One is Silver, the Other Gold

You know those little moments from your childhood? You know, the ones that at the time had little to no significance in your personal development, but for some reason have always stuck with you?

Well one of mine came back to me today. I was in my second grade music class, a tiny classroom with no more than 30 kids, sitting in rows looking at our thick, heavy music books. One of the songs was a musical version of the old phrase, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other gold,” sung in rounds. At the time the song got on my nerves (I’m still not sure why), but here I am 15 years later, with this same simple little song stuck in my head. This time, though, I realize it actually has some meaning.

When I was in my last semester of getting my bachelor’s degree, a slight feeling of tension arose among my friends and me. When we actually got the chance to hang out, it didn’t feel right. There was some odd level of stress and awkwardness.

It’s not like any of my friends did something wrong or harmful. It was just that each of us happened to be at a crossroads all about the same time, and each of us had our own personal stress distracting us from enjoying each other’s company. And being at those crossroads made us lose touch with each other for the sake of pulling our own personal lives together.

Recently, when I received an invitation to an old high school friend’s wedding, I had a distressing epiphany. I am a very sociable person, and have been blessed with a expansive circle of friends. Through high school, college and even the “real” world, I have made connections to more people than I’d ever imagined. In that brief moment of realization, I grew overwhelmed knowing how many people I consider friends but haven’t talked to in years.

Since I’ve become a full-fledged adult, and have had the opportunity to sort out my thoughts and goals since graduation, I realize now that this is normal. We all do simply what we have to do, even if that means sacrificing quality time with friends. Friends will move away, get married, have kids, do grown up things. There is no reason to be disliked for it, it is simply the nature of being grown up.

Even if I haven’t spoken to someone in years, it doesn’t mean I’m not going to their wedding. It doesn’t even mean that we aren’t friends. There’s no point in spending our waking hours concerned whether we’re still friends, without probable cause for those thoughts. It’s the little moments we often overlook; the exchanging of Pokemon cards on the school bus, the shaving cream fight, the 3am coffee runs, the timeless moments we can still laugh about today, that have solidified us as friends.

So in those rare moments when my friends and I do have the time to catch up, we are genuinely able to enjoy each other’s company. We are able to relive old memories and hopefully make some new ones as well. It’s as if we’d just seen each other. And it’s an amazing feeling, one that even being Facebook “friends” could never conjure.

So as the saying goes, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other gold.” It doesn’t matter who they are, where you met or how long it’s been since you’ve talked. It doesn’t even matter if they’re silver or gold; either way, those friendships will remain precious.

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Confessions of a Non-Hater

I’m going to start by listing current facts about me.

  1. I love video games. I’m particularly obsessed with Skyrim.
  2. I drink a lot of tea.
  3. I love playing kickball.
  4. I eat at Panera way too much.
  5. I have three cats and two fish.
  6. I’m going to graduate school in the fall.
  7. I’m gay.
  8. I have five siblings.
  9. Christina Aguilera is my musical idol.
  10. I am kind of fanatical about Dr. Who.
  11. I grew up on country music.
  12. I don’t believe in political or religious affiliations.
  13. I bite my nails.
  14. I listen to NPR a lot; I am particularly fond of Diane Rehm.
  15. I try to be nice to everybody as best I can.

All of these things have some sort of impact on my life. By reading all of these things, which do you think is the most significant?

Well, according to our government, #7 is the strongest definition of who I am. Apparently everything I do or say in my life is directly related to my sexuality, which means I deserve to be hated and denied the same rights as people who share some of those other 14 aspects of my life.

As #15 states, I try to be as nice to everybody as I can. I have previously written on the importance of generating good karma, and loving thy neighbor. The first fifteen years of my life consisted of growing up in an environment of hatred and emotional abuse. Yet even in those dark times I still learned to accept that everybody does things for their own personal reasons and shouldn’t be wholly hated for that.

But every day we are being fed into a completely opposite mindset. We are constantly consuming media that expresses–even encourages–a culture of hatred for individuals who are different from us. When it’s not Republican vs. Democrat, it’s Christians vs. Muslims vs. Jews. Or the “pro-abortionists” vs. the “woman-haters.” And recently, when a local municipality passed an anti-discrimination bill including LGBT individuals, it became the “social engineers” vs. property owners.

This has what has become of our “indivisible” nation. The nature of the media and politics has divided us, so much that we start to hate other people simply because they don’t agree with us.

We need to stop feeding into it.

It’s time to stop hating and discriminating. Fifty years or so ago, the de-segregation of our nation didn’t  destroy the traditional white family. And today, allowing two people of the same sex to get married isn’t going to destroy the traditional opposite-sex family. Some only feel that way because that is the message of hatred being spread. 

It’s okay to disagree with the idea; I have many conservative friends who do not favor same-sex marriage but still love me for who I am. Even my devout Catholic father and stepmother and I agreed to disagree on the issue and not let it get in the way of the fact that we are still family above all else. When those personal walls are dropped, we are able to have an adult conversation about it.

This is my message to both sides:

There is no point to the endless bickering. You may have surrounded yourself with people that agree with you, but there are plenty more who disagree. And this is not your invitation to gang up on and insult or ridicule someone who is different. We all know both sides of the issue have their views and beliefs, and the information supporting that thought. Both sides have grown tired of hearing the same info, and have often resorted to name calling. What’s the point in that? What does a playground insult have to do with your opinion?

We all need to calm down. Our country was founded on the basis of democracy, meaning one person’s opinion is no more or less valuable than the next person’s. And as long as our opinions aren’t causing harm to the other side, then what’s all the fuss about? What is so wrong with sitting down and having a discussion as I did with my parents, and finding some common ground, even if it’s agreeing to disagree? Only when we actually act like adults and try to cooperate, will we begin to realize that we aren’t actually that different, and that sexual orientation or party affiliation or any other label is the last thing we should be worried about when it comes to preserving our freedom and well-being.

It’s time to stop promoting hatred and start promoting humanity.