IF YOU CAN’T ACCEPT SOMEONE FOR WHO THEY ARE, CAN/SHOULD YOU TRY AND CHANGE THEM?

In this day and age, with so much knowledge and ability to garner knowledge, there is no excuse to hate anyone just because you don’t understand why they are/pray/look the way they do. I have always felt that hate stems from ignorance, and that doesn’t mean someone is stupid, but doesn’t have enough facts for an informed opinion. There are also those who have incorrect information and choose to believe it as it supports their already skewed belief system.
A great example is how many religious zealots truly believe that homosexuality is a disease which can be cured with prayer. I always ask people to put that to a test. I close my eyes, and when picturing someone to whom I sexually attracted, realize if I picture someone of the opposite sex, I’m heterosexual, and if I picture and get aroused by someone of the same sex, all the prayer or beatings in the world won’t change that; it’ll merely be prudent to say what someone who is beating me wishes to hear. The same goes for those who are uncomfortable in the gendered body in which they were born. I again close my eyes and if I feel feminine, then great, as I was born female. But if I were to feel with every fibre of my being that I was masculine, then there would be a very large problem. Now some people may be content to dress as the opposite sex, but many such as Renee Richardson, suffered too greatly to continue to be trapped in the wrong body.

Still, many don’t believe this and as such, hate anyone who doesn’t live according to their belief system; those are the people for whom I have great pity. I have a hard enough time living up to my idea of how a good and decent person should behave, let alone demanding others live up to that expectation. We are none of us perfect, and as such, need to accept people (and ourselves*) for whom and how they are. Of course, there are exceptions, such as paedophiles, rapists, murderers, thieves, drunk drivers, etc., but I digress. I understand many have problems with limiting their intake of alcohol, and while I disagree that this is inherent, or a disease, I do believe these people should be allowed to just go off and get as drunk as they want. That said, there are many problems which arise when someone is an alcoholic; many have a very bad temper when drunk, I being one of those people. I luckily got very bored with getting drunk on a daily basis, and thankfully gave it up, and never had a license during that time. This is a good thing as driving while drunk was once considered cool; that is until someone got hurt or killed. While I was nasty when drunk, and said some mean things to people, thankfully I stopped before I really hurt anyone. I am not one given to violence, therefore I was not likely to physically injure anyone, but that isn’t true of many others who have issues with booze. I have a relative whose grandfather was an alcoholic and her mother, his daughter slept with a knife under her pillow, for fear of what he might do while intoxicated. Sadly, and I feel this goes more to learned behaviour than alcoholism being either a disease or inherited, my relative’s mother became an alcoholic as well. While her mother wasn’t predisposed to violence, she wasn’t pleasant to be around, and ruined many family gatherings. And as I said regarding learned behaviour, my relative also grew up to have a drinking problem, and married someone who was more than happy to join in on the drinking. Said husband did not have anyone in the family who drank; overate, certainly, but as Manischewitz wine was what was served during holidays, it was much too sweet to ever turn anyone into an alcoholic, thus confirming, at least in this instance that alcoholism is a learned behaviour.

Thankfully, this couple doesn’t drive when inebriated, but their tempers do flare up, that’s for sure. In instances such as these, yes, it is wise to try and have people change or at the very least, alter their behaviour. The same is true with respect to overeating, and both these behaviours have things important in common, such as the effect of these “habits” on family, friends and careers. How, you might ask? Well, someone who destroys their liver as is the case with many alcoholics, as well as someone who becomes diabetic and has other health issues as is true of many who are obese becomes a burden on the health care system. A case in point is a chap with whom I worked many years ago. He drank, ate and smoked to excess, then needed by-pass surgery. His physician refused to treat him unless he got all his habits under control, and lost weight as well. This man did as his doctor demanded, had the surgery and within mere weeks, was back to all three habits. My question is; what happened thereafter, and if he again needed medical care, did his doctor refuse him, or did he make the same demands, knowing that once the treatment was over, so would this man’s control? Soon after this man’s return to work and his bad habits, my assignment at our place of work ceased, so I’ll never know, nor will I ever know if he lived long enough to require further medical attention. But medical requirements aside, there are the effects on these people’s families as they watch their loved ones drink/eat/smoke themselves to death.
I have maintained a weight loss of over 100 pounds, and realize how much of a burden I was to my husband. As I was so obese, I couldn’t do many things, which meant my husband had to pick up the slack, such as having to do all the snow shovelling, heavy housework; and when we were on vacation, there were many things I wasn’t able to do, and as such, my husband either lost out or did them alone. I also felt embarrassed for him when he introduced me to friends or co-workers, and was often taken to be his mother. You can imagine what went through people’s minds when they saw us kissing, and many admitted they thought my husband and I were very sick, not to mention shameless for kissing in public.

