Because Everyone Belongs

I am not a centrist.

A centrist stands in the middle of an ideological spectrum.

I am not in the center between two points.

I am at both points, and at every point in between…

Because that’s where the people are. They’re everywhere. And they all deserve to be heard, loved, and taken seriously.

Even the ones who sicken my stomach. They’re real, too. They’re us, too.

Standing for peace means standing for everyone. Even people who don’t stand for peace. Because they are part of the human puzzle. They aren’t going to go away. And their hearts won’t soften in a culture that crucifies them for crucifying others.

There’s an old, tiring saying that I hope is on its last legs.

“A friend to all is a friend to none.”

No. Just, no.

A friend to all is a friend to all.

I don’t have to agree with or condone someone’s beliefs, words, and behaviors, in order to love them and see the humanity in them.

Nor to see the oneness that connects us.

I used to frequent a skywalk near my home, and watch the cars go by underfoot while thinking about life.

Once, I was hit by a powerful realization that could never be forgotten.

Although the cars passing beneath my feet at first seemed rather irrelevant to me, it occurred to me that each of those steel vessels was carrying a human being as real and meaningful and valid as I.

Each vehicle was coming from a different place. Going to a different place. Everyone inside each car had cried. Bled. Screamed. Hoped. Dreamed. Learned. Failed. Emerged victorious. Failed again. Laughed. Been ignored. Been accepted. Hated. Loved. Wanted to murder someone. Been horny. Been livid. Been tranquil. They’d all eaten. They’d all pooped. They’d all been born. Theoretically, they’ll all die.

If someone in one of those cars hates people of another ethnicity, or judges others for their sexuality, does that completely nullify their validity and humanity? Does it mean there is nothing to love about them? Does it mean they aren’t worthy of being understood?

I remember being someone who naively threw around some racial slurs in high school. Was mildly homophobic even into my twenties. I grew past all that, because my life course and corresponding realizations showed me a way towards love and inclusion.

But what about people with other life courses? Other realizations? Should they be abandoned? Should they be punished?

If it makes sense to you to hate someone for hating others, my personal opinion is that you’re misguided and that your method may be counterproductive.

But I still love you… And you make sense to me. Your humanity matters to me.

And so does everyone’s.

If there’s a way out of this labyrinth, that way out is love.

If there’s a way to inspire others to embrace love, it’s by showing love.

If you want to inspire others to embrace inclusion, then perhaps demonstrate inclusion, not more division.

So no, I am not a centrist. I am not some fraying rope in a game of tug of war.

I am an everyoneist.

Together, we’re more.

Originally published at Andrew L. Hicks.