Living in a society that operates from racist and sexist values is no laughing matter – as is evidenced practically every day in the news. Everybody likes to enjoy a good laugh, and everybody wants to feel that they are a part of a happy group of friends. But what about the times when the laugh seems to be at someone else’s expense?
What do you do when you hear a friend tell a joke that plays on physical, racial, ethnic or gender stereotypes? What do you do when you are chatting with a group of pals and someone makes a remark that indicates intolerance, bigotry or sexism? You sell yourself and our society short if you join these “We’re OK, they aren’t OK” sessions.
For the sake of your own self-esteem and that of a constructive society focused on a positive future, you owe it to yourself to be decent and fair and insist that others be the same way in your presence. For the sake of your own self-respect, refrain from telling, laughing at, or in any way going along with racial, ethnic, religious or gender jokes, or to any practices whatsoever that are intended to demean rather than enhance another human being.
Walk away from them. Stare them down. Make them unacceptable in your homes, places of worship, and the workplace. Perhaps we aren’t all equally guilty, but we are all equally responsible for building a decent and just society – regardless of where we live. The world is too small a place now to allow this poorly-disguised hatred to fester. And in a time when cooperation is the path to solutions to the world’s challenges, we really don’t need anything else to further separate us.
Racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry and intolerance undermine our strength, and weaken the fibers of our society. Draw this line in the sand, so to speak – one that you refuse to cross. Perhaps this is one “in-group” you don’t need to feel a part of today.