A collection of essays discussing the various aspects of self-mastery, focus, and healing.

The Pain of Discrimination

I promised you an argument with something for today’s blog. So let’s do that! Let’s argue with things, let’s see if I can create some pain for myself. Let’s see if I can dig myself back out of that hole once I create it.

Yes, I will do this intentionally because I enjoy the process. I’m a weirdo that likes to heal. I enjoy the mental workout I get from understanding my own stuff. I actually like it. Go figure!

**Editor’s Note: This article will not go where you think it should go. This is your warning to close this if you don’t want your ideas to be challenged!**

Relationships are some of the most complicated things we do while in human form. They require us to understand where we stop and the other person starts. You’re actually watching this dynamic play out in real time in politics. Where does one person’s right to choose who they work with end and another person’s right to access that service begin? Whose beliefs or ideas or needs are more important? Who has authority? Does it matter when I’m making that choice based on things like religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation? Why do those particular things affect my right to choose?

So on one side we say it’s discrimination. When we choose not to work with somebody based on their gender identity, religion, or sexual orientation we call that discrimination. We want to force people to work with others regardless of those things.

On the other side we question why those things are different from just deciding that you don’t like somebody or that the customer is hard to work with. If I base the choice on something that isn’t in one of those categories, it’s fine, but the minute I base the choice on one of those categories it’s discriminatory. What’s the difference?

I used to be on the side of discrimination. You’re not allowed to make that choice because it’s wrong. Would it surprise you to know that I’m not there anymore?

Let’s be clear, I’ll work with everybody. I’m not fighting with my own right to choose because I have no issue with any religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation. It doesn’t matter to me at all. I simply see the problem with forcing other people to make that choice and that’s where I’m coming at this from.

I am questioning the need to make other people conform and go against their own beliefs based on the argument that certain beliefs are wrong.

The belief that any religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity is wrong or not okay is just that, it’s a belief that’s based on pain. The pain can be fear of religious condemnation. God is going to punish them. The fear can be the fear of their friends and family will think. The fear can be based on not knowing what else to believe. Refusing service to somebody based on any factor is a projection of pain in itself. The idea of discrimination as a construct is based on a judgment of the belief as being wrong.

You think the other person’s beliefs are wrong and so you label what they think as discriminatory to try to force them to change those beliefs.

You argue that you shouldn’t have to respect their beliefs because they are discriminatory and wrong.

You offer outright disrespect towards people that don’t believe as you do, demand they change, take away their right to choose who they work with, and then get mad when they don’t like it.

You defend the problem by going back to the original argument that what they believe is wrong.

What they believe is simply different from what you believe. That doesn’t make it wrong. It just makes it different. That difference should be okay.

Do I want whole groups of people to not be able to get what they need? Of course not.

Do I want to go back to a place where suddenly black people can’t take public transit or go to school? Of course not.

Do I want to go back to a time where women can’t vote or own land? Or course not.

So how do we balance this? How do we allow individuals the right to choose while still making sure everything is available to everybody that wants it?

Because ultimately I believe that’s the intention. I don’t believe that this concept of taking away people’s right to choose who they work with is intended to cause harm. It’s intended to make sure that we have equal access to services. I see that. We’re just not going about it the right way. This is what has created what we see playing out now.

There are a couple of ways to manage this. First, just let the market decide. Put incentives in place for people to open businesses that are friendly to all groups. If that means there are 2 bake shops in that small town, it is the people of that town that will decide who sticks around based on where they shop.

What happens if the bakeshop that doesn’t work with a certain group is the one that stays? So be it. That’s a hint that this particular town is not friendly to that group of people. Time to find a place that is. Why do you want to make an entire town conform? Why do you need that much control?

The market is speaking loudly in Florida right now, for example. The people are moving out of there. The conferences aren’t going there. The economy is tanking. Why? Because the right to choice was offered to some and in other cases rights were just flatly removed. The people are telling them how they feel about those things. The market is doing what it does well. Ultimately, the capitalist market is going to make some people shift if they want to stay in business. It’s just basic cause and effect.

