It's tough to view a news site, or even Facebook these days without being reminded of how far we still have to go in the struggle against discrimination. This week, we were reminded of what can happen in a country that's completely devoid of a progressive attitude, preferring instead to cling to their socially conservative "values" that have comfortably kept them in a place of hatred.
Thankfully, half of our country has it's head on straight. Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" campaign is gaining steam very rapidly, thanks to some help from President Obama. I do wish the president would put his money where his mouth is already and put "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" out of it's misery, but at least he's made a statement against bullying. This is the kind of good news I can get behind: the gospel of "let's treat everyone decent."
Speaking of gospel, I had a couple of conversations with christians this week. One guy blew my mind when he told me that the USA is a country that's about freedom, and therefore everyone should have the same rights. He acknowledged that if everyone were to have the same rights, it makes sense that gays should have the right to get married. Genuinely hoping I had discovered a logical, enlightened christian, I assumed out loud: "Well then, you're not one of those christians who would vote against gay marriage, right?" I was foolish enough to expect a quick agreement. What I got was a double-take inducing contradiction. Dude actually said "NO! I couldn't bring myself to vote contrary to what I feel in my heart." How can somebody admit that our secular nation should rightfully extend a certain freedom, and then proudly proclaim that he'd vote against it?
The second conversation was nearly as baffling. I was talking to a guy, and he was going on about how Christ had changed his life, yada-yada, it's a miracle (Drag-U), blah-blah. We literally spoke for an hour. We came to so many agreements about hypocrisy, and how the religious right and people like Pat Robertson are causing more harm than good. We talked about Jesus' message of gentleness and love, and how often it's overlooked in favor of fire and brimstone. Then we came around to the topic of homosexuality. Once again, swing and a miss. He said something along the lines of "hate the sin, not the sinner," which is the typical rhetoric. He spoke about how he'd be letting god down if he didn't share the word of god. So, we're supposed to "love" everyone enough to let them know that we believe they're in a constant state of sin, simply because they are who they are, and that because of who they are, god will ultimately send them to hell?!?
Needless to say, these two conversations have left me feeling hopeless about most christians ever being capable of unconditionally accepting non-straight people.
LZ Granderson has an excellent article on CNN regarding tolerance and acceptance. The article is mostly about the Boy Scouts recent removal of a homosexual father from a leadership position, and then their rejection of a couple's application for leadership, due to them being mormon, but the focus is on acceptance and discrimination in general. The article deserves much more attention than I'm currently giving it, so please read it for yourself. Granderson sums everything up very well with a quote from Trappist monk Thomas Merton: "Unless we live what we know, we do not even know it."