This is what it looks like when we give in to our darker angels

I don’t have grandiose expectations of this world. I understand that my priorities may not be the priorities of others. I recognize that not everyone sees the world as I do. That’s called “diversity,” and it helps make America a nation which has never stopped being great.

No, what I want to see- what I hope for- is to live in a country ruled by values like compassion, kindness, love, and tolerance. I dream of a country where an LGBTQ couple can order a wedding cake without a bakery owner so much as raising an eyebrow. I hope for a place where a Muslim congregation can build a mosque…and an entire community pitches in to lend a hand. I wish for a homeland which values a person for their character and ignores the color of their skin. There’s still a part of me that hopes we can wake up to the reality that the things we hate and distrust in others are artificial; they don’t (and shouldn’t) quality some as worthy only of being viewed as The Other ©.

Americans seem to have conveniently forgotten that once upon a time we were greeted as guests on these shores. If your skin is White, your forebears almost certainly originated in a foreign- probably European- land. They were the original illegal immigrants. Our ancestors took this country piece by piece by force of arms. Yet we see America as ours, as if the history of America is the history of the White man.

The victors really DO get to write the history, eh?

Over the relatively short course of our history, we’ve defined White, Christian, Conservative, and heterosexual as the norm. We’ve decreed that those who fall outside that norm are “less than” and unworthy of the rights and benefits which naturally occur to those who conform. We’ve accepted as reasonable the belief that The Other © is deserving only of second-class status…and that they should be grateful for what crumbs the White majority allows them.

It’s a horribly arrogant and unjustifiably narrow view of humanity, but that belief has been passed from generation to generation until it became the default. Few stopped to ponder on what basis the White, Conservative, heterosexual majority was morally superior; it’s always been assumed to be true. It’s just the way the world works.

If minorities want to be in charge, if they want the biggest piece of the pie…well, they should’ve been born White, Christian, Conservative, and heterosexual. That’s just the way the would’s always been, knowhutimean?

I’m saddened that I live in a world in which skin color is still considered primary and character counts for little. It distresses me that so many are so concerned with what consenting adults do behind closed doors. Why should the concern be for whom and/or how one loves? Shouldn’t we be grateful that people DO love? It’s not as if the world is suffering from an overabundance of love and commitment these days. Despite that, too many feel they possess the inalienable right to dictate what “proper” and “acceptable” love looks like.

If you believe marriage should be between a man and a woman and that homosexuality is a sin, then good on you. Don’t marry or engage in sexual relations with someone of the same gender…but that’s as far as your moral authority goes. How others live and/or love is none of your damned business. Capice??

It upsets me that we’ve elected politicians who firmly believe White Makes Right and that Brown People represent a clear and present danger to good, decent (and White) Americans. We’ve elected a President who at every turn conflates non-Whites with all manner of criminality. He rules through a hateful, fear-based vision of “American Carnage,” in which MS-13 gang members lurk around every corner awaiting the opportunity to rape and pillage on behalf of their gay overlords wanting wedding cakes.

Sometimes I find myself wanting to pull a Rodney King and scream “CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?” Why must we focus on fear and paranoia? Why do we assume the worst of those not like us? Why do we marginalize and dehumanize The Other ©? Why do we consider compassion to be weakness and kindness to be a character flaw?

I make no claim to being some sort of modern-day Gandhi. I find myself dealing with fear, prejudice, and ill feelings towards others like any other human being. I’m very cognizant of that truth, but I also work very hard not to allow those thoughts to define how I view and treat others. I try to go through life with the words of the Dalai Lama in mind: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible to be kind.”

Do I fall short of that goal? Absolutely…and more often than I’m comfortable with, but I accept that I’m a fallible human being who can do better. It’s a daily struggle, but I want to be the kind of person who accepts people for who they are and what they have to offer. I want to be the person my dog thinks I am. I don’t want to expend precious energy hating and distrusting those who don’t think, act, believe, live, and/or love as I do. Life is difficult enough without dragging that anchor behind me.

When all is said and done, all I really want is to live in a world where compassion and kindness are the norm. I want peace and harmony to replace strife and anger. I want tolerance and acceptance to overcome anger and fear.

Being human isn’t difficult…but we work very, very hard to increase that degree of difficulty. We fail to recognize that negative emotions such as fear, anger, and paranoia are taxing. They consume considerable amounts of psychic energy and wear us down. Love, tolerance, and acceptance place almost no demands on us, and in fact require little energy. If we could find a way to make kindness and compassion our default, our world would be a far happier and much more enjoyable place.

There are a few very basic things which I believe would make our world a much better place for ALL:

– The rights of LGBTQ individuals to equal rights and equal treatment under the law should be universally accepted. You don’t have to like how people may choose to live their lives, but you shouldn’t have the right to legally define them as “less than.”

– A person should be able to come out as gay…and receive a collective yawn as a response. When one’s sexuality becomes a non-issue, we’ll have made some progress.

– Marriage equality should remain the law of the land. Love is love. It shouldn’t matter whom or how you love; it should only matter that you love…’cuz Lord knows the world can never have too much of that, right?

– Religious faith should be considered an intensely personal matter and one that each citizen has the right to practice and believe as he or she sees fit. Or not. No one should have the right to force their narrow hyper-religiosity and moral framework upon those who happen not to share them.

– People should be valued based on the content of their character and not the color of their skin (Damn…I wish I could claim credit for that one). Skin color is an accident of birth; character is the product of values, honor, and upbringing. We should welcome all who have the ability and willingness to contribute. Character counts; skin color shouldn’t.

– No human being is illegal. People, regardless of their circumstances or place of birth, have a right to opportunity, security, and being surrounded by those they love and who love them.

– There should be no daylight between rights enjoyed by men and women. Possession of a penis should not be taken as ipso facto proof of the right to rule the world. The voices of women (half the human population when last I checked) should be heard and valued in the same way men’s are. Hey, if Iceland can do it….

– Politics and religion should be separated by an impermeable wall. Both entities have value and utility, but in the same way we keep ignition sources separate from gasoline, we must protect ourselves from the flammable admixture of Church and State.

– News outlets should return to delivering the news and cease acting as advocates for causes, ideologies, and/or political parties. Propaganda creates division, which creates mistrust, which inevitably leads to strife and conflict. “News” should be information based on objective journalism. It should be about informing the public and holding our public servants accountable. Our world would be a far better place if we were to never hear the phrase “fake news” again.

Call me naive, but I still believe we have it within us to reject hatred, fear, and paranoia. If we could see our way clear to rejecting those selling anger and bigotry in an attempt to keep us scared and stupid, we could create a more peaceful and enjoyable world.

That shouldn’t seem like such an insurmountable hurdle. It need not be, but when I look around me today, it looks like I’m facing a 20′ wall with 6′ of rope.

We’re better than this, aren’t we?

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