Over on Yahoo there were two stories that caught my eye today. One was the story of two gay men holding hands in line at a pizza truck. How another man behind them began to berate them and the crowd came to their defense, telling the bully that he was out of line and that his hate speech was not welcome there. The other was the story of a lesbian couple who ate at a restaurant and were given a note from the owner on the way out, telling them that their lifestyle was an affront to God and hurtful to everyone around them. Comments ranged from those outraged at the insult, to those who tried to explain that the owner was just doing his duty as a christian to proclaim the unpopular word of God.

Nathaniel Branden is known as an authority on self-esteem and even better known for having a long term romantic attachment to a much older Ayn Rand. I read his book Six Pillars of Self-Esteem two decades ago and come back to it every now and then. One of the pillars he mentions is the practice of Self Assertiveness. He describes a classroom exercise he used to do. The exercise began when he asked the class to put their hands up if they agreed with the statement, “I have a right to exist.” Most hands in the room went up. Then he asked them one by one to come to the front of the room and make the assertion verbally. To stand in front of the room and say with conviction, “I have a right to exist.” They couldn’t do it. The words would come out, but with much fidgeting, downcast eyes, giggles, or swagger and bravado. A straightforward assertion proved too difficult.

“Self-assertiveness means the willingness to stand up for myself, to be who I am openly, to treat myself with respect in all human encounters. It means the refusal to fake my person in order to be liked.”

Today I send out the dream of a world in which it feels safe to stand up for ourselves, to be who we are openly, to treat ourselves with respect in all human encounters; in which are never required to fake our persons in order to belong.

Three morals in this story,

1. We each have a right to exist.
2. When we require another to fake their person in order to be accepted, we wound their soul.
3. Basic respect for human beings isn’t a complicated concept.

Yours with creativity and imagination,

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