I have a piece that I do at the end of OUTwordlyFabulous called "Other." It's about not making people who are different from us into "others," into "thems." It's about loving haters and loving people who make us their others. It's about civil disobedience. It's about social change through compassion.
I performed the piece last night for a group of amazing teens who are part of a program called The Corner House. And in the post-show talk lots of them wanted to explore deeper this philosophy I proposed in my piece.
The main concern was that by being respectful to people who are disrespectful, aren't we validating their disrespect? Aren't we, in essence, saying "That's ok by me that you're disrespectful."
This was a fantastic talkback after the show and brought up nuances that I need to incorporate into a new piece on this subject.
The answer to the question is no. We're not validating their disrespect. We're rising above it. We're modeling the behavior that is acceptable and is going to make social change. We might even be shaming the others into behaving better. But that's not the goal. The goal is to model civility, equality, integrity and respect. That is what is needed and what our others deserve. Just for being human.
Something else came up last night when a young man asked a similar question to the above. I said in response, well, if all of you decided to hate me, to otherize me and to write me nasty emails and tell me that my show sucked and I wrote back to each of you and thanked you for your criticism and hope that if you have more you'll share it and I hope that you're doing well. Take care. Power to the Peaceful and Love to All, Sincerely, Pandora - That response may not mean anything to half of you. But maybe to four or five of you, it would change something in you. You would see a different way of being. You would be inspired to approach things a little differently. 'Cause love isn't for everyone, I said. There are lovers and their are fighters and their always have been and there probably always will be, I said. So, I'm not for everyone. I'm for those who are ready for me. And those who have been ready for me for years. And maybe for those who are not ready but curious. But there are plenty out there who would get my response email and just think I was a sucker and delete it. And that's ok. I can only get through the way I get through.
I don't know if I convinced many of them, but two of them came up to me after the show and after continuing this discussion asked me to come to perform at their school. :-) That was amazing.
Rarely have I had to dig so deeply during a talkback with an audience - of any age - let alone teens. They challenged me and my philosophy over and over and it was so refreshing. I was thrilled to have the honor of their attention and their thoughtfulness.
Thank you Mary from Corner House for bringing me into perform. Thank you to the audience for being so Fabulous.