Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Think I Finally Get it About Conformity

I’ve always been a fairly stubborn person. Life is tough, and I take it for granted that stubborn people have harder lives. My mail carrier, instead of asking me if someone could cut a path through the plants in my wild lawn, simply stopped delivering my mail without notice. Now, the lawn is my landlord’s neglect. I don’t mind it, so I never bothered to change it. After being given the excuse that the carrier thought the house was empty, I complained. (I didn’t mow, I COMPLAINED) It’s unacceptable that we can collect our mail every day and have drapes that open and close and cars parked there, and have the mail held because someone doesn’t like my lawn. If it were legitimate, they could have just said so, but they didn’t, they used an excuse. I am fully prepared for a fight, and as I drove to work thinking about the trouble that I am willing to go through (because I’m stubborn) the whole world suddenly became a little clearer. If I were less stubborn, the problem would be solved with less trouble on my part, obviously, but it isn’t being stubborn that caused it in the first place. It’s being different.

I’m different. I’ve always been different. I like being different. I wouldn’t say that I am purposefully different just for the sake of it, though, because being different is often a gigantic pain in the ass.

Plenty of people do not like it when other people do things differently. They make it hard for those who do. They ostracize, neglect, and argue, even when they are wrong. I’m a fighter, so, when someone wants to be an ass about me being different, I give it right back. In fact, sometimes even the law is not on my side. Somehow the idea of being like everyone else just because that’s the way other people want it aggravates me, and so I stick with it on principle. I never cared that life would be easier if I weren’t different. We’re not talking pick something up on the way home instead of cooking “easier”. Being different can make people hate you.

So what about people who aren’t stubborn fighters? I of all people need to understand that not everyone is like me. What about people who are perfectly fine being the same, and if they are different in any way, the ensuing strife is something they would be more than willing to change themselves to avoid. Realizing just how much trouble being different causes has made the “locker room” excuse for circumcising a little clearer to me. If stubbornness doesn’t accompany your difference, life could be even harder than it is for me, especially if it’s not something you can easily change. It’s a fight you didn’t sign up for, and have no easy way out of.

So I get it.

There are a couple of things to remember when trying to decide if you should cut your son to save him the strife of being different. One is that you don’t know if he’ll be a fighter or not. You don’t know if he will even mind being different. On top of that, if everyone were given their own choice, no one would be different, not their foreskins anyway. Better to respect everyone to avoid this issue than violate everyone to avoid it. Human rights do matter, after all. Also, the locker room is a temporary place. My high school years were spent being very unpopular, but it’s over now and as an adult, I realize it was a very small part of my life.

Don’t underestimate your abilities! As a parent, you have a lot of influence over how your child copes with his differences. Simple explanation and preparation (not to mention love and acceptance) go a long way, as I’m sure you’ll find out if your child ends up heavy, with glasses, freckles, braces, or without the coolest shoes.

Everybody is different in some way, and really, differences are good. How can we teach our children to accept and love themselves and others (and therefore change the world) if we are willing to surgically modify them without their consent just to fit in? All that does is support the idea that being different is undesirable, and that fosters bigoted thinking. Differences between people will ALWAYS be there, so for the peace of the future, we need to raise tolerant children. Let’s celebrate individuality and individual autonomy. We can start by leaving our sons intact even though their daddies or older brothers might be circumcised.

One other important factor is that times are changing. Likely only 40% of babies are getting cut right now, and that’s dropping fast. If you cut your son today, chances are he will be outnumbered by foreskins. It’s a whole lot easier to explain why you left a body part on, than it is to explain why something’s missing.

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