We undoubtedly live in a time of extremes. And we’re constantly being reminded of this (see: Donald Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants, reactions to the legality of same-sex marriage, the notion that rap music is the cause of all evil, the notion that rap music is harmless, the silence regarding the seven Black churches being burned over the course of 2 weeks). I’m not sure how we got here, but I am sure that it’s extremely problematic.
Before I go any further, let me first offer this disclaimer: I am far from a theological scholar and even farther from having any real meaningful understanding of public policy and politics. But I am a thinker. I am a fan of logic. And compassion. And I believe that there is power when those two things (logic and compassion) collide or coexist. When you can use those as the filters through which you view the world, the picture is a bit different.
Ok, so how did we get here? Great question. Thanks for asking.
In my opinion, we arrived in this murky land of extremes because more people started talking and even more people stopped listening. Social media, in all of its gloriousness, provided platforms for people to share and then overshare. Great thinkers and writers had to share space and bandwidth with people who just like to hear themselves talk (or type). People who had earned and were given titles like “thought leader” and “subject matter expert” and the like had to now compete with self-proclaimed and self-crowned experts. And those lines are sometimes extremely blurry to the casual reader. Even folks with already-established traditional platforms took to social media to take certain liberties that they couldn’t exercise while on the clock.
What does that mean though? It means that thoughts and opinions and information that was shared before, was created and shared in a way that was more thoughtful and thought-out and calculated and it was supported (for the most part) by research and superscripts and footnotes and such. And now everybody is racing to be the first person with an opinion. Everyone is racing to collect Likes and Retweets and Shares and ad dollars. Everyone is in a rush to be heard. The result is a cacophony of voices clashing and clanging against the wall. All of these voices (good, bad, and evil) are vying for our attention and approval. But who is really listening? We can all hear them, but how many of us are listening? There is too much clutter and not enough clarity.
Women tell men that cat-calling is annoying and offensive. Guys tell women they’re being too sensitive and they should take it as a compliment. Man tells woman to have a great day. Woman tells man to stop harassing her. Schools get shot up, illegal guns flood the street, citizens rally for better gun control. Gun enthusiast buy more guns and lament over the notion that the government is a background check away from literally coming to take their guns. Citizens of South Carolina (both Black and White) demand that the confederate flag be removed from the capital building. Proud Southerners are appalled that people would assume the flag had anything to do with racism and swear that it’s strictly a celebration of their Southern heritage and history. You know, the heritage and history that included (or includes) slavery, oppression, and hatred. People of the same sex are granted the legal right to be married and enjoy the same privileges as “traditional” married people. That’s somehow translated as a complete redefinition of marriage and an attack on Christianity, as if the law and religion were the same thing.
So many voices. Extreme Liberal voices. Extreme Conservative voices. Extreme activism. Extreme revolutionaries. All extreme everything. But where’s the logic? Where’s the compassion? The compromise? The empathy? All of those things are lost in the muck. They’re buried deep down under the pile of voices and opinions and chatter. Screaming to be set free. And nobody is listening.
Guess what. Gays can get married now. Legally. And that’s worth celebrating. If for no other reason than the fact that the rights given freely to one group of humans has been extended to include another group of humans. Because all human rights should apply to all humans. It’s simple math.
Now, here’s where the math is somehow getting tricky for some. Just because this group of people have been granted a right that they should have legally had already anyway, doesn’t mean that their fight is over. Nowhere in the decision does it say society has to be nice to them. Nowhere does it say “you will now never be discriminated against”. It doesn’t grant every gay person a golden ticket to easy living. What it does do is say that every gay person that wants to get married can do so legally and enjoy the same marital privileges as all other married humans. Period.
Why is this breakdown important? Because somehow there are people who have become so aggravated with this “win” that they feel the need to point out how and where others are still losing. I’ve heard and seen some pretty interesting comparisons – “now make being black legal”, “can we make it legal to not be killed while being black in America”, “the civil rights movement is different/bigger/better”. Not only are these (and thoughts like it) far from fair comparisons, they’re divisive and destructive. Having the legal right to love who you want to love doesn’t magically make the LGBTQ community exempt from persecution, harassment, disrespect, or discrimination. It doesn’t all of sudden form a cocoon of safety around every member of the LGBTQ community or ignorance-repellant. Their fight for equality doesn’t end here.
So what you don’t agree with their lifestyle. So what you won’t attend a gay wedding or support their right to be married. Who cares? You have that right. But instead of belittling and casting a shadow over this victory, you should be celebrating the fact that society (for better or worse) is continuing to move in the direction of love and logic. Why logic, you ask? Because its only logical that humans, regardless of sexual orientation or preference, have the same legal rights. Whether those rights are respected by other humans is a completely different discussion. The fact is the rights are yours…and theirs. Ours.
No one group of people has the monopoly on struggle. No group has the market cornered on being kicked in the ass. Why are we competing in the Hard Times Olympics? America is a melting pot of ugly and there’s enough ignorance and hatred to go around. You can bet your last couple bucks on that. While it’s refreshing to see you humans out there have an allegiance to your fight and you’re standing firm on your convictions and you’re keeping all the relevant hashtags trending, you can let your guard down enough to appreciate the fact that another group of humans (most of whom also shares allegiance to your cause) is able to celebrate being granted rights that you’ve had for quite some time already. Keep your allegiance, but don’t kill their vibe.