My cousin and I went to get our hair cut together, and when we walked into the salon, he said, completely out of the blue, “I think I’m going to dye my hair blue.” I wasn’t convinced he was going to do it. The hairdresser admitted that she didn’t think he was serious. But two hours later, he had blue hair and was singing like a blue bird.
As I stood there watching him have his hair bleached and dyed after my mere cut, I was a little jealous. I was jealous that he, on a whim, decided to dye his hair blue and didn’t give a flying rat’s butt what other people thought. And yet, I, even in my eighteen years, two weeks away from college-life freedom, couldn’t bring myself to do something that crazy, that spontaneous, that liberating!
The next day he came with us to Mass, and his blue hair was eye-catching among the people there. As I looked around, I realized just how similar everyone there was- how no one really had any defining qualities. Nearly everyone was Caucasian, all wearing similar clothes, with similar hair cuts and colors, and it occurred to me that maybe the reason there was a lack of diversity was because even in a place that is supposed to be all-accepting, there is intolerance. Granted, we live in a relatively small city where there isn’t much diversity to begin with, but even so, I don’t see much “diversity” or self-expression in church. My cousin with his self-expressing blue hair was like a flamingo in a flock of pigeons.
As much as the church is meant to be all-inclusive, I’m starting to find that although it professes to be so, many who practice the faith turn their noses up at people who are different from themselves. Not only is this hypocritical, but it is the opposite of how we are called to treat one another. If someone believes in God, asks for forgiveness for his sins, and is of service to others, then who am I to judge his self-expression? Blue hair doesn’t hurt anyone, and yet we act like it does.
Instead of looking for the things that make us similar and celebrating those things so that we can learn to accept our differences, a lot of us spend our time picking apart those differences. Judging those differences. Which we really do not have any right to do. We are all human.
“I am a man, no worse than any man.” -Jean Valjean, Les Misérables
But we are so busy subdividing that we forget this one very important fact. We are all human. What other distinction does there need to be? And since we are all humans, who are we to judge someone who is just like we are: human. I daresay that’s God’s territory.
I wholeheartedly admire the people like my cousin who have the courage to express themselves creatively without fear of others’ opinions. Those are the people who know how to find true happiness. They know that it doesn’t come from popular opinion, but knowing who you are and standing by that person.
We’ve gotten ourselves into this vicious cycle. We try to teach people to appreciate others’ differences, but after being “taught” for so long that being different is bad, the positive attention brings up residue from the negative attention. I wish I had a way to eradicate this social evil that plagues us, but I guess, the only way to fix this is to stop seeing the differences. Only when we are fully committed to the one human race can we celebrate both our similarities and differences without passing the judgment that is currently crippling our society.
So, go dye your hair blue. Good for you if you do. Maybe one day I’ll stop being afraid of judgment and finally get my cartilage pierced. Keeping up with the pressure of being “Daddy’s perfect little Catholic girl” is exhausting (God forbid I pierce my cartilage! Everyone’s going to judge me, right?). Maybe one day it’ll sink in: I am human.
“In the end it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” -Mother Teresa