Your argument is that you shouldn’t have to move. Okay, maybe not. But do you really want to work with people who don’t really want you around? The only reason they are working with you is because the law says they have to. The reality is you’re going to get crappy service. The person doesn’t want you in that shop. Why do you fight to make them accept you against their will?

You make yourself a victim of the other person’s choice and then complain even louder when you get crappy service. Well, that’s what happens when you try to force people to do things they don’t want to do.

All of this is a projection of an individual need to be accepted.

Here’s the loop that shows up for people that feel marginalized. The world shows them a lack of acceptance and they take that on themselves. That means they don’t accept themselves fully yet because they internalize that and it’s painful. They project that outwards by trying to make others accept them and when that doesn’t work, it feeds the internal wound. The lack of acceptance from the outside world feeds the internal wound of not accepting themselves. They get stuck in a cycle that way. It’s a feedback loop.

They make their acceptance of themselves conditional on the outside world accepting them first. It doesn’t work that way.

That lack of self-acceptance makes them yell louder about who they are in an effort to not only convince themselves but also to be accepted by the outside world. They project even more looking for an echo back that matches what they think they need. They won’t ever get what they think they need from the outside world until they fix the internal wound.

Even once they have surrounded themselves with people that have accepted them, they still yell about not being accepted by others. Why? Because they haven’t healed the wound within themselves yet. They still walk around looking for a reason to be in pain and they find it every single time. They try to validate their pain by looking around them for things that match that pain and they find it every time. Because if you’re looking for pain, it’ll show up. That’s how it works.

I believe that the government should be neutral in all this; take discrimination laws off the books. I don’t believe we should have governments that offer opinions on people’s individual beliefs. Governments should not be telling people to accept or not accept. The message should be to work with who you want and surround yourself with who you want. The only message from the government should be to do so calmly and respectfully. I can deny you service respectfully. I don’t have to be a jerk. It’s that simple.

The person being denied the service doesn’t need to take that on as a personal affront. The person is indirectly telling you what they believe. Accept that and move on. It’s not yours. You don’t have to pick it up. You don’t have to do anything about it. Just move on with your life and find someplace else to do business with.

Do I think it would be chaos if we simply allowed private businesses to choose what they do? Maybe for a bit, but it would calm down because the market would put a lot of them out of business pretty quickly in many areas.

Don’t underestimate the effect of our capitalist society on business decisions such as these.

Here’s how I would balance this to minimize disruption: private businesses owned by a single owner should have the right to choose, corporations should not. The minute you incorporate your business the owner loses the right to choose who that company’s clients are.

If I rent a kitchen as an individual business owner and start baking cakes it’s up to me who I bake cakes for. If I incorporate it or franchise it I no longer have that right to choose. I’m no longer an individual simply making personal choices. My company is now its own entity, that entity does not have the right to make that choice nor do the owners of any franchise locations.

That minimizes the disruption in services for people. There’s always a big chain nearby to get what you need. It takes away the ability for the local grocery store chain to block the entrance to anybody. But it allows for the little mom and pop shop at the corner to block out whoever they want.

Similarly, corporations should not be able to choose whether they offer coverage for birth control or gender reassignment surgery or anything else. The corporate policy needs to be neutral and include everybody and everything.

However, if the mom and pop shop has a couple of employees, they do have the ability to choose what to cover or not for as long as it remains an individually owned business that is not incorporated.

Employees in all situations lose their individual choice. Employees must abide by company policy whether they agree with the policy or not. If you don’t want to work in a place where you have to accept gay marriage, then don’t work for a corporation. Go find a small business that has similar beliefs to your own. If you don’t care, go work for that big corporation because they have to be open to everybody. It’s that simple.

You are not entitled to a job. There are plenty of rights out there, that isn’t one of them.

If we make all beliefs okay, then people can be up-front about their policies. That makes for much greater clarity when you’re thinking about working for somebody. Will this job go up against my beliefs? If you can openly ask the question and not run the risk of losing anything, it frees you up to work somewhere you’ll actually be happy instead of having to guess at what the policy might be.

Will that shut down some corporations? Yes, very likely.

Will some people take on more risk to avoid incorporating their business? Yep and that’s okay too.

