When I was about six years old, I still thought boys were gross. I was projecting into the future one day and getting quite concerned that apparently I was going to have to marry one, so I decided to consider my alternatives.
“Mom, can I marry a girl instead?” I asked in the car on the way to school.
“Well, yes” she replied, “and that would make you a lesbian … but you know that would be totally okay with me right???” she responded urgently.
I wasn’t gay. I just thought it would be more fun to have a lifelong slumber party than have to spend the rest of time with someone who had cooties. The point is, my mom always emphasized that no matter what my sexuality, I was loved just the same. I learned this from other parts of my upbringing as well – my parents’ best friends were a gay couple, my mom always outwardly supported gay rights, and when my mom was pregnant, she relied on her psychic gay hairdresser to forcast my entire future …. you know, just in case.
When it comes to politics, I’ve always come from that same perspective of tolerance. It’s how I was raised. However, when I saw this ad today, it was made very clear that some people were raised very differently:
I sent this ad to several of my friends, with a subtext of “omg, can you believe this?” or “holy sh*t.” I mean, first of all, seriously? Second of all, I don’t even know what a “pew” is. It wasn’t until a conversation with my boyfriend, Sat, that I got some perspective on my own intolerance.
A little background, Sat has taught me a lot in the way of love and tolerance. He has a neighbor with some sort of mental disorder who screams (and I mean, SCREAMS) obscenities into the wee hours of the night, nearly 20 of the 24 hours of the day. Often times, this has woken Sat up, woken me up, and sheerly made me crazy. Sat, however, insists on regularly praying for his neighbors happiness … while I’m in the corner preparing full-on warfare, obviously. He prays for his neighbor every day. His neighbor keeps screaming louder and louder, and Sat seems to be getting calmer and calmer. One time, when I was in Israel, I was putting prayers into the Western Wall, and I asked Sat if he wanted me to write something down and stick it in the wall for him. He emailed me with a short response –
“Laura, please write: I pray for my neighbors happiness.”
So, today I sent Sat the video above, followed by some version of “watch out America”. After replying “I hope they squash him” he followed up with “I mean that in the most loving way possible.” Whether or not he was kidding, which I actually don’t think he was, I realized that Rick Perry actually has a conviction, and he’s doing his best to follow through with it. I personally think that conviction is dangerous for our country, dangerous for human rights … but, Rick Perry might believe that none of us are getting into heaven unless we “take America back,” whatever that means. My point is, until we can see each other as doing our best with what we have, I don’t think we’ll be able to have any dialogue in this country that enables us to grow and change instead of screaming at each other. We all come from different places, different perspectives – I doubt that if Rick Perry was raised in my home, he would have come out with these beliefs. And, since I wasn’t raised in his, I don’t understand his perspective either.
What I do feel is that human beings are good. We want to be good, we try our best to be good. Sometimes, especially when we’re in pain, those efforts don’t pan out so well. Hurtful words from students in a high school hallway can lead people to believe they are unlovable and even take their own lives. Bigotry perpetuated by government can give ammunition to these bullies. All I see is that it’s not stopping when we are all only listening to our own sides and fighting fire with fire. Can we look beyond what one another is saying, and instead look at them as being human? In the midst of hatred, can we love back instead of fight back?
I won’t be voting for Rick, but some people will because they believe that’s just as “right” of a choice as voting to protect human rights. Personally, I hope that my future children grow up in a world where “gay marriage” is just “marriage.” I hope that they grow up in a world of tolerance for everyone. Perhaps the first place I can start is with me.