Saturday, November 29, 2008

Freedom from Fear, part I

The photo above is Norman Rockwell's Freedom from Fear. It is part of a series known as the Four Freedoms which was inspired by a speech by President Franklin Roosevelt.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little, temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety," Franklin said.
He said we are accountable for maintaining our freedoms.

"We know that enduring peace cannot be bought at the cost of other people's freedom

"The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:

Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.

Jobs for those who can work.

Security for those who need it.

The ending of special privilege for the few.

The preservation of civil liberties for all.

The enjoyment -- The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.

These are the simple, the basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations."

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor -- anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called “new order” of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

"To that new order we oppose the greater conception -- the moral order."
To that new order we oppose the greater conception -- the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.

Since the beginning of our American history we have been engaged in change, in a perpetual, peaceful revolution, a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly, adjusting itself to changing conditions without the concentration camp or the quicklime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

"Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere."

This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women, and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.

To that high concept there can be no end save victory."

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's been a while.

Sometimes, there's a lot to write about.
What have I been doing when I'm not blogging?

When I'm not working or travelling to and from work:
I talk to Joey. I visit my father and step-mother. I play some of the games on myspace.
I watch a DVD from the library. I seek out old friends on Facebook. I watch YouTube.
I contemplate human nature. I think about living life to the fullest because we all must die.
I commune with the grandeur of the human spirit. I think about people who are killed in America for being gay or transgender. I think about the people of the Middle East and our soldiers, most of whom are young enough to be my child. I think about how much I want to wash my car. I remind myself not to spend money on things I can live without. People call me to dog-sit.

After attending a rally for marriage equality last weekend, I put a rainbow cat sticker on my car.
As if the "Vote No on 2" sticker wasn't enough of a way to out myself.
I don't mind the political sticker as much as the rainbow cat. It's like an invitation to a wild-eyed redneck and his pals to kill me or trash my car. But it's also a way of showing up for another gay on the road. I know it sounds silly, but we need each other's strength... and even that small signal can mean a lot to someone feeling the loneliness and isolation of a mostly unorganized subculture.

That Saturday, standing on the streets of Fort Lauderdale (Yes, we did go a long way to attend a rally.) was the last day of my invisibility. I'm still not in people's faces but I will no longer hide, either. It's all I can do for the cause of equality... and it is worth any price that must be paid.

I sometimes think about what if... because you never know how your life will end... and I want the people who love me to know that at the last moment of my life, I was not afraid to die and that I love them with every bit of my being.

Don't get me wrong, though. I'm in no hurry to shuffle off the mortal coil!

It's just become clearer than ever that the majority of our friends, neighbors and co-workers are against us. They don't understand that we need and are entitled to our rites.

"An unjust law is no law at all." - St. Augustine
"Inconsistency is a marker of injustice." - Roger Helmer
Helmer was discussing a hunting bill but you can insert any legal matter into his essay.

The inconsistency is that in some places some homosexual people can marry, some can have their marriage recognized and the majority cannot.

The problem is that good people don't recognize gay people as human beings. Especially in this difficult economic time, the atmosphere of constant concern is nothing but divisive. We are struggling, so we push away anything that doesn't mirror us. Fear drives good people to do things they wouldn't do if they were actually questioning their motives.

You know what's amazing, though. Nothing I have said and nothing I have done will be of any consequence, except that I contributed to the struggle... and I will be disregarded. That's life. Young people ignore older people. Older people criticize younger people. Fear drives us to do both beautiful and terrible things.

Everyone starts the same and ends the same, in this plane, on this planet.

"Majorities sometimes pass oppressive laws; and it is the right, or even the duty, of fair-minded people to resist, whether... "by violence, or by civil disobedience."

It is to our great disadvantage that gay people (and all of those I lump under the umbrella of the word "gay") are not a separate color of people. Maybe if you saw who we are and how many we really are, things would be different. Unfortunately, we can hide like chameleons for decades or even lifetimes behind a mask of heterogeneity.

The truth is we are just regular folk and part of every day life. Most of us are not pretty boys in tight shorty-shorts dancing on Pride parade floats. But THANK GOD for those people who have been brave enough throughout history to be unashamed of what they really are... and to flaunt it and cause dialogue.

It's funny that I suddenly concluded that the consequences of being a gay face, whatever they may be, don't matter to me now. I've wasted so much time being afraid.

My dilemma now is figuring out the verbiage for a killer sign for the next marriage equality rally.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Garth and the Ort

About 20 years ago, I worked as an instructor at an Environmental Education camp run by a college. Each group which came to us received tailored instruction/facilitation.

In the dining hall, we shared our ethics regarding waste. We encouraged school groups not to leave any "ort" on their plates. Now "ort" is a real word which basically means edible scraps. It became a kind of competition between tables.

One group of youngsters took this more to heart than other kids I had worked with. I sat with my group one morning as Garth, a skinny, pale, blond boy finished his pancakes. His classmates chided him because there was still syrup on his plate.

I reassured him that he didn't have to polish off the syrup but he looked at me and duty marched across his white-blond eyebrows. "I have to," he said. And he lifted his plate and drank from it.

There's no point to this story. It's just a memory I have, of a young boy doing what he felt was right.