I have had the chance to visit in his home, and chat with him and Joy over lunches at Mexican Villa, a local Springfield diner. Ken is a retired professor and accountant, a fiscal conservative, and yet also a seemingly compassionate man. His blog, The Brown Perspective is a mixture of family history and reflections on curret events and philosophy.
In today's post, Ken talks about choices, and how choice can be defined differently by where one is in the process. He points out how a situation can look like "a choice" or "an unchosen circumstance," depending on whether one is actually in the situation, or merely judging it from the outside.
His first example - the "choice" to be homosexual - is one that is rather popular down here in the Ozark buckle of the Bible Belt. Strangely, however, the only folks who appear to believe that homosexuality is a choice are the ones who stand most to benefit by homosexuality being a choice - Christian fundamentalists.
Let's face it: what person, no matter their level of sanity, would choose homosexuality - especially in this particular neighborhood? Hmmm...let's see...
- A vast marjority of those who are in any position of power or prestige almost unanimously profess to reject gays - mostly because it's a cheap and easy way to recruit the votes of "righteous folk.".
- Gays are put down, bullied and abused from their youngest memories well into adulthood.
- Gays are assured by the vast majority of Christian leadership that their lives and loves are "abomination" and that their only choices are repentance/celibacy/lonely death, or eternal damnation.
- Gays receive almost no benefit from joint taxes, joint-property ownership or survivorship, because these are the benefit of marriage, and these benefits are reserved (evidently) to those who are going to support a Godly, child-producing lifestyle. (Never mind that a significant portion of straight couples who do marry (a) do not believe in God or attend church and/or (b) have no intention whatsoever of having children.)
- If a gay person ends up in the hospital intensive-care-unit, his gay partner is not allowed to be with him in ICU - because that privilege is reserved for family, and two men (or two women) could never, ever, be a family. They would much rather the gay person die alone than have that kind of crap going on in a decent hospital.
- No matter how often it is proved otherwise, the supposed mainstream of America sees gays and lesbians as drug-addled, disease-infested, irresponsible sex-fiends who all want to seduce decent "normal" children into their evil lifestyle.
Here's the heart of the issue, however. If homosexuality is labeled as both "deviant" and a "choice," then all those who don't choose homosexuality have, by definition, chosen rightly. And who doesn't want to be right, right?
This whole process simply becomes another way of creating a "them" for "us" to be against. Who wouldn't want to be "with us," rather than "with 'them'"? Once a group has created a "them," it then becomes even easier to:
- Exclude "them" from the company of "decent folk"
- Punish "them" by withholding basic rights from "them"
- Raise money for any kind of organization which is working to beat back the awful tide of "them"
- Reduce anyone who supports "them" to simply be "consorting with the enemy."
However, just days ago, a US soldier made the foolish mistake of (a) posting a question to the GOP candidate debate about whether the candidates would reverse the DADT repeal via a YouTube clip, and (b) in the clip, admitting to being a gay man who has hid his sexuality for years in the military.
To no one's surprise, all of the Republican candidates would roll DADT back onto the books the minute they took office.
But the hideously embarassing thing was this: when they realized this fellow was gay, the GOP audience members booed an active-duty US soldier, serving overseas in Iraq. (You can read the article, and listen to the video, over here.)
Just for the record: I don't care how holy and mighty you think your God is. I don't care how big the American flag is that you have painted on your house or your bumper or wherever. I don't care if you own a gun or a business or pay taxes or not. But if you are ever in MY presence, and boo or jeer at one of the men and women who voluntarily serve the US Armed Forces, laying down their lives and their sacred honor for this country, no matter WHO they sleep with... well, you have cut down more hay than you can put up in a month of Sundays.The phrase "open up a can 'o' whoop-ass" comes to mind.
Also, for the record: I never chose being gay. Never, ever - not even once. In fact, I fought it with every ounce of my being. I gave my life to God, to the church, to service of my fellow human beings, prayed, fasted, begged to be "straightened out." After four decades of that, I could only conclude that (a) I was created this way, (b) I was not a Divine "manufacturing defect," and (c) that my job was to be the best human being I could be - exactly as I was made. My partner and I are about as middle-class as anyone could be - church-going, God-loving, respectable residents and citizens.
All we want (really - all we want) is to be treated the same way the rest of you residents and citizens are.
Lastly, and again for the record: I'm grateful for folks like Ken and his lovely wife Joy, who give us hope that we might one day actually get that wish.