“The lesson I want you to learn is: It doesn't matter what you look like. You can be tall or short or fat or thin, or ugly or handsome, like your father, or you can be black or yellow or white. It doesn't matter. But what does matter is the size of your heart and the strength of your character.”
These are lines spoken by Herman Munster, played by Fred Gwynne on an episode of The Munsters that aired on January 28, 1965*. The video clip has been going around the Internet as people are struggling with the latest and all-too familiar incidents of blatant racism and prejudice taking place on the streets of the United States. And even though the quote above uses old descriptive words that are inherently prejudicial, they are not used to be pejorative, which is an important distinction to be made. The message of the quote is clear – it doesn’t matter what you look like, what matters is the person you are on the inside.
People like to say that the issues of racism are complicated, but I don’t believe that. I believe that no matter how you look at it, racism and prejudice against any other human being are wrong and always will be. There was never, is never, and never will be any reason for one human being to denounce another human being.
Because no matter what point racist people will try to make to explain their views the following things are true for every human being on the planet:
When a human being gets cut anywhere on the body, it bleeds. And the blood is red.
Every human being (with rare exception) has a heart that pumps that blood to vital organs including one liver, one pancreas, two lungs, one stomach, and one brain. Every human being.
Every human being breathes in oxygen and breathes out carbon dioxide.
Every human being needs that oxygen to stay alive.
Every human being was born from two parents.
Every human being was a baby once, who couldn’t walk or talk or feed itself.
Every human being has to eat food to stay alive.
Every human being has to process waste and eliminate it from the body.
Every human being (with rare exception) shares the same brain chemicals that trigger laughter at something considered funny and cause feelings of emotional pain when experiencing grief.
Every human being, no matter how they speak, how they were raised, where they work, how they choose to spend their free time, what they believe in, or what they look like, deserves respect, decency, and compassion.
Because here is something else that’s true: Every single human being who currently has the precious gift of life, will have that gift taken away one day and will die. Make no mistake, that’s every human being.
Simply knowing that fact and recognizing it, should help us all to realize that no matter how our lives began or how they are going, we all meet the same end. So why would anyone spend even one second of that time alive putting a fellow human being down or treating them any other way than we’d like to be treated ourselves?
No matter what a person was taught or what was propagated to a person at some point, the following statements are true:
Racism is a choice.
Prejudice is a choice.
Discrimination is a choice.
Sexism is a choice.
Xenophobia is a choice.
But these are also true:
Love is a choice.
Compassion is a choice.
Kindness is a choice.
Tolerance is a choice.
Empathy is a choice.
And yes, happiness is most definitely a choice.
What will your choice be?
*Writing credits from The Munsters, Season 1, episode 19 titled “Eddie’s Nickname”: Written by Richard Baer, developed by Norm Liebmann and Ed Haas, from a format by Allan Burns and Chris Hayward.