Will some people incorporate to force acceptance? Yep that may also happen and that’s also okay.

It will create balance in the system and offer people more free choice, not less.

When we free people to just be who they are, beliefs and all, the relationship changes. We stop forcing each other to do things. It stops the arguments. It stops the tug-of-war. It draws clear lines about where one person stops and the other starts.

You can argue all day about supporting big corporations and all the stuff. That’s fine. If you dig hard enough you’ll be able to find a small business that aligns with you. Yes, that does make it your choice to travel or not. You can get the flowers at the local grocery store chain or you can hunt for a mom and pop shop that aligns with you. That makes it a choice, not a requirement. The flowers are available. You do not have to go out of your way to get them. It doesn’t force you to do anything. You’re making a choice based on separate beliefs about supporting small business. That’s a separate thing from the local small business’ existing policy to serve you or not.

You’ll still argue that you shouldn’t have to go out of your way to find a small business instead of a big corporation. All we’re doing here is arguing about which choice we want to make. You’d rather make the choice to force other people to bend because that’s more convenient for you. When we don’t make other people bend and you still have access to the service, suddenly it means you might have to go out of your way if you don’t want to support big chains. Well, this is what compromise looks like. You don’t get to force people into things just because you don’t want to balance. That’s not how this works.

Your final last gasp in this argument is privilege. Not everybody can go to the next town over to support small business. Cool! That means they get to make the choice to go to the local chain. No problem!

Not everybody can just go find another job. Nobody is trapped. This perception of victimization just causes pain that isn’t even true. So you tell a story about how people can’t find jobs because of this, that, and the other thing. If all they did was stop complaining and just figure out how to make it work, it would be fine. But since we really like pain, we just complain and tell stories of how much of a victim we are.

The idea of privilege is based on a perception of victimhood – people being trapped in circumstances they can’t get out of. I know there are some really challenging situations out there, but everybody can find a way out if they want to bad enough. It’s all about the story you tell. It has very little to do with the circumstances that surround you.

The theme in all of this is acceptance.

Acceptance of beliefs we don’t agree with.

Acceptance of ourselves as individuals.

Acceptance of other people’s choices, whether we like them or not.

Acceptance of hate as an equally valid way of being in the world. I’ve written a blog on that previously. I’ll link it here.

We argue with the things we don’t like and don’t want to accept and then complain when people don’t conform to our way of being.

I understand why those religious groups feel like they are being disrespected – because they are. It’s not that I agree with their beliefs. It’s that I see their beliefs as valid and I have no need to change them. I have no need to fix that.

Now you’re going to say it’s because it doesn’t affect me. I used to work as a teacher on Aboriginal Reserves and during my time there, I was very much discriminated against as a white woman. I was blamed for things I had nothing to do with by simple association. I have been on that side of the coin. I understand what that’s like.

I also know that they have the right to believe what they want and if they choose to make me a villain in their story because it validates their pain, that’s up to them. It’s not my place to change that.

So what did I do? I left the situation. I didn’t stay there. I didn’t try to make them change their way of being. I didn’t try to force systemic change. I didn’t yell loudly that I wasn’t the problem. I didn’t do any of those things. I simply left.

Go find places where you are accepted and stop making other people responsible for how you feel. That’s the moral of the story. Don’t make other people conform to your way of being because you don’t like how their choice makes you feel. Your feelings are your responsibility. When you learn to manage those feelings on your own without connecting them to your external experience, you will feel better. The best part is, you won’t need to change the external circumstance to do it.

Full acceptance requires being okay with all of it that includes the things we think are wrong and the stuff we don’t like. That’s not easy to do and it’s only through my own internal work on self-mastery that I’ve started to see the problems with the arguments that are playing out in the world.

When I stopped making the people around me change so that I could be okay, when I stopped making other people the problem in my life, I realized that it was all being mirrored in the world around me. Everybody does this and that’s why we have a problem.

My healing work on myself has dramatically shifted my viewpoints on many topics because I’ve started to see the problems with the choices that people are being asked to make. They are false choices based on a construct of right and wrong that isn’t necessarily true because the whole construct is based on pain. The perception is skewed.

I make a choice and it bothers you, that’s your thing. That’s got nothing to do with my choice.

