April 16th, 2013
Fear – Knowledge – Understanding – Acceptance – Normativity
New ideas are met with fear. People fear what they don’t understand. So, those with the new ideas keep talking, bringing knowledge about the idea to others. They educate people so that there can be understanding. Once there is understanding, people can begin to accept these new ideas. Once enough people accept an idea, it becomes the norm.
The trouble comes when fear closes eyes and ears. When it stills tongues. When fear kills a new idea before it can even be explored. Fear can be strong, so strong, that new ideas are met with violence. Over and again in human history, ideas beget fear, and fear begets violence. When there is fear and violence, there is no learning, there is no science, and there is no progress.
And sometimes we move backwards, and we have to start the cycle all over again. Homosexuality is nothing new, it has been part of human culture since the ancients. But somewhere along the line we moved backwards, and acceptance of homosexuality became a new idea again. And it is met with fear, and sometimes violence. Today, the knowledge is overwhelming the fear more often, and understanding is growing again. But we are still too far from acceptance, and much too far from normativity.
I mentioned to gay marriage to my mother, a retired pastor, this week. Her response to me was to mention that a different denomination approved of it. Her answer to my disappointment in the Church I grew up in, was to change denominations.
The idea of multiple loves, and marriages, is nothing new. Around the world today, various cultures approve or disapprove of it for various, mostly religious-based reasons. People interpret their holy texts in the way they see fit, and base their values around it. And that’s fine, the trouble comes when they try to make others live by their chosen values. This is a nation based on freedom. Freedom of religion. Freedom of expression. But we make laws about who can love who, who can marry who and how many. Why is that even part of the legal system?
Health benefits, death benefits, power of attorney. You can have a wife and three kids on your family insurance, why not two wives, if you pay for it the same? Child custody is just as complicated with marriage, divorce and remarriage and divorce as it would be in multiple parent households. We were founded by people fleeing religious persecution, only, centuries later, to be basing our laws on Judeo-Christian religious values.
I went to church this past weekend and the lesson was the parable of the Good Samaritan. The lesson was to love, not just those that believed as you did, but to love everyone. The world gets more crowded every year, we have got to stop pretending that we are right and everyone else is wrong. There will never be peace while there is fear, hatred, and intolerance. Fear breeds violence, and violence brings change to a screaming halt.