Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Growing Pains of Transcendence

I recently read a friend's thoughts on the recent overturning of the Utah ban on gay marriage, which I think make a really good point in this whole discussion. He represents a significant number of folks who see this topic as important, but not as an "Us vs. Them" scenario. Simply, he wants to be free to vote 'yea' or 'nay' without his motives or demeanor bring presumed, one way or another (and I intentionally have not said which side of the issue he falls on). I think it is completely valid, and not an entirely hopeless quandary. We don't have to agree to disagree, or agree to stop at nothing til the opposition fails. Believe it or not, it IS possible for both parties to be satisfied (given, of course, there's always that other demographic which just wants to see the world burn...).

Many devoutly religious, kind- and tender-hearted people are accused of being bigots, or homophobes, simply because they understand "marriage" to refer to a man and woman knitting their souls in the sight of almighty God...
 Many equality advocates are accused by the religious community of defying God, attacking the sanctity/making a mockery of a religious institution, etc. When the reality is that these individuals never wanted to have to choose between loving God, or loving their fellow man.

Notice that one doesn't have to be gay, atheist, apostate, or antagonistic to be an advocate for gay rights. Really though, trust me, it's possible.
Likewise, one doesn't have to be homophobic, violent, bigoted, or closed-minded to vote 'yes' on a proposition with a definition of 'marriage' which aligns with their own.
Really though, trust me. It's possible.
Unfortunately, at this point in history—in which you and I join the debate—things have already started down a certain course, and the myopic approach that worked (or only seemed to work) in the past, no longer suffices to resolve these issues. If we're going to find long-term solutions, we have to all take a(t last one) BIG step back, and reassess the big picture. What we begin to see is a history of folks who can't see past the end of their nose presuming to have a grasp of, and solution for, the issues we're facing now.

This generation is experiencing the growing pains of transcendence, and we are not quite able to move past the modes and methodologies of our predecessors. Astigmatism is a persistent, recessive gene. Our caveman ancestors had to make due with what they had. If one had bad eyes, it essentially led to removal from the gene pool. Our recent forefathers had eyeglasses. Not only that, but they also enjoyed the benefits of a more hospitable culture and environment, where bad eyesight didn't necessarily ensure an early death. Eyeglasses had to suffice for a couple hundred years from the time of Benjamin Franklin and the Founding Fathers, til contact lenses came around... and that has been it for the past few generations. But times are changing. We now have laser eye treatments which correct the eye itself. We may not be able to chose the genes we inherit, but we don't have to be stuck with bad vision for the rest of our lives. We no longer rely on the existence of outside accessories to augment our optics to put things in perspective. We have reached that point where we can admit to ourselves that we are not perfect, and we might not see things the same as others, and that perhaps—perhaps—our neighbor's perspective can shed a little more light on the human condition than we are able to see from our vantage point. Our generation is learning to adapt, and adjust, the world is changing so rapidly that we absolutely must go forward with eyes wide open, taking nothing for granted.  Can we agree that we no longer need to rely primarily on tradition or convention to navigate and construct our social lives? How different would our perspectives on the world be even just 50 or 60 years ago? Our generation is able to see past superficial differences, and co-exist with people of different color and cultures, religion. etc. We can answer to the inkling inside us that says everyone deserves to be treated equally, regardless of their appearance or their salary... but we cannot do so with two different definitions of "equal". Is it a bad thing to think that eventually we may not even see such distinctions as relevant? Perhaps in the future individuals will not be labelled and categorized before their needs are assessed. Everyone will be entitled to equal treatment simply for existing.
But that's not where we are. We are stuck. Bogged down by politicking and protesting. Where one wrong approach led to another wrong approach. Now there's no getting back on track without major overhauling of the system. If I may borrow a term from Bruce Lipton, we need a "spontaneous evolution" to solve this perplexing problem to the satisfaction of everyone. That is, every single--or married ;)--person on the planet, now or in the future. 

