fact that we are in a diverse society.
Just because you don’t understand a group of people, doesn’t mean you’re better than they.
Even if you’re certain you’ll never meet a particular type of person in the future, it won’t kill you to educate yourself on that person’s life. You never know, you might find a lot of similarities.

Here’s a start: You’re both human.
Maybe it’s time to start treating each other as such.

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