No matter who we are, how we look, what we do, what we believe in – we all have rights. Equal rights. We are all born equal, but somewhere along the line – we forget to live in equality. So, where do we begin? What do we tell our children? Why do we expect only adults to know about human rights? Isn’t it our duty to sensitize our future generation also?
These letters are an attempt by a mother to convey her thoughts around this. Do read and let us know how would you go about teaching kids that they are ‘Born Equal’?
This post is being written in association with Amnesty International India’s Human Rights Education programme.
Dear boys and girls,
“Happiness exists only in acceptance.” – George Orwell
So, do you think the above line is true?
Kabir is 13-years old and he is plump. Although he is a well-behaved and friendly boy, he does not have many friends. He has only one friend in the class and that’s Aman. Aman is laid back, slightly lazy and sings beautifully. However, others in the class do not befriend them and call them the fat-duo.
Pinky is a smart 10-year-old girl and she paints very well. She can also do amazing sketches for her age. She stammers when she is nervous and so, everyone mocks her. Girls and boys who live near her and those in her class do not want to be her friend because she stammers.
Ravi is a security guard at an apartment complex. His son Munna comes to play there in the evenings and none of the children from complex play with him. They say he’s dirty and poor.
Now, I have a question for you? Would you be Kabir’s and Pinky’s friend? Would you play with Munna?
If your answer is no, ask yourself why? Why wouldn’t you accept them? Are you perfect? Isn’t there something that makes you nervous too? That makes you slightly different from your friends?
If your answer is yes, then ask yourself how can you help others to accept children who don’t ‘fit in’. Why do you think it’s OK to accept them?
What if someone complained about how you are all the time? Says, you could’ve done this the other way, you could’ve tried harder, you could’ve dressed differently and on and on – how would you feel about yourself? Or about the situation itself?
Don’t you feel stronger, yet lighter with happiness when people see you for what you are? When others around you accept you as you are? When your near and dear ones accept you lovingly with all your quirkiness and uniqueness. Isn’t that a rare and beautiful feeling?
But, why is it so rare? Have you ever wondered? Why do we expect others to be the way we want them to be?
Acceptance is yet again, a basic human need. I’ve read somewhere that acceptance is the ability to look into the face of the present and say, ’I see you, and I acknowledge you are here.’ It is getting in touch or in tune with reality.
We see all kinds of people around us. Tall, thin, short, plump, light-skinned, dark-skinned, people from different belief systems, people with different abilities and special abilities and different genders. Do we have the right to ridicule them? Do we have the right to discriminate against them on the basis of what and who they are?
Every time you feel like discriminating or treating a person differently due to what s/he is or does, think if you’d like to be treated that way. If the answer to that question is a No, then maybe you should not be treating that other person like that either. As humans, each one of us have the right to be treated equally irrespective of the language we speak, the religion we follow or anything at all! What does it feel like to be excluded? Does it feel good when you are discriminated? The basis might be anything – but does it feel right? How does it make you feel?
If you feel the need to change something, change yourself. Isn’t that easier? To help yourself to accept others?
Also, remember – you have the right to be accepted too. However, you do not have to change everything about yourself to be accepted by the world.
As Dr. Seuss’s quotes goes, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
Read the previous Born Equal posts here.
Rashmi Balakrishnan says: I am a four year old mother. Been around for 3-plus decades. Learning new lessons and unlearning a few old ones. I try and find happiness in small things. I dream. I laugh. I cry. I hear. And I try and do. Life is all about love, laughter and light for me.