The traditional "religiopolitical" process (and it has been a long, drawn out process indeed... Make no mistake) has thus far failed to appease either side of the issue. And from where we stand, it doesn't seem possible at this point. But it is solvable, and it is actually pretty straightforward. We just have to live and let live. This means that we no longer seek to be in a position of favor over any other person or demographic in the eyes of our legal system. If Marriage is, as many would argue, the domain of religion, then I think we have found common ground. Let religion have marriage. Do away with all legal recognition of the religious rite of marriage. Does this mean an end to tax breaks for married couples? an end to visitation rights in the hospital based on marital status? and all the other little incentives that government has developed for married folks? Perhaps so... But then again, perhaps that is the price to pay in order to retain (indeed, to re-claim) the so-called "sanctity of marriage"... What does government know of 'sanctity' anyway? Why have we allowed government to dabble in affairs of 'sanctity', in the first place?
So, once Marriage is stricken from the vocabulary of government. What is to say that it can't be replaced with the term 'civil union', across the board? 'Civil Union' is a pretty darn good descriptor for a family unit formally recognized by the government for tax purposes, and paperwork. Being 'civilly united' would be one thing, and being 'married' would be another, and never the twain shall meet, As a religious rite, marriage would not be recognized by government, But, if you would like such recognition (and the government perks, and legal obligations which go along with it) then you may file the paperwork for a civil union. Nothing would prevent a couple from doing both. This seems to me to be the only solution to maintaining the religious definition of marriage, while allowing all civil unions equal recognition under the law. This scenario seems to meet the needs of the religious crowd, the equal rights crowd, and the religious, equal rights crowd. It seems reasonable enough to me. It would be the proposition to end all propositions. It would also do away with "common law marriage", replacing it with "Common Law Civil Union". Makes sense. No one should "accidentally" become married through prolonged cohabitation... That seems to be the most glaring travesty in regards to the Sanctity of Marriage, in my opinion.

Prop. 8 and its similes, have not been geared toward removing government from the jurisdiction of marriage regulation (reserving it as a religious rite and term) which would look something like... "We the people propose that government cease all legal regulation and recognition of "marriage", and forthwith to cease using this term, as it is (we believe) a religious term, for a religious rite, to be defined and addressed by our various respective religious communities..." .
 Instead, these propositions have done kinda the opposite. Soliciting further "official" government interpretation of what the prop. supporters believe to be a purely religious rite/concept. In other words, presenting for a vote a legally enforceable definition of a religious rite. It looks something like "We the people propose that henceforth, government shall issue no official license or recognition to any couple who do not meet this definition of marriage: one man, and one woman..."

See how the the first example would permit freedom of religion for ALL folks, and the other seeks to legally constrict the religious and legal rights of folks who's god/religion may not have any such criteria?
This is where the boundaries of church and state are being pushed. Those who feel strong religious convictions on the matter are not looking to tell government to butt out, they are instead asking government to get involved, and to take their side.This is simply not a feasible approach to resolving the issue. It begins to be seen as elitist, and folks begin to presume that the religious community wishes to reap exclusive government benefits for their respective brand of human relationship.
When a law is found to infringe on the constitutional rights of any citizen, it is to be stricken from the books. The constitution is the law by which laws must abide. Therefore it is irrelevant how many people voted to enforce such a law.
It is similar the process which revoked/overturned the "extermination order" in Missouri, which allowed anyone who killed a Mormon to be exempted from murder charges. In other words, the measure reduced Mormons to lower value than human life. Once it was passed, it was completely irrelevant how people felt about Mormons... the fact was, that whether deliberate or accidental, maliciously or mistakenly, killing a Mormon was an excusable offense. For a long while--much, much too long-- this law was on the books. It was simply passed and enforced by the majority/popular vote of that particular geographical area at that time (1838), and though attitudes toward Mormons became much more tolerant in the generations that followed, the law was never rescinded until the mid-1970s—nearly 140 years later. Not that it was ever constitutional... It was never a constitutional law. Overturning it did not fly in the face of democracy. It also never meant that folks who rejected Mormonism as being offensive (to their definition of Christianity, or whathaveyou) while that law was in place were murderous and/or intolerant. Nor did it mean that overturning that law was an attack on the traditional/Christian definition of the Holy Trinity, or the Atonement, or any other. It meant that a certain group of citizens (Mormons) were no longer excluded from exercising their constitutional rights in the state of Missouri. Just as the recent ruling in Utah will allow gay couples the rights they have as US citizens to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..." With equal rights to recognition and due process of law.

Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.... Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Dr Yes said...

This is so well written. thanks!