For someone with empathy pulsing through her veins, I have been left with heartache after heartache over the last few years. Hate and apathy have trumped love in too many cases. As a teacher, I flip on the lights in my classroom and watch as every gender, orientation, religion, race and ability parade through my door, and if I could ensure that they could walk out with one lesson, I want them to realize that they are no better than anyone, but they are just as good.
I once read that legendary coach John Wooden would tell his players this phrase. It's simple, but it's one that needs to be heard over the shouting of hate and discrimination that's overtaking our world.
Our society plasters labels on us like we are moving along an assembly line, twisting and turning down the belt when another perceived difference comes up. By the end of the line, we've received our hierarchical place in society. The labels are nearly impossible to remove and serve as notches on the measuring stick. Have the "desired" color? Move to the front. Worship who society wants? Take a step forward. Love the wrong person? Let others by. So many people lose before they have a chance to start.
Different has become an agent of fear. Instead of honoring what we all bring to the table, too many deny a seat. We fear what we don't know, but we are too stubborn to take the time to cross the line to learn. Our country and our world will never thrive under this model of separation.
I'm no better, but I am just as good. While I prefer my religion, I'm thrilled I live in a country where others can freely practice theirs. It's wonderful that they believe in something as deeply as I do. At the core of religion is love, and how could we find fault in that?
I'm no better, but I'm just as good. I am a woman, and I promise I can lead just as well as a man. Gender has no bearing on the ability to be in charge. Little girls all over the world need to see they can reach even their biggest dreams without hitting a ceiling.
I'm no better, but I'm just as good. I'm straight, but my heart is warmed when anyone finds his or her true soul mate. Another person's love is just as worthy and valid as my own.
I'm no better, but I'm just as good. I'm white, but the pigment of my skin does not make me superior. It's fantastic that we aren't all exactly the same, and I love learning and celebrating what is special and scared about another race. It's like a piano. All keys make different sounds, but when played together, beautiful music rings loudly.
I'm no better, but I'm just as good. I am young, but I respect the time and experience of those who are older. I know I can learn from all they've done, but, adversely, they can learn from my new take and innovative ideas.
I'm no better, but I am just as good. Maybe it's my role as a teacher, but I can't sit idly by as my students are systematically herded into their prescribed lanes, and, believe me, even as teenagers, they know there is no merging or passing allowed. I look at their beautiful faces, get to know their inspiring hearts, and listen to their remarkable dreams and ideas; there is no way that I could ever allow them feel trapped by aspects of themselves that are the very things that make them special. No one in the world can make me feel any differently because not one ounce of me could ever look at my beloved students and tell them to take a seat due to the tag slapped on them. They matter. You matter. I matter.
No better but just as good. You are great, and I am, too.