If you do any research at all on the concept of evolution, you’ll inevitably find out that it is generally a process that takes quite a bit of time. A whole lot of years and starved giraffes had to happen before they came to be the long-necked, graceful, creatures we have today.
The long and short of it is that you can’t expect physical and biological change to happen over night. We know this and understand it.
What I think we fail to understand is that other things need time to evolve as well, outside of the set of physical characteristics which define a species. I’m talking about the evolution of thought.
The school I work for by day has fliers up for the month of June celebrating LGBT pride month. The school is a small one, very rural, and very similar to the one I went to when I was just a pup. I couldn’t help but think back to when I was in high school, even graduating in 2001- and there was never anything like this to be seen there. There was little to no admitting that the LGBT community even existed, much less an attempt to celebrate it, or treat its members as equals. Now though, in the space of a little more than a decade, you can visibly see the changes. These changes are indicative of the evolution of thought that is happening across the country, if not the world.
The sad truth of it though, is that as with physical transformation, true thought evolution will take time. More time than any of us are allotted on this earth.
200 years ago it was perfectly acceptable to keep other human beings as slaves. Some of our very Presidents did it. Slowly, the idea began to take shape that “Hey, maybe this sucks and needs to be changed.” 150 years ago things started to change. Slaves were emancipated, (albeit for political reasons, but that’s for another time) voting rights were established, and the road was paved for the civil rights movements which grew and grew over the course of the next century.
Prejudices still exist, but not nearly as bad as they did even forty, thirty, or even twenty years ago. The fact is, if you look at it scientifically, it is slowly being bred out of the system. We are evolving on the matter. Of course we would love it to happen faster, with an immediate elimination of hate groups and rhetoric, as well as across-the-board equality, but it just doesn’t happen that way. People don’t change, but the species does.
Women’s rights is another example. Suffrage started a century ago, rights were granted, women were allowed to serve in the military, hold executive work positions, and do damn near anything they want to. The battle still rages for equality in many quarters, but the fact cannot be denied that changes have been made since the days of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
The same thing is happening NOW with the gay rights movements. We are in the age that the 1960s were for the Civil Rights movements, and what the 1920s and 30s were for Suffrage. We are watching times dynamically shift in an effort to change what the normal thought was even a mere decade ago on the matter.
We are witnessing thought evolution. States are granting the right to marry to same-sex couples. Insurance and health benefits can be extended in some places to partners. Progress is on the move- even if it seems agonizingly slow and continues to face challenges.
I don’t want to make it seem like I’m shrugging off the battles that minorities have had and continue to have in the social quarters. I’m not at all saying “Sit, back, relax, and wait. Things will get better.” In fact, the fights need to be continued to treat people with equality and respect. If we don’t – to go back to the evolution of giraffes for a second, rather than evolve the animal, we’d be lowering the branches of the trees to continue to feed the stubby-necked specimens, and allowing them to flourish and feed and continue to produce stubby-necked offspring instead of helping to harbor the healthy and positive genetics that will allow for advancement of the species.
I am literally saying that we need to work hard to…. breed out….the thoughts that foster prejudices. You can’t change a person, you need to look at changing the species, and that can only be done over time. And when I see middle-of-nowhere schools like the ones I’m affiliated with openly supporting a community whose existence would have been denied if not suppressed ten (fine, fifteen) years ago, we’re on track. We’re starting to feed the taller giraffes and leave the old ones that are incapable of adaptation to fade to dust.
It’ll take time, all evolution does, but its happening. Right now.
Raise your kids right. Teach them to eat from the top branches, because when it comes right down to it….nobody likes a stubby giraffe.
*Yes, I realize I have simplified the concept of the evolution of the humble giraffe. Since I never figure to be published in any leading scientific journals, I think I am able to take certain creative liberties with the details of scientific theories in order to illustrate my point.