02/21/13 I stand by a few rules in life; one of them being, "no should ever be forced to do something or forced to be in a situation they are uncomfortable with." The key word in this thought is the word "DO".
Too many people hide behind "discomfort". One might say, "I don't like gay people, they make me uncomfortable. I don't like people who are of a different race, they make me uncomfortable." Well, here's the thing, if you don't like these people, then don't BE them. No one's asking you to be gay or to be a different race. But simply denouncing someone's rights to exist, their rights to equality, and their rights to BE, is not because you're uncomfortable, but more likely comes from a place of ignorance.
I was very uncomfortable, for many years, with being gay. And that was my right to be uncomfortable with- it wasn't something I had grown up hearing about, believing in, understanding, or something I was okay with. So I was uncomfortable that it was a part of me. Over time, I worked and strove to find comfort with who I am, and still work to this day to test my limits and learn my comforts and discomforts as part of being gay. But most importantly, not understanding something for whatever reason- because it's new to you, because it goes against your religion, or just because you don't know enough- shouldn't make you "uncomfortable", and doesn't give you a right to hate. It gives reason to avoid someone or something that makes you uncomfortable- a gay bar, perhaps- but not a right to be hurtful.
There is a fine line between discomfort and ignorance. Often times, I find myself "uncomfortable" with something, simply because I was/am ignorant to it. I don't know about this other culture, other lifestyle, other way of behaving, and my initial reaction is "it makes me uncomfortable". But more recently I learn to express my discomfort by asking questions, striving to grow and to learn instead of running away in discomfort. I seek to become less ignorant, and therefore more "comfortable".
If you don't like gay people, don't be gay. If you don't like gay marriage, don't get gay married. But don't go around claiming "discomfort" as a rationalization for your ignorance and hate. Acknowledge your flaw, and if you so choose, strive to grow to a place of tolerance and comfort.
“Parsha Perspectives” – Chukat 5778 - Chukat 5778 (In Spanish with English subtitles) Rabbi Eliahu Birnbaum – Director of OTS’s Beren-Amiel and Straus-Amiel Emissary Training Programs
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