By Darcey Pancoast
How many people do you know that have gone from saying they completely hate something, to totally loving it? We tend to roll our eyes at these kind of people, who seem superficial, fickle, hypocritical, or some combination of the three. But sometimes, I find those people are pulling the ol Green Eggs and Ham. I do not like them, Sam I Am! I’ve never tried them, but I’m sure that I hate them. When it comes to things that are different and new, there are some people whose immediate reaction is to reject it without really exploring it. It’s not really their fault, humans just don’t really like things that they’re unfamiliar with.
When that rejection of what’s different makes a person go their whole life without ever eating escargot because they think snails will taste gross, it’s not really a big deal. But, when we turn that rejection onto other people, it results in such things as racism and homophobia—not cool. But, just like the protagonist in Green Eggs and Ham eventually tried them and liked them, people’s ideas about other people can change too. A striking example of this is New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker. Here’s a man who went from being homophobic to the point of admitting to hating gays, to being outraged that the issue of gay marriage, which is fundamentally a civil rights issue, is being put to a popular vote in his state, rather than being institutionalized by the government.
How did he go from “hating” gays to this? Well, by the time Mayor Booker was in college, he was tolerant, but just so. He describes it as his “’I don’t give a damn if someone is gay, just as long as they don’t bother me’ stage.” I’m sure we’ve all known someone like this. And while it’s a great first step, there is a huge difference between being tolerant and being accepting. At the young age of 19, Mayor Booker was able to recognize this difference in himself and make a positive change—once he was introduced to someone who made the gay experience relatable to him. All it took was one person to describe the struggles of being gay, and Booker realized that those struggles were not unlike the ones his grandparents faced because they were black. He then took it upon himself to embrace and actively seek out members of the gay community, rather than just being “tolerant” of the gay people around him.
Mayor Booker is definitely a stand out example, but I believe that anyone can change, no matter their starting point. All it takes is the right Sam I Am. So whether you’re on a boat, on a train, on your school, or on a plane, remember that you could be that life-changing person, even if you don’t know it.
P.S. If you have time, do give Cory Booker’s college opinion piece a read.