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Chris Kluwe: "We should all be standing up for each other’s rights"

Chris Kluwe (Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE)

Being regarded as an "activist" in 2012 was a new experience for me. I’ve never really considered myself an "activist" -- basically I treat people the way I would like to be treated and expect them to do the same. I think if we all approached life that way the world would be a much nicer place.

Working to help raise awareness of the discrimination the LBGT community faces made me realize that our society is failing on a fundamental level. We still have hate, discrimination, racism, intolerance, fear-mongering -- in short, we, as a society, possess a stunning lack of empathy.

Someone shouldn’t have to come up to me and say: “Thank you for standing up for my rights.” We should all be standing up for each other’s rights, the right to be treated as a human being! It shouldn’t be news when someone does the right thing. It shouldn’t be news when equality manages to win out over bigotry.

It should be news when someone is a selfish asshole. It should be news when someone tries to dehumanize someone else. It should be news when we don’t hold each other accountable, when we don’t demand that people take responsibility for their actions (and face the consequences for those actions), when we don’t respect another person’s right to live their life free of oppression.

I still don’t regard myself as an "activist." I think of myself as a normal person, just like everyone else. I think of myself as someone who will do the right thing because it’s the right thing, who will speak out when someone else is being oppressed, who will stand up to ignorance and intolerance because if I don’t, who will stand up for me when I need help? Who will care for me if I don’t care for them? How can I expect my rights to be respected if I don’t respect the rights of others?

There’s no trick, no secret, no grand idealism -- simply treat other people with empathy and call out those who don’t. Call them out on their selfishness, their small mindedness, their petty hate; make them realize that an exclusive society eventually splinters and falls under the weight of its divisions; make them realize that we’re all in this together as members of the same species.

This shouldn’t be considered "activism."

This should be considered "being human."

Chris Kluwe, punter for the Minnesota Vikings, campaigned against an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative in Minnesota that was defeate. He wrote this column for Outsports. He can be followed on Twitter.