This leads into the habit of smoking and why it is so bad for everyone. First, the impact on the health care system, next the impact on loved ones who are around them, and that includes pets who are at the level where the smoke is directed right at them when smokers are seated, or in an enclosed vehicle. Next is having to endure the smoker’s endless coughing when those who are heavy smokers. I know of people who smoke though they have Asthma, and when they waken, spend several minutes hacking up what sounds like a lung. And what do you suppose they do in between coughing jags? Yup, light up another cigarette. Then there’s the cost of higher insurance premiums, and the risk of these people falling asleep while smoking and setting their homes ablaze. I was friends with one such person, and he not only killed himself, but his sweet little innocent, helpless and defenceless dog.

The problem lies in trying to get someone to change where there is no desire. I have a relative who was diagnosed with hypoglycemia. I too was diagnosed with that when I was seriously overweight, and that was one of the factors I took into account when I decided I had to make changes in my life. I staved off the disease which follows; Diabetes. Sadly, my relative did not, and became diabetic, and had to take pills. Well, many, as did she, feel that as long as they can take a pill, why not stay on the same path. The problem is, it doesn’t (and didn’t) end there. The next problem is when she had to start injecting herself with insulin. At first, it was once a day, and then became several times a day. Now a few years later, still refusing to change her diet, this woman is blind in one eye and has a large blood clot in one leg leaving her unable to walk and she is now in a wheelchair, can no longer get in and out of a tub so has to take showers, and has a devil of a time doing the crafts she used to enjoy. Worse than that, she is in danger of losing her leg, as was the case with the late and beloved comedienne Totie Fields, who eventually succumbed to her illness. My relative has to have a nurse come in to tend to her, is often taken to hospital as her health is steadily declining, but still, she will not eat healthfully. Truly, there is nothing anyone can do if someone won’t help themselves, but the fact that some people’s habits effect so many in so many ways makes it difficult to just say live and let….

Where it is best to accept others for being different is when it comes to religion, politics and other belief systems, but again, only if they don’t try to proselytize others, or kill in the name of their belief. I just read of a young woman living in Afghanistan who was found guilty (was there any evidence?) of adultery and literally stoned to death. First, no-one should die for this so-called crime, second, as I wrote, was there any evidence? In countries such as this, often all one needs do is point a finger, much like the Salem witch trials, and they are found guilty and murdered. And third, what happens to the man in these instances? And let’s be honest, if she was guilty, was it not because women are forced into loveless and often violent marriages? Then you have government sanctioned and likely ordered atrocities being perpetrated against gay men in Russia. I learned that what they do is set up a date with someone and when the person arrives, they are beaten, often to death by a group of those who hate gay people. The saying which comes to mind in these instances is; Me Thinks Thou Doth Protest Too Much.” Who are gay people hurting, other than those who pretend to be straight and then, after years of marital hell, finally admit the truth. I understand how hard it must be in many instances to confess to being gay, but in this day and age, at least in North America and some other continents, being gay is no longer the big deal it once was. And in many instances, some who are gay and think they are in the closet are more like ostriches, as they think no-one knows they are gay, but EVERYONE knows. An example is, Danny Pintauro of Who’s the Boss. From the first time he spoke, I knew he was gay, and everyone knew with people such as Ellen Degeneres, Jane Lynch and Rosie O’Donnell. Now yes, there are those who shocked many, though some say they knew, I was surprised when Meredith Baxter told of being a lesbian. But I ask you; in what way does that have any effect on anyone but her immediate family? And who are any of us to judge? If it truly offends you, I have an idea…don’t watch any shows she is, was or will be in. As someone once said with respect to movie stars, just because you pay $12 to see their movies doesn’t mean you have ANY right to judge them or tell them how to live.

To wrap this up, we are all just people trying to survive in a dog-eat-dog world, and most of us do our best to live and let live, and accept each other as we are. But those who don’t, won’t or for some reason can’t, I suggest you remember these words; judge not lest ye be judged, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and my favourite, there but by the grace of God goes I. In other words, each of us has something about us, or something we do, or believe in of which many disapprove, so before we go casting aspersions upon others, we’d do well to remember that it could be any of us that someone deems wrong and decides to take action. Are you prepared for the wrath of others? I know I’m not. Think about it. If you believe in a deity, isn’t it for them to decide what action, if any, must be taken? Are we not all created in his/her image? If you want to rail against some, choose those who are actually harming people by their actions, and try not to cause harm to anyone while trying to change them.

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