Different Does Not Equal Dangerous

We often write about the idea of there being two worlds: my world, which concerns us personally, and our world, which concerns the collective. Similarly to how it’s important to recognize the difference between the two, as well as to attempt to bridge that gap, it’s just as important to recognize that our collective world includes everyone. Most of the people I know, including myself, put labels on one another. Maybe it’s human nature to find ways to divide us, or to make excuses to explain why we aren’t the same, but the reality is, we are all human.

Screenshot 2017-11-27 at 5.34.25 PM.png

Each individual has so many dimensions that it’s useless to put everyone into one size fits all categories, and just like in the image, 100% human transcends any other label we could ever think of. Besides, when it comes down to it, labels are often something we use to distance ourselves from other people. We fear difference, and as a result we categorize those ‘different’ people, and then distance ourselves from them. Fear is natural and okay. And yet, simply learning about one another would result in less fear, which in turn would result in a healthier way of living for everyone, as well as a stronger human community.

For instance, the city of Vancouver is implementing modular housing kitty corner from our school, and across from an elementary school. Many residents of the area are afraid that housing previously homeless people so near to students could be dangerous, and have voiced their opinions through protest and letters to the city. Personally, I believe that having the modular housing would be an opportunity for growth in the community, rather than pose a risk to inhabitants. Not only would we all be able to learn about one another, whilst in the common ground of our own neighbourhood, but the students going to school nearby would grow up with the knowledge that homeless people aren’t people to be afraid of. In turn, this would contribute to decreasing the stigma around homelessness, and prepare students for when we are the ones called on to solve problems like homelessness. I don’t feel ready to lead others in ways that will contribute to giving everyone a home, and I don’t know if I ever will be, but I do know that the important thing is to create common ground, and foster empathy, and the idea that we’re all in this together. Lacking connections with others, we won’t get very far. The Marpole residents’ concerns are valid, and they have a point: healthy human development comes first. However, homeless people, while they may be labeled as humans without homes, are still humans, and thus their development must also be prioritized. In fact, by establishing the modular housing, and welcoming individuals who will live there, we are giving more people homes and communities, which is definitely crucial to their health and development.

It’s imperative that we start to look past any labels, and to the humans behind them. Without doing this, we are leaving out a large part of our human community, and overlooking the fact that those that aren’t heard often have the most to say. It’s true, we are all different. It’s true, we may have had different experiences, and been in different situations in the past. Nevertheless, when we have an opportunity to be together, and learn from one another in the present, let’s seize it. Without doing so, our future will never get better.

For more information on ways to welcome the future inhabitants of the Marpole Modular Housing, please visit Marpole Students for Modular Housing. If you live in the area, feel free to drop by on December 5th, between 8 and 10am, when we will be holding a rally to show our support for our new neighbours.

• • •

Our thoughts are with those living in the areas affected by the Bali earthquake, the Rohingya people who have fled, and may now be repatriated to, Myanmar, as well as the victims of the terrorist attack in Egypt. We hope that the leaders and citizens of countries affected will think, act and react with kindness, empathy and a sense of justice. We pledge to do the same when we are affected by events like these. We pledge to be mindful of events occurring, to be grateful for our safety, to share the stories of our fellow humans, and take action wherever we can to prevent further crises from occurring.