Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We Still Hold a Responsibility... To Ourselves

With over 90% of precincts reporting in California, it looks bad for marriage equality in the Golden State.

That is personally heartbreaking for me, and I'm sure for many others across the country. But as I contemplate the likelihood that California has chosen to amend its constitution to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, I remind myself of a few important truths.

We still have a responsibility to love and care for one another. This is true in our intimate relationships, where our greatest chance at happiness is still to uphold fidelity, and to honor and nurture each other, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health. But it is equally true in our relationship to the larger society, even when that society does not appear to hold us in very high regard. We owe it to ourselves to be charitable, honorable, kind and respectful toward all.

We cannot have marriage outwardly, in the world, until we have it inwardly, in our hearts. What is outward and worldly, people can take away from us. They can treat us as if we are less than human. But they cannot take away from us our humanity. They cannot take away what is in our hearts. So we need to continue to live the marriage that is in our hearts and souls, and trust that if we love and are faithful, the outward and the worldly will someday come to match the inward and the spiritual. On the other hand, if we had the outward, worldly marriage but did not honor it in our hearts -- as much, if not most, of the straight world does -- what would we really have? Would we have anything worth having?

Finally, patience benefits us. It makes us finer, better, more powerful people, people capable of facing and overcoming every kind of adversity. Anger and bitterness only poison our own souls. We alone are the true victims of whatever hatred we harbor against others. So we should not be angry at those who have voted against us.

One of the lessons of yesterday's election has to do with the example set for the rest of America by African Americans. African Americans lived in this country for 250 years in slavery. Then, after slavery ended, they endured another 100 years of legal segregation and disenfranchisement. (For most of that sordid history, African Americans were not legally permitted to marry and/or faced racist restrictions on whom they could marry!) Racism in America is still a reality. Yet, African Americans never gave up. They never quit striving for a better life in this country. And yesterday, the inability of most Americans to imagine having an African American occupy the highest office in the land finally came to an end. Praise God! And how did 220 years of political segregation come to an end? Because this amazing individual, Barack Obama, was more concerned with service than with self. That's how all great things in life are achieved.

So we need to have patience. We need to love. We need to honor one another and live worthy of honor. We need to be grateful, and cherish the gifts we already have. And we need to continue to cherish and live worthy of the gifts we hope to receive. When we truly live marriage in our hearts and in our souls, and when we build our families on the principles of fidelity and nurture, no one will ultimately be able to withhold that outward gift from us.


Bill McA said...

And yet 70% of African Americans voted for Proposition 8....

J G-W said...

Yes, I've seen that discussed on other blogs. And before the election even happened, Nate Silver (on pointed out the coming collision between marriage equality and support for Obama in the California black and Hispanic communities.

All the more reason to stress that the best way forward is not to blame people for what happened. Not to turn this or that group into "the enemy." The enemy is ignorance and fear, and we can turn this around by focusing on the positive -- on how stable loving relationships harm no one, and nurture and strengthen us all.

It will obviously just take more time and patience than some of us initially thought.