I'm going to be 40 years old this year. I seriously have no idea how that happened. When I was a teenager, I never thought I'd make it to the year 2000 let alone turn 40. Is that normal? Probably not, but I've never been normal.
There are some serious issues being publicized these days, mostly revolving around Racism, Religion, Homophobia, and Guns...so I decided to try to figure out how I view these issues and how I got there...
I grew up surrounded by very loving and affectionate people. My parents always hugged and kissed me and said "I love you", same with my aunts and uncles and grandparents. So I, too, have become very affectionate. I'm sure it helped when I started Kindergarten in 1979. I'm not sure what your world looked like in 1979, but my world in New Jersey was full of people from all over the planet. I knew white kids and black kids. I knew kids from Egypt, Poland, Venezuela, and Albania. I knew kids that didn't speak a lick of English. No one was treated differently. All of us got along. I never saw anyone as different from me other than the shade of their skin, which, at 5 years old, doesn't really mean anything. The diversity of my hometown continued to grow all throughout my school years and you know what it did? It made me appreciate other cultures and people. I still love learning about other cultures and ethnic groups.
Going to church as a kid was always fun for me. Yes, seriously. I used to sing in the choir and loved getting a buttered roll afterward before going to Sunday School. I learned many valuable lessons in church, the type that all people should learn anyway... Don't kill, don't steal, don't piss off your parents... and while I have issues with some religious groups and people, I can appreciate the good religion can do and still enjoy learning about it regardless of my personal feelings about it. The current Pope is a great example of what religion can and should do. It should be an uplifting and moral avenue of education for the masses, not something used to manipulate or discriminate.
When I was 11-13 years old, my stepmom and dad went bowling every Monday. I'd babysit, but once or twice I went to the bowling alley with them. There, I would watch my dad flirt with all these women. Now, I'm not sure if I knew they were gay at the time or if he told me, but he never treated them differently than any other woman...he was a non-discriminatory flirt. Guess what? I'm a HUGE flirt, and yes I have flirted with both genders, but more importantly, being exposed to the gay community at a young age taught me that they are the same as everyone else, they just love "differently" than my parents did. It basically became a non issue. As an older teenager, my goal was to find a gay male friend. I really wanted one. Silly teenagers. Well, I did finally meet one in my early 20's, and we're still best friends. :-)
Between the ages of 7-14 I wanted to be a hunter like my father. I went on hunting trips. Helped my dad gut some rabbits and deer. I took the firearm safety courses. I was a pretty decent shot with a rifle and shotgun, too, but ultimately when it came down to it, I just couldn't bring myself to kill another animal on purpose, even knowing we'd eat the damn thing. However, I still have a fascination with guns and want to eventually own a handgun, yet at the same time I believe that (aside from law enforcement and military) the average person doesn't need a freaking assault rifle to go "hunting" or an extended magazine of bullets to protect themselves. Does this mean we should take away guns from people, nope, they just don't need all the bells and whistles they're always saying they have a right to have.
Now, I'm sure if you are very religious and hate gay people for whatever reasons you believe are right, I'm probably not going to change your mind. If you feel that your second amendment rights should allow you to buy a weapon with the capacity to kill 30+ people with one clip, my views are not going to alter yours, I'm sure....
However, being exposed to the "different" in this world, I think, has made me a very open minded person, who, on a day to day basis, does her best to see each person as human first and nothing more, because in the end, we all bleed the same color, we all poop, and we're all going to die when it's our time.
We should all make a point to expose the children of this world to as much diversity in every area you possibly can, education, religion, and especially social settings, because technology is making the world a much, much smaller place despite its vastness.