Yesterday, something occurred to me. I promptly shared it to Facebook and Twitter, but I’ve been thinking about it since, expanding upon it.
We are all like diamonds: Some of us are polished, some in the rough, all shaped by our upbringings and experiences, multifaceted, and beautiful and valuable despite our imperfections.
I know. Depending on where you are, that can fly directly in the face of dominant cultural narratives. The dominant narratives where I’m from, in the United States, frequently revolve around one’s worth being measured by things like socioeconomic status, ethnic/racial background, nation of origin, gender/gender expression, marital status, sexual orientation, age, and appearance. (Appearance as a measure of worth is not limited to just us ladies. A lot of media directed at men has adopted a standard the majority can’t achieve.)
The thing is, these narratives were sold to us (via various forms of media, advertising, and cultural and political discourse), but we don’t have to buy into them.
We do not have to believe that a person’s worth as a human being is determined by their employment status or how much money they have in their bank account. Sometimes intelligence, education, and ambition have nothing to do with it, no matter where that person falls on the socioeconomic spectrum. We do not know everyone’s story, or their circumstances. We have not had to live their lives.
We do not have to believe that the color of a person’s skin or where they were born or their ethnic identity defines the content of their character.
We do not have to objectify, rape, or abuse women, or value their contributions to work and society less than those of men.
We do not have to deny equality to or threaten the livelihood or safety of members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
We do not have to believe that once someone reaches a certain age they are automatically impaired in performing certain tasks, or that they and their knowledge, experience, and wisdom are without value.
We do not have to believe that there’s something wrong with people who are not married, even if they don’t ever want to get married.
We do not have to believe that a person’s appearance determines how worthy they are of love or respect, or even employment.
There are lots of things we do not have to believe. The point is, we have a choice about what to believe about who we are as individuals, who we are collectively, and what we should value. We can choose to let go of the popular labels and measures of worth.
Here is what I believe, in my heart of hearts (even when I get frustrated with or irritated or hurt by people and, in the heat of the moment, don’t always perfectly embody it):
We are all here, alive, souls inside human bodies, expressed mixtures of our inner darkness and light, each with our own passions and dreams, hopes and fears, strengths and weaknesses, failures and successes, wisdom and opportunities for learning and growth, all deserving of kindness, love, respect, and grace.
We are all multifaceted.
We are all beautiful and valuable.
We all matter.