I would like to relate to you a bit of a... I'll call it surreal experience that I've had in my economics class. So a little background for you I'm a senior in high school at the time of this writing and I'm what you'd call, I suppose, a goth kid. I wear black all the time, I love baggy pants with chains all over, and when I can get hold of nail polish I paint my nails black. Now, me being of the male sex, this puts some people off and not just the overtly religious. Anyway, I find myself in economics class, I believe the week of the death of Osama Bin Laden, and the subject of torture, or enhanced interrogation as they called it, came up. This being a school in the fine state of Texas (and don't take that as sarcasm I really do like it here... all things considered) most of the students here are conservative christians. So, naturally, they support the idea with a rather remarkable zeal whereas I, being an atheist libertarian, find the idea of government sanctioned torture abhorrent. However, our particular difference of opinion is not the point of this post and indeed our religious affiliation has no bearing on our beliefs about political philosophy or the use of torture. But what I find interesting, to come to my point finally, is that in the middle of a rather heated debate over torture, what it is, its ethical use (if any), a girl sitting a few seats down from me blurts out the question "why do you paint your nails black?" and instantly the whole class, including the teacher, got off the subject of torture and foreign policy and became profoundly interested in my personal fashion choices, and we spent the last five or so minutes of class on this topic. I ask you which issue is more pressing my chosen shade of cosmetic or the torture of prisoners of war. This is sort of my personal brush with the sort of larger phenomenon of people becoming obsessed with things which simply don't matter. Gay marriage is a rather heated debate in the US while multiple genocides occur around the world and get maybe an hour a week on the news if that. Why do people care about things which just aren't important in the broader context. Not to say that gay marriage doesn't matter at all, I don't think the government should dictate who you can and can't be in a committed relationship with but shouldn't torture, genocide, genital mutilation, and war be given at least equal time???

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People still seem to have an innate fear of anyone who is different, either by choice or not, and whether they pose a threat or not. This accounts for the aggression shown to both yourself, for your fashion choices, and to gays, for their sexual orientation.

I think even the most enlightened of us (and I don't consider myself to be amongst the most enlightened, by any means) sometimes has to consciously resist the initial feelings of such fear when we see someone that doesn't fit the norm, and remind ourselves that there really is no threat at all.

When that fear turns to prejudice, supported by religious "teachings" (indoctrination) and the negative depiction of stereotypes in the media, as in the case of gays, then we have to be seriously concerned. The message of "love thy neighbour" isn't exactly consistent throughout the bible...

It's a tough call, but we all have a duty to resist such pressures, and be as considerate as we can towards our fellows.

Besides, no-one has a right to judge others.

Sorry - I thought it was a rhetorical question.
I guess people dwell on trivia because they can deal with it, even influence it to some degree, and it is transient. The big stuff - war, prejudice, pestilence - is beyond their control or influence, and never goes away. They may be very worried about it, but it's the elephant in the room, so to speak.


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