Bob Marley, considered the first superstar from Jamaica, a Third World country, was one of the most charismatic and influencial performers of his time. One of my favorite songs of his is “One Love, One Heart,” with the next line being, “let’s get together and feel all right.” How profound his words are in today’s day and time. The nations of our world, and it’s people, are struggling to find a common ground. Where do we all fit into the Universe’s grand scheme of things?
As I wrote in a previous blog, I truly believe that we are in the midst of a spectacular awakening. Part of that awakening is coming to the realization that we really do need to find ways to live in peace and harmony with each other regardless of color, race, nationality, religion, sexual preference, or walk of life. One of the greatest things I love about our world is the diversity! We are all on this planet together, with no other place to go, so why can’t we all just get along? That’s probably one of the greatest questions of mankind.
My first real encounter with a different race (other than in general) was when I lived on an Indian reservation in British Columbia. I had seen the movie “Billy Jack” and fell in love with the Indian people. It was actually through a student missionary program through our church. But when I got up there and went through a week of training, I was shocked to see the various religions fighting over who would “save” the “savages!” Fortunately, I had the frame of mind at the time not to buy into it and decided that I was just going to love and accept them as they were. Therefore, I made some life-long friendships that I hold dear to this day. Consequently, the staff psychologist said that I was the only student who did not experience any culture shock.
One year, I went up to visit, and one of my friends and I went to a PowWow. It wasn’t until the end of the PowWow, and after the friendship dance where everyone dances in a circle, when I noticed that I was the only white person there. I mentioned this to my friend, and she paid me one of the greatest and most cherished compliments I have every received. She said, “Karen, when you’re up here, we don’t even consider you as being white.” I may not have been Indian in my blood, but I was Indian in my heart.
A few years later, I moved to Los Angeles from a small town in Ohio, and I really had quite an awakening as to just how diverse our world is. Los Angeles is filled with people from all areas of diversity; every color, religion, nationality, and walk of life. Three experiences stand out in my mind, which I would like to share with you.
First, even though I wasn’t bigoted, I could be a pretty judgemental cookie at times. My religious beliefs were very black and white, and if people didn’t believe the way I did, I believed they were going to hell. What was ironic was that before I moved to L.A., I was told by several people, including my minister, that I was going to go to hell just for going to L.A. and for wanting to pursue an acting career! I could handle color diversity, as I always considered myself color-blind when it came to people. It was the rest of it that I judged.
My first big awakening came when I went to a Hungarian dance with a friend. When we got there, there was a very tall person on the dance floor. I didn’t know if he was a cross dresser (a man dressed like a woman) or a transsexual (having the operation). I had never met anyone like this before, and at the time, nor was I going to meet him/her. I remember commenting to my friend, "That thing isn't even human!" It totally disgusted me.
Not long afterwards, I had gone into a Christian bookstore on Hollywood Boulevard and, to my surprise, the clerk was another transsexual. He had been a man, became a woman, was "saved," and was in the process of becoming a man again. He looked like a man, but still needed to have the operations. While I was there, an acquaintance from church arrived bringing another transsexual with him. He had been a man, became a woman, became "saved," and was going to become a man again (though he still looked like a woman). Before I left, my acquaintance suggested we all hold hands in a circle and pray together. (We were the only ones in the bookstore.) Here I am standing in a circle, holding hands with a transsexual on both sides of me, praying, and trying not to freak out. It was during the prayer that a voice spoke very clearly in my mind, "See, Karen, these are my children, and I love them just as much as any of my children." Oh. It didn't really change my mind right then and there, but it started to melt my heart, even if just so slightly.
The third experience was when I was walking back to work from lunch (still in L.A.). A woman stopped me on a corner and asked if I knew if the police were down the street. It dawned on me (and shocked me) that I was speaking to a prostitute. I became flustered and didn’t know what to say to her. I had never spoken to a woman of the evening before. When I got back to work, I told my co-workers about it, and one replied, “Karen, she’s a person like anyone else.” Oh. Again, it didn’t sink in then and there, but it further began melting my heart.
While in L.A., I met and became friends with a wide diversity of people. All colors, nationalities, religions, and walks of life. I was still pretty judgmental, but I was learning. That’s one thing I miss about living in a big city is the diversity.
As the years came and went, I met many more people who added to my diversity experience. I met and became friends with gays and found that they are some of the most kindest, loving people. I have a very dear friend who is a practicing Muslim. I am also friends with many Eastern Indians and many more. I cherish all those relationships.
One thing that I am learning is that we really are all one. If you take the most powerful microscope and put a tiny piece of each of us under the lens, you would find that we are all made of the very exact same thing. Under that microscope, you don’t see color, nationality, sexual preference, religion, or walks of life. You see life energy. An energy of pure, unconditional, perfect love.
Hate is taught. It is a learned behavior. And when we don’t know any better, we buy into it for whatever reasons. The wonderful thing, though, is that we can turn that hate around and learn to love. As in another previous blog that I wrote, hate is a thought and you can change your thoughts.
My life is so much more enriched and blessed because I have learned to embrace diversity. I wish I had more contact with it than I do now. I feel so much love for all people. (I do have a major issue with tailgaters, though. Grin.) I still have my moments where I will go into judgmental mode, but fortunately, it’s not a hate mode, and my inner spirit will quickly talk me out of it.
I would really like to invite everyone to learn to love all people…all living beings regardless of our differences. Rather than focus on differences, let’s focus on what we have in common, whether it’s in our personal lives, our work lives, as a nation, or as a world. Of course, there will be those who are happy hating and feel justified in doing so, and no matter what you say, you will not change their minds. That’s fine and has nothing to do with anyone else. It’s what we do as individuals that count. As more and more people join the collective consciousness of pure, unconditional perfect love, we can change the world! Unity (the church I attend) sings a song after every service that says, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” And as Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”