I remember, one time I was helping a friend with his assignment. While discussing random things, he told me that he didn't believe in homosexuality. He didn't think that it was a thing. It could never exist. The people, such people, he told me, are at fault.
'How can you be a guy and not like a girl but another guy?' He said, confused.
'Well,' I told him then. 'I am a girl and I like girls.'
His face… I wish I could take a picture of him for future reference, to post it on his Facebook with a birthday wish some years later.
After a long pause, all he could say was, 'You'll still help me with the assignment, won't you?'
Do you ever think of reading humans? I bet you do. We all do. In fact, we read them every moment. The person sitting next to you on the bus, a discussion going on in the class, your colleague, someone, anyone, says something and you form an opinion. You assess their thoughts on the standards you've created for your own self. It is easy, isn't it?
But do you ever think of reading humans – their minds, ideas, thoughts, and experiences – without judging them, without imposing your standards and beliefs on their life? Accepting people for what they are, understanding that they too have to say something, listening to them, and not running away when you find out that their ideas are different from yours. Now, this is not that easy.
I used to wonder what will happen if we were to read humans as we read books. If we were to have a library with humans in it, filling up the rooms with their stories, with readers walking in, sitting next to the 'books', reading them with care so they might not tear the pages because books are sacred, not running away from them, but learning something, praising the story.
So when people tell us about their religious beliefs, we won't label them as extremists. When a friend tells us that he/she is not as straight as we want them to be, we would not make a weird face and run away. When people tell us that they're different, we would accept the difference and not pass our own verdict.
This is what Human Library is about. I had the privilege to attend a recent event in Durham, and it made me think a lot. You see 'books' talking about themselves, sharing their stories, without the fear of being judged. You see 'readers' listening to them, understanding, or at least try to. No one is telling them that they don't belong here.
It gives you a safe environment. One where you know that your stories matter as much as anybody else's. A place where you can sit and listen and talk. But I wish we didn't have to wait for such events to not judge people. I wish we could do that every other day. I wish we would not have special rooms for people to feel free. Life would be much simpler. This world might turn in to a better place.