"A Disease of Ignorance"
Every planet had its problems.
Some were universal, or nearly so,
such as the challenges of
Some depended on where
in the galaxy the planet was,
because the Annula had
problems with traffic while
the Fimbria had difficulty
Others were unique,
the natural occurrence of
spreading one species across
worlds where it had never evolved.
Even the jumpgates and
the hiveships could only do
so much to compensate.
There were birth defects and
allergies and environmental illnesses.
There were prejudices, too.
If there's one thing that
the shapeshifters have learned,
it's this: where there are humans,
there will be bigots.
It was the reason why
shapeshifters were so precious,
why they fared the best by far in
solving planetary problems or
at least making progress.
They could change to match
the appearance of the locals and
learn to adopt their culture.
People were more comfortable
with those who seemed familiar.
So the Blueshift Troupers had been
male and female, light and dark,
whole and half-blind and wholly lame.
They understood how to be gentle
with themselves and each other and
the people who begged for their help.
It didn't matter to them who was
this or that color, a certain shape,
more or less able, what age, or
how much gold on their chrysalis.
They treated everyone with care.
They knew, too, that bigotry was first
and foremost a disease of ignorance.
Wherever they went, they worked
against it, sowing awareness and
compassion like lotus seeds in mud.
There were so many planets,
so many problems, that they
rarely got to stay long enough
to see if any took root.
But behind them,
amongst the stars,
came the blossoms.
* * *
"Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education and free discussion are the antidotes of both."
-- Thomas Jefferson
Bigotry comes significantly from ignorance and fear. Understand how to fight bigotry and stop being a bigot.