150 Years And Still Enslaving

I’m sitting here at my desk, half-watching 12 Years A Slave in the background, finding myself having a physical reaction to the sheer horror in this movie. I can’t even look directly at the screen during the worst scenes.JOHN77_edited-1

I know this is the intent of the movie, and they have done a spectacular job.

What I can’t wrap my head around is that while we share a collective horror about past mistreatment of slaves, even the current racism today, we continue to judge others with the same vicious tenacity that we cringe from during the movie.

The sickness in my stomach that I feel now is the same sickness I feel when I hear people trash homosexuals, taunt the mentally ill, and call poor people a product of their own choices. We have not changed all that much in 150 years, we’ve just changed the targets – and the tactics.

What happens when we deny federal rights to people that love the same sex? We enslave them to a lifetime of second-class citizens. They can be refused visitation of a dying loved one, denied social security benefits of a partner they spent decades making a home with, and openly discriminated against in adoptions, service, and much more. It makes me ill.

What happens when we deny services to the mentally ill, and the families trying to help them, simply because they don’t have the right medical insurance card in their pocket or the funds to pay for services out-of-pocket? We enslave them to a life of illness. We watch families get torn apart, homeless veterans walk the streets, and substance abuse eat away at the ones that try to self medicate. It makes me ill.

What happens when we blame the poor for their financial situation, reducing the funding to programs intended to help them improve? We watch generations of children grow up to believe the only way to make money is through illegal operations, imprisoning them when they are caught, and enslaving the next generation to a life without a parent and starting the cycle over again. It makes me ill.

Life is complicated, but one thing that is very simple is that we are all a product of it.

I was born with a silver spoon. Two parents, enough food, good education, white, and straight. But being born privileged does not make me better; in fact it may make me worse. It separates me from the very human condition of being born none of these things. I take my status for granted – often.

As I listen to the whippings, cursing, and crying on the screen behind me, I’m not just experiencing the horror of the past, I am also realizing the horrors of the present. I still live in a world of discrimination and prejudice. I still live in a time of second-class citizens. And it makes me ill.

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Rage against free speech?

The following image circulated the world of Facebook today:

It was pointed out by someone that this picture is offensive, that is mocks free speech, opinion, and the right to demonstrate.

I wonder would it have been less offensive to use this picture instead?

I am absolutely, 100% behind equality (My Married Life), and I am also 100% behind free speech (Sometimes You Need to Have Diarrhea).

What does the image say to you?

My Married Life

My married life is not all roses and butterflies. Sure it has its moments, but it also has its “moments”. Let’s just say that I am glad there isn’t video proof.

Some nights are lovely, things move smoothly. Kids are attended to, bathed, put to bed lovingly. Dinner is eaten, TV is watched. Compromise and teamwork are in abundance and the day ends in blissful sleep knowing that I chose well in my husband.

Some nights are disasters, fights simmer below the surface. Backhanded comments are lobbed over the heads of our little charges, frustration fills the silence in between. Sleep comes after tortured thoughts of all the little things that went wrong.

Each day brings a new challenge, a new adventure. Some days are triumphant, others deflating. But at the end of every day, I am married.

My husband was there to hold my hand in the hospital when I woke up, and will do it again if ever I needed. His work will allow him the time off to care for me, protecting his job and my peace of mind.

When I fill out paperwork for my child’s school, I will check that box that says “Married.” My children will be recognized as having an “unbroken” home because of it.

I will be there for my husband in his sickness and old age and will grieve his passing as his adoring wife. His social security benefits and pension will provide for me for the rest of my life while I struggle to live without him.

Marriage is work. It’s a commitment to work every day for the rest of your life to make the relationship stronger and better than the day before. To work through trials, enjoy the triumphs, and share in memories.

Marriage is family. A family that starts as two, but can grow to any number as the universe see fit. A family that is recognized by neighbors, teachers, employers, and the government.

Marriage is sacred. A sacred bond between two people that find themselves signing up for this journey.

Marriage is important. It’s important for our communities, our children, and ourselves. It’s important in the way we view ourselves in the framework of our society.

Most importantly, marriage is for anyone that wants to make this commitment to another human being. It shouldn’t matter if the person you choose is your same sex, just as it doesn’t matter if they are your same race.

I have a “traditional” marriage. I am a woman married to a man. My marriage will not change if my gay neighbors get married tomorrow. My marriage will still have its moments, and its “moments”. Their marriage would too. My marriage will still offer me the peace of mind that when all of life’s crazy happens, I will have built a life that is protected by laws. Their marriage would give them the same.

Marriage does not happen in a church, it happens in a court. Today a court in North Carolina has changed the state’s constitution to ban marriages between same-sex couples. It seems cruel to take away the right of any human being to be happy, recognized and protected by their government. I wonder how this is even possible? I wonder how our society has become so cruel?

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