I’m writing this on Martin Luther King Day and I find myself thinking about how far we have to go instead of how far we’ve come.
Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t claim to know what it’s like to be discriminated against. I’ve pretty much lived a life without any kind of isms against me; I was raised in the suburbs in a lower middle class family (blue collar) and don’t recall ever being told I couldn’t do anything because of who I am, how I look or how much I make.
I may have felt uncomfortable from time to time, spending time with people who I felt were better off than me but that was my own bias, not theirs. I felt slightly downtrodden when I was unemployed the last time because it felt as if no one was hiring middle aged people when there were plenty of younger people willing to work for less money. Once again, it turned out to be my own feelings instead of the facts; no one was hiring anyone, really, so we were all in the same boat. There were also so many people looking for work that it was easy to look for something else to blame. Like most humans, I did. Hey, it’s called human nature for a reason.
I guess I’m kind of ashamed to be living in an age where, after all the time and effort that has passed since Dr. King told us about his dream, we still have a lot of folks living in a discriminated state. And look, I realize we have biases. Some of them we aren’t even aware. You don’t think you have any? I guarantee you do! We all do. If you’re overweight, you may have a bias against skinny people. If you’re educated, you may have one against those who couldn’t be bothered to graduate from high school. If you’ve a blue collar worker, you may have one against white collar workers. See? It’s not just race or gender. We all see people who are different from us as being different from us. If you believe Dave Barry, the only thing we, as Americans, seem to have in common is that we all believe we’re all above-average drivers. (I believe the opposite is true as long as we hold our cell phones while driving but that’s another post.)
But when legislation is enacted to discriminate against groups of people, that is when I feel the shame. In my home state marriage has been legislated to be strictly between a man and a woman, effectively making it illegal to two women to marry and for two men to marry. Further legislation and / or decisions/rules have made it impossible for homosexual couples to adopt children together. These both seem incredibly sad and morally wrong to me.
The religious right (which has always seemed an oxymoron to me) appears to have driven this agenda forward with the belief that homosexuality is a choice, and a really bad one to hear them tell it. This group seems to think that, “if only those poor misguided souls would choose differently, there wouldn’t be a problem here.”
I desperately want to ask, “If you had a choice to go along with society and be allowed to have every opportunity available to you or go against society and have many opportunities taken away, would you ever take the latter?” Because that’s really the “choice” that homosexuals are making. I don’t believe it’s a choice, anymore than I “choose” to be heterosexual. I simply am heterosexual. They simply are homosexual. We’re different, at least on this issue.
If you believe it’s a choice, do you recall ever making the choice to be heterosexual? This seems like one of those big life choice deals, to me, and you ought to remember it! I don’t remember it. I’m going to guess you don’t remember it either. Why? Because it’s not a choice! It’s just the way we are.
And because it’s the way we are I don’t believe it’s fair to discriminate against those who are different than the majority.
Some folks think that homosexuality is an “act against nature.” They must not pay close attention to National Geographic or the Discovery Channel. There are constant examples of homosexuality in nature, not just in humans but in darn near every species. I don’t think that argument holds water.
Some folks say it’s a sin. If it is, why didn’t it make the top 10, you know the Ten Commandments? Look, I’m not a Bible thumper so don’t go by me on this one but I don’t recall anything from my study of the book about this. I’m sure someone will enlighten me. The thing is, if you believe in God and you believe that he created all things and you believe that everything he creates is perfect I don’t see why you’d have a problem with this. Oh, right, it all goes back to the “it’s a choice” argument, doesn’t it? That’s what makes it a sin. I guess we’re going to have to disagree on this one. Which makes us different from one another, again.
And that’s where I started this essay, pointing out that all of us have biases against others that are based on differences. I’m pretty sure I didn’t cover any new ground but I got it off my chest and that’s why I write, sometimes.
Now, if I could just get some of these laws repealed………..