Faith is a funny thing.
I have "faith" that everyone has a firm belief in something for which there is no proof. Of course, I have no proof of this statement!
So without any proof at all, I believe that we all live in glass houses. We all have our secrets, our shame, and our embarrassments that we will often hide, and for many of us, project on to others.
The old saying, "People who live in glass houses, should not throw stones," is mostly ignored, as so many people are hiding behind their faith, their belief in traditional doctrines of a religion, to separate from, and discriminate against various "others" without question, and without any action to get to know them and what they are all about.
I have faith, something I believe with strong conviction, that separation based on doctrine is just plain wrong, and misrepresents all that allows us to live the lives of personal freedom that allows us to be the very best person we can be.
I believe with strong conviction, that any form of discrimination that is based on religious doctrine, or what these days is being mistakenly argued as the rights of religious freedom, is completely missing the point of both religious and secular freedom.
In my heart, I know this is wrong. I am frustrated and angry when I hear about the various religious freedom laws that allow discrimination. I want to yell and scream, but I know that would not be effective in changing anything. As a transgender woman, I know that many of these bills and laws single me and people like me out as the "other," all while my deepest desire is to blend in as just another woman, just another person trying to make my way through this life being the most authentic person I can be. Even though I may not always be successful in all my relationships, I try as hard as I can to follow the suggestions of the Dalia Lama to do no harm! To me, that means accepting people as they are without judgment. In fact, that is all I ask from others. Feel free to be curious, but accept me for who I am, not who you want me to be or think I should be. Oh, and I am happy to do the same for you!
I live in Massachusetts and it has been exciting that as of October 1, 2016 a new law took effect that adds gender identity and expression as protected classes for public accommodations. This includes restaurants and hospitals and many other public spaces. The forces against the passage of the law have, as many transphobic groups, labeled it as the "bathroom bill," and it is unfortunate that so many people think of it as this, rather than the civil rights bill it truly is. Now that the law exists, a number of churches have filed suit against the state saying that they, as a church have a right to discriminate again allowing trans people to use their bathrooms. In addition another group has successfully filed a petition to have this law become a ballot question to repeal in 2018. Clearly the battle for our civil rights is not over.
I have been thinking about how to change hearts and minds of people. How do people get to see us and know us? How do people learn not to fear the unknown, the different, whether it is LGBT or another religion or race? How do they learn that freedom is to accept not to reject others, and allow each person to be who they are, believe what they want as long as they do no harm?
How do we get everyone to honor the idea of Live and Let Live?
I think this has to come from the grass roots of our society. I think that it has to come from the grass roots of those who have faith, those who realize that their doctrines of belief include Live and Let Live.
The Reverend Martin Luther King proclaimed that he had a dream. I am no Reverend King, but I am also a dreamer.
I dream that communities of faith will stand up tall and on a regular basis take part in active conversations on acceptance and openness and willingness to learn about whoever they may see or think about as "others."
I dream that perhaps once each month, these communities invite someone who is an "other" to share their story, and affirm their being to live authentically.
I dream that this just arises from the ground, from the roots of their faith, their belief that we are each unique and all have the same and equal rights as each other.
I dream that we are accepted first, as people learn to understand us, and that we are really no different than they are
I dream that discrimination will be a thing of the past.
I dream that families will stay together and love will conquer fear.
I dream the people everywhere will learn to Live and Let Live.
It may not be so bad living in a glass house and being seen. Especially when the grass is green and the roots are strong.
Grace Anne Stevens inspires people to find their truth and live their authentic life! She is the author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, and Musings on Living Authentically. Grace is available for speaking to all groups who would like to learn the values of, and how to live authentically. Visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .
Grace has been selected as an Amtrak Residency writer for 2016, and will be traveling around the USA in the spring of 2017 while sharing her experiences on the rails