Acceptance has evolved slowly over time, and greatly over the past five years. Racial equality, Gender equality, LGBTQ equality etc. I tear up every time I see a story about someone who is able to be him or herself freely and comfortably and be accepted by their peers, their workplace and society as a whole.
Yet still, there seems to be an influx of hate groups lately. As progress in equality is made, unthinkable acts of violence are committed. I feel my blood boil when I hear stories of hate and anger over the color of a person’s skin or over an external difference beyond our control.
I taught high school choir in Georgia for six years, and now teach high school choir in Michigan. The school where I taught in Georgia is diverse. 20% White, 20% African American, 20% Asian, 20% Hispanic, 20% everything else. Culture did not decide who would be friends with whom. An Indian student had an Indian dance recital, and her whole choir class went to see her show. I asked one day where the best Vietnamese food in town was, and an African American girl said “Linda Tran’s family has the best restaurant- duh!” A boy who came-out his freshmen year was class president and voted prom king his senior year. A Hispanic soccer star patiently explained the rules of the game to an Asian boy one day in class. A boy with autism brought his favorite snack to share with the class one day- bananas. Even though other students brought cookies or chips to share, no one giggled at the banana option and instead they thanked him and supported his choice of delicious fruit.
This is only a sampling of beautiful stories where external differences did not matter. These high school students are living the life where PEOPLE are PEOPLE regardless of race, gender or sexuality. The compassion these students had for one another constantly surprised me and made me so proud to be their teacher.
I grew up learning that The Lord hopes to create a heaven from the whole human race, and that people of all different religions and with different beliefs go to heaven. I grew up hearing that a life of kindness, compassion and usefulness is the goal when working on becoming an angel. I often think, who am I to look at another and claim that I am more worthy? The Lord is the one in control! Every human He put on this planet was born to become an angel, so treating all the people with kindness and respect regardless of any difference feels to me like the only option.
To think of all the people in the world of all different cultures and backgrounds blending together and supporting one another with no prejudice seems like a long way off. But when I think of my choir family from Georgia, I see this picture unfold. These high school students are on their way to helping to world get there, and provide my memory with a model of kindness I will savor for years to come.
“Worship does not consist in prayers and in external devotion, but in a life of charity.” Apocalypse Explained 325.3
“We are all given the means of salvation, and the nature of heaven is to provide a place for all who lead good lives, no matter what their religion may be.” Divine Providence 330.4