Monthly Archives: August 2013

“I have a dream…”

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech in which he called for an end to racism in the United States. The speech was a defining moment in the Civil Rights Movement and was delivered to over 250,000 supporters. King became the century’s most iconic American civil rights leader and pacifist.

I want to share a dream that I had.

I’m not being facetious, by the way, I have a recurring dream that I want to share because it’s an olive branch toward the contentious arguments that have infected not only our political system, but our entire way of life.

In my dream I start a new trend.  Although this trend takes off immediately in my dream, I’m realistic enough to accept that it make take time to flourish in the real world, but I’m hoping that it can grow from grassroots to eventually become a national, even worldwide, phenomenon.  My wish is for this trend to influence not only the way we communicate, but actually change the way we live.

Things can happen quickly in America.  Who, outside of the world of dance clubs knew what “Twerking” was only a few days ago?  And now its already part of my mother’s exercise regimen.  Clearly, America has a great capacity for instantaneous participation.

Oh, yeah, what’s the new trend?  Sit down.  Prepare yourself…(drumroll)…I’m suggesting that we all start telling the truth.

That’s it. Telling the truth.

Not only telling the truth, but admitting when we’re wrong or when we have made a mistake; changing our minds when we’ve been presented with contrary but better evidence.

Sounds simple enough, right? The truth is, however, I rarely witness anyone change their mind or even admit that they may have been wrong about a position they’ve taken, particularly in politics. On many occasions I have identified the Internet smears that circulate from mass-emails to propagate hearsay or myths and I hit “Reply to All” with a link that will contain more reliable information. I then patiently wait for responses such as, “I didn’t realize I was spreading misinformation and that my source was biased and unreliable.”

I never get any.

Sarah Palin may be old news, but during the last campaign season I had repeated on Facebook an often quoted position that Palin believes dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the same time.  No sooner had I posted this when I was persuaded by a friendly Facebook foe to look into the origins of that position.  It turns out that those “quotes” were made up in order to perpetuate the perception of her as a religious extremist and a non-intellectual (the entire story stems from a a single alleged interview with a Wassila, Alaska resident named Philip Munger).  I stood corrected.

I often get into debates regarding taxes, welfare, economics, stimulus spending and many other national issues, but my resolution is to dig even deeper, not only into my positions, but the positions of those I disagree with. My motive is not simply to substantiate my own beliefs, but to also look for validation of opponent’s beliefs.  Too much information can be passed erroneously on the Internet and on politically biased websites that cull “facts” from hearsay, but if a person is sincerely dedicated to finding out the truth, and not just substantiating a pre-conceived idea, the informational resources are out there.

Will we ever hear, “I stand corrected” in a political debate? If we did, would we respect that candidate’s candor and honesty or would they be castigated for “waffling” or “flip flopping”?

Can politicians, candidates and constituents admit to drawing false conclusions when presented with evidence that contradicts their previous beliefs?

Can the body politic become willing and able to challenge, investigate and change long held beliefs?

Trust me, I’m not suffering from soul searching self-doubt toward my core socio-political philosophies and positions, but I am questioning the ability of all of us to open our minds to better or more complete information. I am challenging myself to go further and look deeper and I am challenging you to do the same.

Let’s use the legacy of Martin Luther King, whose words inspired integration, as a platform to integrate truth and genuine integrity into our public discourse. I don’t expect many hard fought opinions to change overnight, but from the ability to at least open our minds, the soil of knowledge will become more fertile for truth and reason to spring forth.

Who’s up for a little Twerking?

“As I walk through the (Cedar) valley of the shadow of death…”

This past weekend, there was an event in Waterloo, Iowa called “The Cedar Valley Pride Fest.”  58621_origIt was a day of fun activities and music for anyone who wished to participate, to demonstrate that the LGBT community is a healthy and active part of our larger community; the message is one of inclusion and to celebrate diversity.

There was also a small protest with a sign denouncing “Sodomy” and a few people roamed the perimeter to engage participants in a conversation about how they must repent or suffer eternal damnation.

The protest was smaller than the year before which I should probably gauge as a good sign, but I’m not convinced that it means growing acceptance. I still encounter a lot of people in my travels, and witness the sentiments of many, who oppose Gay Rights, yet don’t carry placards.

One “missionary” engaged me at Pride Fest as he quoted IMG95201308249513443795752Leviticus, reminding me that what I am doing is a sin, while also telling me that he “loved me.”

I feel no need whatsoever to explain that I am not gay, and preferred, in fact, to let my loving assailant assume that I am.  I replied, “I don’t think you do love me. I think that’s just a convenient way to feel better about your hatred.  What is it you really hate?  Could it be because God made people all sorts of different ways and you feel vulnerable?  My God loves me, you, that guy, that girl, just the way we are.  And He’s fine with me eating shellfish on Sundays.”

I’m not so naive as to assume that I “won” the argument, but he walked away.

This was actually the 2nd annual Pride Fest and last year there was a different protest called “A Day of Fasting and Prayer” by an organization called the “Cedar Valley Patriots for Christ.”  A spokesman from that organization said, “Our goal is not to persecute the gay community; our goal is to pray for them and our community out of love. “

I get goose bumps from all this generous and altruistic love.

(End of sarcasm)

Perhaps, I lack credibility as a spokesman for the LGBT community since I am not a member, but I AM a card carrying member of the “Society of People Who Understand Freedom and Justice” and “The Order of Those Who Have a Clue” and I would like to extend our love to those who don’t.

We understand that you’re scared and we just want you all to know that we will be there with you, to help you through these difficult times when it seems like your world is caving in from the forces of progress.

Just like we were there for you in the mid 60’s when the passing of John F Kennedy’s legislation to give “all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public” and for “greater protection for the right to vote” had your conservative forebears screaming in the streets, fearing that such legislation diminished their freedom and justice.

We even kept you in our hearts when the conservative Senator Richard Russell rose from your ranks and said, “We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races.”

And we held your hands when you whined in 1938 that “capitalism will crumble” from the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act that ushered in a 40 hour work week, a minimum wage, workers benefits, health standards, and even child labor laws.

We can forgive you, because we are a forgiving kind of people.  Just like we forgave you in 1919 when the thought of including women in our political process was anathema to your comfort.  Many conservatives, not just fundamentalists, said that the 19th Amendment was “against Christian values.”

We’ve endured each time and we will stand by your side again, with love, as your fears continue to overwhelm your better judgment regarding the natural evolution of human beings toward a more civilized, peaceful, diverse and generous future.