This charcoal drawing will soon find its home on the wall and in the heart of a young Toronto professional who understands the meaning of isolation.
Have you ever been insulted, belittled, bullied, or outcast, simply because you were different?
Well, this goes out to everyone who knows what it's like to feel alone while surrounded by people.
Coming from a middle-class Caucasian family in Canada, you could say I've had an easier life than most. I haven't personally suffered severe racial hatred. And in a North-American society of strong female leads, I haven't felt the oppression of sexism too heavily.
So besides the occasional blonde joke, what discrimination could I have possibly faced?
I grew up an Anglophone in the politically-heated Parti Quebecois environment of Montreal. My family, like many others, was sometimes frowned upon simply for speaking the English language. One baker was harassed by the local language police - yes, that's a real thing - for printing the word "pasta" in his menu. Because "pasta" isn't a French word. (The Parti Quebecois feels French should always be displayed more dominantly than English. Ironically, 'pasta' isn't an English word either. It's Italian.)
Granted, the desire for a separate, sovereign Quebec state on the part of French-speaking people who are trying to hold onto their cultural identity is not bad in itself. In reality, many French-speaking citizens were themselves overlooked, belittled, or outcast historically. Hatred seems to breed more hatred...
LABELS & STIGMAS
Another discrimination I experienced while young was of the religious kind. As my mother and I studied the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses, one of the most misunderstood & slandered groups of modern-day Christians, we put ourselves in the line of public fire -quite literally. One Greek Orthodox zealot actually chased my mother from his door with a rifle!
The greatest persecution actually came from some of our own family members. Well-meaning though they were, they sought to tear down all the comforting new things we were learning.
Now, many years later, most of them have quietly acquiesced as they've seen how making choices in harmony with Bible principles has improved our lives and our personalities. But I had to fight to defend my beliefs all through that time, at school and on into adult work life. I was once systematically harassed at my job when some workmates found out I was one of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Granted, there are stigmas attached to many identifiers: Muslim, Jew, Nerd, Jock, Black, White... and stigmas attached to conditions too: Depression, Obesity, Poverty, being an Artist. ;P
I think it's in each person's power not to buy into those stigmas. "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent," said Eleanor Roosevelt.
Why Does Different = Bad?
Why do people look down on others -or themselves- for being different from each other? Seems you can be belittled both for being too loud, or for being too quiet. For being too dumb, or too smart; for being too fat, or too skinny; too Right Wing, too Left; too popular or too "Nine Lives" -lame!
Can we not just agree that being different from one another is okay?
If you are being bullied or you feel alone or "different", remember that millions of other people are facing the same battle alongside you, and you are therefore not alone. Besides, being "different" is what keeps life interesting! So... vive les differences! (Embrace the different!)
This charcoal drawing will soon find its home on the wall and in the heart of a young Toronto professional who has been privileged enough to be different from those around her. All the power to her!
The Dutch drama Spijt! (Regret) is on Netflix.
It was a gripping drama on bullying.
Check out the trailer here:
The whiteboard animation
"Beat a Bully Without Using Your Fists"
has helped kids in classrooms around the world: