Love is patient, love is kind.

Last week I saw something really beautiful that had been posted on Facebook by a friend of mine. It was a wonderfully edited video by Ad Council (USA) showing the importance of love – check it out below. Now I am not a lovey dovey person, at all. In fact I am the person that pretends to vomit at the glimpse of any PDA. But with this the focus is very much on the wider sense of love, community and acceptance; which I am all for! The x-ray screen hides the visual differences between people; gender, ethnicity, age, disability and instead reduces the individuals to our basic human form, a skeleton. An image that everyone will recognise and be able to associate themselves with. No one immediately disassociates because of skin colour or age or any other defining feature of the people behind the screen and so when each individual reveals themselves people are perhaps surprised, maybe a little bit shocked, confused, or simply warmed by what they see. Which for a viewer is delightful.

I adore this video because the focus is not on romantic love, but very much on the love we should have for one another as human beings, which is so often lost within our society these days and from that spawns respect, acceptance, trust and loyalty. All good things.

I’m Northern Irish and my little country has been torn apart by hate. The worst thing about it all? Both sides fighting each other are Christian, they define themselves by Protestantism and Catholicism. It’s a long, long story and I shan’t get into it here but the atrocities that took place were truly awful. Now, the conflict is reducing and community relationships are getting better. Many steps have been made and thankfully the majority of people in Northern Ireland think the conflict is idiotic, cowardly and events that happened during the height of the conflict, known as ‘The Troubles’ were a disgrace. BUT there is still a lot of hate. I wonder if showing this video or something very similar to more people would help open minds and make people think – it could have some sort of ripple effect if followed up by something else in a few months time. It’s perhaps something the Northern Irish assembly should think about backing, as a public advertisement campaign maybe? The ones we currently have are, excuse my French, just a bit shit. They are normally way too cheesy, childish or have some sort of evil undertone and 99% of them are negative. Negative reinforcement is not the way forward for social change!!!! Which is why I REALLY love this video, the important message it sends out and the positive way in which it does this.

One thing I would have liked to have seen, and I am playing devil’s advocate here and stirring the pot, are the reactions of people who maybe held a ‘negative’ view, after the big reveal – if there were any? One thing right now that is a hot topic, at least to me, is LGBT issues and equality. Again my little country can be really very backward at times when it comes to things such as LGBT, the blame is almost always on religious views for this backwardness; which is a complete cop out! Yes, much of religion is battling with the idea of open homosexuality within the church and there was a lot of debate recently about the status of ‘marriage’ versus ‘civil partnership’ BUT at no point has the church ever said that we should not show love to any person – some crazy extremists have but I don’t think I have ever heard of a church as a whole saying this, I may be wrong and those churches are probably out there somewhere but I have never encountered this. There have been some problems in Northern Ireland regarding LGBT rights and homophobia experienced by individuals but there are organisations trying to combat this. The Rainbow Project for example is fantastic and our Pride Parade is incredibly fun and has become increasingly popular amongst the community, held in Belfast over the summer every year. The popularity and types of events held during the course of Pride Week compared to what there had been in the past, even just five years ago, shows how our community has changed and become more accepting as a whole; which is not to say that there is still more to be done but things are changing for the better.

One example of current progressing social change that I do want to highlight are the attitudes towards individuals with disabilities, many countries have come a long way over the last century. Not so long ago anyone with a disability was considered by our societies as a second class citizen, not useful to society or able to do anything of worth. It was completely normal that they suffered extreme abuse both physical and mental. Unfortunately this is still the case in many countries today but I want to applaud the progress made especially within the past century within some countries that have addressed these issues. I hope this new attitude towards individuals considered to have a disability spreads between countries and changes the way they are viewed and treated within society.

We as individuals need to address bias, and we as global citizens need to be the social change we want to see! There is absolutely no point in taking a back seat and letting crazy extremists (by crazy extremist I mean someone who believes that a homosexual/disabled/racially different/religious individual etc should be killed for the reason that they are different) take charge by polluting the minds of populations – which is happening, they certainly are active citizens there is no denying that. I know some of these issues are challenging but that is why I want to encourage debate, asking questions and researching the things that you find daunting or confusing, because only then will you make your own opinion on whatever issue you are considering and then we can stop taking other’s opinions for granted. Sometimes the most idolised people aren’t always right. This includes the beliefs of our parents, friends, governments, neighbours, whoever. Make your own opinion and stop letting people dictate what is “right” and “wrong”. As a child I remember being told that we shouldn’t have friends of other religions (I think they probably meant Protestant or Catholic but I’m going to use this as a more general example) – do you know how crazy that sounds?!?! Luckily I was stubborn child, my mother described me as a feminist when I was about seven because I was horrified that as a girl I was not expected to climb trees and lift bails of hay like my male cousins – I’ve always been about equality. I’m also incredibly fortunate as a young adult to have friends of many religions and cultural backgrounds, people I have learnt so much from and can hold healthy debate with even if our opinions differ.

I hold the belief that we as humans are inherently good, and that it is only after being influenced as we grow up that we can become slightly ‘tainted’ for want of a better word; but I genuinely believe that people are inherently good. I shall end my rant with some Ghandi “be the change you want to see in the world” and “even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth”. Well said Ghandi, well said.

I am well aware that for some this is a controversial topic, but all input is openly welcomed and I am a firm believer in healthy debate. Just remember to show a bit of respect within the debate to the opposition, if I think you’ve been completely insensitive or disrespectful your comment will be deleted, sorry but I hold the power here! Mwahahaha 🙂