Something I read recently stuck in my craw, and after much meandering in circles, muttering to myself, and scaring people in public places I was finally able to put my finger on what it was and why it bothered me. It was the suggestion of “if you don’t like it, then leave”. That battle cry for conformity. Now as a Texan, you’ve probably picked up that I’m not always keen on those of an out-of-state persuasion with their carne asadas when we all know it’s guisada, their boosting the economy, their insistence that “oil” contains more than one syllable, but in truth the real issue is mostly with the mocking of the natives. Sure, I’d like them to pick up and head out, leaving of course their boons, but that’s mostly that Texas pride rearing it’s incredibly gorgeous crown. My personal cry for conformity is more of a “stop picking on Texans and accept that sometimes when you throw up condos where our favorite haunts used to be it makes us twitch considerably – it’s ok if we remember (with a considerable drawl) a time when you weren’t here and Armadillo Headquarters was.”
That being said, I’ve never seriously called for people who do not conform to my particular way of thinking to leave and here’s why.
We, as a global society, are at our absolute best:
- When we do not conform
- When we question established institutions
- When we refuse to accept the status quo
- When we demand change
As a nation our very foundation is based on those very ideals.
- Rid us of a monarchy
- Put an end to slavery
- Put an end to the notion that there could be 3/5ths of a person
- Recognized Women’s Rights
- Recognized Civil Rights
- Established laws around hate crimes (to protect people who do not always conform to our personal race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or other prejudice)
And while we as a nation occasionally misstep, we keep questioning and we keep striving for the common goal of creating a better world. Our first amendment gives us that right – to continue to have a public discourse, to disagree, to demand change. We are not a hive mind. We are a melting pot of individuals who bring to the table our distinct cultures, our distinct views shaped by our backgrounds. We should celebrate our differences and how each of us, with our unique perspectives, add to our strength as a community.
And on this day I am reminded of people who challenged the establishment – who dared to have a dream. And I am awestruck by their courage in the face of adversity that violently demanded they accept the status quo.
People who “didn’t like it” and chose not only not to leave, but to fight for change.