My grandparents like to spam their address books with terror-filled articles about gay marriage and such things. Here’s a choice quote from my grandfather:
“Is “liberal” your escape from reason, or just a license to create your own morality? We have seen it all before and it is a well trodden path that allows a person to run; but not to hide from Truth. Don’t be too hasty with your judgment of biblical morality.
When the liberals discovered smoking causes cancer they virtually outlawed smoking. When they discovered homosexuality caused aids they tried to outlaw what? Truth! More good sense from the liberals!”
One of my cousins lashed out, and was promptly trounced by generic blather about how godless liberals are. To teach them all a lesson, I wrote a goddamn essay.
This whole debacle was just forwarded to me last night, so I apologize for being oh-so fashionably late to this party. But if I might be heard for a moment or two, I’d be much obliged.
Arguing the roots of this nation is fruitless. We don’t regard other nations based on what they were two hundred years ago – we judge them on what they are now. Norse mythology is no longer relevant to Scandinavia, Druidism is no longer relevant to England and France, and likewise, America’s religious roots should have little say in the here-and-now. Even if America ever was a “Christian nation” (a debatable matter, at best), we are looking at nation that has been long divided, and we must deal with this reality. Thomas Jefferson said it best: “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God.”
What does do injury, however, is the suggestion that somehow my vote for Obama is both Godless and amoral. I not only believe Obama to be a man of incredible moral quality, but but that he’s also a man of outstanding character seen only once in a lifetime. I see in him a true love for others and for his country, I see a strong desire to do the right thing, and I see the policies and the planning to back it up. I see those around me for the first time ever truly excited to be an American, hopeful that this country can for the first time in history be lead by someone else outside an arbitrarily chosen set of rich white men. I don’t expect you to be excited like me. I don’t expect you to agree with me. I respect your views and I see the validity in them.
That said, there are more important issues than gay marriage to handle. Why is the issue of two men getting married more important than reforming our utterly broken education system? Why does it even compare to the fact that over half of Americans can’t afford health insurance? Why does it even hold a candle to the fact that America has within its borders 24% of all of the world’s prisoners, with only 5% of the world’s population? There are so many things wrong and broken within our society. So many of these problems don’t even exist outside of America, too – a semester in Europe taught me that much and a half. There are solutions to these problems, and other countries have already found them. America is way behind.
Don’t get me wrong: social issues are important. But if you’re going to argue that the godlessness of the blue states is going to finalize America’s demise, I would beg you to examine the current situation in our country. Red states currently sport higher teen pregnancy rates, higher high school drop out rates, higher crime rates, and higher divorce rates (I can provide sources, if necessary). Every red states reports significantly higher numbers of Christians. If the Bible belt is to be any example, America’s problems cannot be solved by fundamentalism or neoconservatism. Our problems can’t be solved by broad platitudes, or by gross generalizations, or by a simple belief in doing the right thing. Problems don’t get solved with harsh criticism and stern disapproval, they get solved by doing something. As Benjamin Disraeli said, “It is much easier to be critical than to be correct.”
I believe Obama went and did something – and in doing so, he revamped the American political system as we know it. His campaign registered millions of unreached voters. He opted of out of the public financing system – 80% of his donations were under 100 dollars. He’ll be the first president in 150 years to owe nothing to any corporate sponsor. He single-handedly renewed my hope in the American government, and I can safely say he did the same for others around the country. He renewed the world’s hope in America, too – for even as a waning superpower, our fate is tied to those of nearly every other nation on earth. Just look at Iceland.
All that’s to say: don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Obama’s stance on gay marriage should not be the deciding factor for any person’s vote. I happen to agree that I have no right to interfere with how my neighbor chooses his or her lovers – does this invalidate everything I’ve written thus far? Does it just further attest to the liberal taint within my soul, or my complete godlessness? Please think rationally about this. See beyond red and blue. Not everything is black and white.
Respect the validity in disagreement. Honor the fact that others can think rationally and critically about important issues, but come to different conclusions. Avoid these over-simplified anecdotes and sweeping generalizations. Not all liberals are the same. Not all Christians are the same. Just look at our family: we’re not the same.
I apologize for the essay-length, but throwing one-liners back and forth does little to accomplish much in the way of reaching agreement or understanding between one another. I hope I’ve contributed positively.
I thought I should add: please don’t insinuate that AIDS is somehow divine justice over gay people. It’s repugnant simply given the fact that AIDS is currently ravaging Africa sideways and a half, and is also universally common among America’s impoverished, particularly African-Americans – unless you have a sin you might wish to label across all of those demographics, as well.
EDIT: The responses have been amusing.
A distant relative that I don’t actually know:
“I know that at the end of this election my faith is not in government, but in Jesus Christ. He has a bigger plan for all of us and he will use anything to His glory. So we wake up another day just happy to be alive and well. I know the end of the story and I am on the winning team. We still love the world through His eyes and live for King Jesus until He takes us home.”
My 80-something year old grandfather:
“I appreciate Tim’s effort to marginalize what has been said but the wordy and inane comparisons fail miserably to explain why going down a road already proven to be a failed system could possibly prove to be “positive”. Throwing more money at education than everyone else on the globe has produced a deficient product in comparison. More will do even less. Judging history has proven to be the necessary and exact measure for current appraisals. “He who doesn’t learn from the past is doomed to repeat” is a paraphrase of several political philosophers – probably a bit wiser than our contemporary young people. Seeing Obama as a man of noble character means someone has ignored his judgment. It sees him also as NOT guilty of shitting on anyone and everyone he has looked to as mentors or helpers, in his political quest, whenever they became a hindrance to his search for power. It looks past his deceitfulness when his past record, by rhetoric or votes, is brought to bear on his judgment. A look at his oration to far left assemblies and how different it was stated in a broader spectrum audience is more than a little alarming. He lied about his intentions to accept public financial support for his campaign. His sources of support have been hidden for questionable reasons. And this represents character?
The argument about red states/blue states is not proven. Those statements are inaccurate and illegitimate .
The fact that Obama wishes to support gay marriage, and abortion, represents departure from a moral code of thousands of years existence. A wise person could not possibly see that CHANGE as absolutely positive.
Sorry Tim but your argument fails to reach the level of responsible debate.”
My uncle’s father:
“‘There are so many things wrong and broken within our society. So many of these problems don’t even exist outside of America, too – a semester in Europe taught me that much and a half. There are solutions to these problems, and other countries have already found them. America is way behind.’
Tim – – you don’t know me but I know your mom and dad – – the above is your quote – – and I don’t want to sound ugly – – or start any MORE controversy – – but if this is REALLY how you feel – – why don’t you move to Europe or some third world country and enjoy your life instead of being miserable in this backward country – – just an idea – “