Utah, you sadden me.

Last week, I visited the Kunta Kinteh and Gorée islands, two islands in West Africa that played a significant role in the slave trade for centuries. Imagine the audacity of human beings, just like you and me, robbing human beings of their basic right to freedom, torturing and selling them as property — because they were different.

Whether or not you agree with same-sex relationships, behavior or their rights to marry, please consider compassion, choose love instead of labels, and spend more time trying to understand rather than trying to change or judge people who are different from you. Every person on this earth is different, special in their own way, regardless of the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, their gender, their age, their socio-economic status, etc.

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But one thing we have in common — we belong to each other. It is our responsibility to open our hearts and minds and protect each other: to “love thy neighbor” and not to cause more harm, judgment or pain. Loving your neighbor doesn’t have a disclaimer that says, “Love thy neighbor, unless they are different than you, or you don’t agree with them.”

I get it — people and experiences we don’t understand can be scary. Don’t let your fear overshadow your willingness to love one another.

Emily Foxley

Salt Lake City