Yeah but your choice affects me.

I made a choice and you should be willing to honor that choice, even if you don’t like it or agree with it.

But what about how it affects me? Don’t I matter?

When you take full responsibility for your own thoughts and feelings and don’t hinge them on external experience or other people, then it doesn’t matter what I do or don’t do. You can be okay anyway because you can manage your own thoughts and feelings. You don’t need me to take responsibility for your thoughts and feelings through my choices.

The idea that you don’t matter implies that you’re a victim of my choice, which you are not. That is a perception you’ve taken on and it’s based on pain. My choice is not a reflection of my feelings about you and is not a reflection of you as an individual. The idea that you take it that way is what makes you a victim. Drop the victim story and realize that I just made a choice. It’s not about you.

Now maybe you get really creative and tell me that you shouldn’t have to deal with the feelings at all. It’s your fault I feel this way and it’s your fault I have to manage my thoughts and feelings in the first place. So laziness is your problem then? You just don’t want to deal with it, so it’s easier to make the other person responsible for it instead.

The thoughts and feelings came up. Who cares how they got there. Deal with them and stop making your willingness to deal with them conditional on how they got there.

That’s a hard one isn’t it? Because we want to make other people change their choices so we can feel better. But that actually creates a lot of the problems we see in the world.

If I didn’t want to work with gay people and I refuse service to a gay couple, it doesn’t mean that the gay couple are bad people. It’s not a reflection on them at all. What it actually means is that I have a belief that’s forcing me to project my pain onto them by refusing them service.

Why do they need to argue with my pain? It’s not theirs. They can drop it and move on. It doesn’t have to be this big thing we make it into. My choice isn’t about them, but they are going to take it on as though it is and make a big deal out of it. But that’s where the problem is. They didn’t need to take it on in the first place. The pain that was created wasn’t even theirs. They picked up the pain of the person that refused them service.

The whole thing is backwards. No wonder the world is completely divided in half. Stuff like this is a big reason why there is so much pain floating around. We take on the pain of others and beat ourselves with it. Why? Because we take everybody’s everything personally and we don’t just allow ourselves to see the pain in other people’s choices.

We’ve ended up in a place where we’re going to have to change what we’re doing because the path we’re on isn’t working. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Buckle up! This isn’t going to be fun!

Now, I promised you an argument with it and for as many words as I’ve typed, I haven’t argued with it yet. My argument isn’t with what I now believe and think, it is with expressing said thoughts and beliefs.

I tend to stay out of these types of conversations on purpose. There is so much energy being put into conversations such as this, that I honestly don’t feel like I need to add more to it.

The flipside is that I know I see it differently than the majority of people that are finding themselves picking sides. I just see the whole thing as a false choice based on the human judgment of right and wrong. There is far too much ego in this choice and it’s creating a need to defend ourselves that is unnecessary.

I don’t have the judgment of beliefs that are different than my own.

I don’t believe that those religious groups that don’t want to work with the LGBTQIA community are bad people. I have no reason to make them a villain in my story. I see them as having beliefs that are different than my own. I see them as wanting to honor their own beliefs. I see them as fighting for the right to have those beliefs without being forced to change them. I don’t have a problem with that. I actually agree with it. They have a right to be mad. I would be if somebody tried to force me to change my beliefs.

My argument is in sharing this because I know that it’s going to create an argument for a lot of people, if they even make it all the way through. This isn’t a short article!

I’m offering you the perspective that I have because you may be struggling with picking sides too. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that’s spotted the discrepancy in the argument but I may be the only one willing to express it. I’m okay with that.

So I’ve written down what I believe so that I could make myself share it and get over the concerns around doing that. This article actually isn’t easy for me to share, but it’s necessary because it’s a viewpoint that not many people are expressing, but I do believe it’s out there.

If I’m choosing to show up in a space where I question thoughts and feelings, then this is what that looks like. I’m questioning the ideas behind the concept of discrimination because I believe it’s based on pain being projected at and blamed on the wrong group. It’s not the people who have the beliefs that are the problem. It’s what the people that don’t have the same beliefs are doing about it that is the problem.

Love to all.