It feels odd, and somewhat sickening, to think that I was inspired to write this after learning that a boy I know was attacked in public due to his sexual orientation, and was reduced to thinking the only way out was to commit suicide. Luckily he was found in time, but at fifteen years old death should be the last thing to enter his mind. I was horrified when I found out about the attack on him, and it troubles me to think that there must be many others, of all ages, who feel the answer to their problems is suicide. And how many have actually succeeded?
The majority of people, if not all, understand and have experienced the feeling of fear. Whether that fear has been as a result of a nightmare, an instinct, a phobia, or maybe even a near death experience, most have come across it. Some experiences of fear are due to other people, usually because that person doesn’t like the victim who possesses the source of their anger, hatred, or whatever else that prompts them to treat that person wrongly, for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s a group of people who are persecuted. This can be a group of friends at school or work who others don’t like because they’re arrogant, or they’re lazy, or simply because they’re different.
Different. There is so much prejudice and discrimination for being different. Be the only Goth at your school and you’re a potential target for bullies. Be the only female, or male, at your work and you could be the butt of every joke. Be the only black or white person, gay or straight person – if you are different, then you are at risk of becoming a victim due to other people’s views, therefore causing you to be subjected to that feeling of fear. It’s not fair, but unfortunately that’s the way it is.
Of course, fear isn’t always due to just intimidation. According to Home Office Statistics, a total of 48,127 hate crimes were recorded from 1st January to the 31st December 2010 by all police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 39,311 of these attacks were racist, 4,883 were homophobic attacks, and 1,569 were attacks on people because of their disabilities. What troubles me the most is not the numbers, but the lack of a rational answer to the simple question of why. Why would someone want to hurt another person because they’re not like them?
I’m sorry, scratch that. Why would someone want to harm, maybe even kill, another person just for being themselves?
What are they trying to do? Beat the ‘wrongness’ out of them? Beat the black out of a black person; the white out of a white person; the gay out of a gay person? It’s hardly possible to remove all the ‘different’ people from the world. Homophobes, racists, sexists and all other forms of discriminating people seem to think that everyone in the world should be exactly the same – that’s my opinion anyway. If a company – Apple for example – were given a project to complete, would it be accomplished to the high standards we are used to if the staff all had the same qualification and abilities? They need the people who specialise in design. They need the people who specialise who specialise in finance.
It sounds ridiculous to think of members of a company being treated differently just because they specialise in a different part of a project, doesn’t it. Yet it seems to be perfectly okay to victimise people who have a different gender, race, religion or sexuality. Being different is what makes you you. The human race would be such a boring species if not for the variety and unorthodoxy of individuals.
I’m not saying that people should be direct and in-your-face about their differences, far from it. After all, that’s practically as bad as being prejudiced. I’m merely saying that people should be free to embrace their originality, find their place in the world, and be who they truly are. To be unique is a good thing, not a thing to be ashamed of, and I wish more of the population would realise that.