I'm not all that familiar with Olbermann's work. Indeed, think I only learned of his existence within the past two years through links sent to me by friends (I rarely watch television). I don't have much context for him other than awareness that he's a controversial liberal commentator, but this and the signs I've seen saying, "When do I get to vote on your marriage?" send a very clear "live and let live" message.
What depresses me is that the folks who most need to hear these words are unlikely to see this video. The irony that they likely say the same thing about this side of the debate when their preacher delivers a particularly passionate sermon about the evils of homosexuality is not lost on me. The kinder ones that don't openly revile us think they're being compassionate Christians when they consider us poor, pitiable, benighted fools who just can't see the light. They shake their heads in dismay and say that the folks who most need to hear the message aren't in church. Two sides of the same coin.
I realize this about them. I'd like to think that some of them realize this about me. The problem is that there really is no middle ground on this issue, which is why it seems to have become about as divisive as abortion.
I hope that we're not going to do this separate-but-unequal nonsense. Surely we've learned at least that much from history.
If we as a nation truly aspire to separating church and state, then we ought to leave religion out of this entirely. However, if a certain segment of the population were capable of doing so, we wouldn't be having this discussion. I'm afraid there are an awful lot of folks across this country who are stuck on "love the sinner, but hate the sin." It also suggests a certain amount of self-loathing that some of the people who have totally screwed up their lives are the first to point fingers and demand accountability. I have to wonder if there isn't some transference going on -- in some cases, that they want to punish other people for the mistakes that they themselves made, or they want to force the world into some overly-idealized nuclear family configuration that they wish they'd had.
How can we counter unquestioning faith with reason and logic? How can we even converse? Pointing out the parts of the Bible that most people ignore, like Leviticus 11:9-12 on eating shellfish, doesn't seem to do any good. Most of the devout don't seem to care about plausibility. (To drive this point home, I made an icon that says, "If you can pick the parts of the Bible you choose to believe in, then so can I" that I'll be using on LJ to show my support. It is attached to this post.)
How can we talk about this respectfully and civilly? Are we having a dialogue, or merely promoting our perspective to validate our own perceptions? We all love to think we're open-minded, but honestly, on this issue, I'm not. I'm really not. And I don't believe that all opinions are equally researched or informed. And yet, if we don't listen to them, how can we fairly expect them to listen to us? Even if we listen as sincerely as we can, and foster some goodwill, it's an either/or thing. I can't see how to achieve a win/win on this where both sides will be satisfied.
Despite my sincere hope for change, I have to admit that it often feels like we're at an impasse on this issue. I've never passed by anti-gay protesters and thought, "Gee, they're right," because I've had gay friends my whole life, and my mind is pretty well made up. I'm confident that their minds are, too, because they're just as much a product of their life experience as I am - it always seemed normal to me because it's always been there. I'm sure it must seem equally abnormal to those who weren't aware of it, or who were made aware of it in a negative way by church and family.
It's difficult to question that which you've always assumed to be so. I actively did a lot of critical thinking in college about ethics, but I also majored in philosophy. I am grateful for my education, but not everyone has been so fortunate. Most people don't have the time or inclination to actively seek such mental discomfort -- indeed, they're looking for more comfort and stability, not less, and that's a key appeal of religion ... reassurance and constancy.
I've never seen anyone over the age of 30 change their minds about a deeply-held conviction without it becoming suddenly and specifically personal. Regarding homosexuality, I'm thinking of some fundamentalist-leaning acquaintances whose son came out to them a few years back. It was incredibly hard for them -- first, they went through denial and anger, and shunned him ... rejected him completely. He was hospitalized for a suicide attempt shortly after. Only then, when they realized that they had very nearly lost their son, were they able to put their love for him above their beliefs and reunite as a family. I know that sounds fairly dramatic, but it's all true.
A street corner protest on a volatile issue isn't going to single-handedly create change in people's hearts and minds, and, frankly, I think it's unlikely to get folks who are my age thinking because they're already for it or against it. You'll either get a reaction of approval or disgust, and getting in someone's face about it only exacerbates hostility. Protests are for politicians and the media ... to spread visibility, and if they see enough of their constituents getting involved, they'll take some notice. They are also important for showing support and demonstrating to those being marginalized that we do care. In terms of relations with the general public, though, I sometimes have to wonder whether they do more harm than good, and whether or not they are more likely to alienate people from a given cause and increase an attitude of dismissiveness.
For that matter, I have no illusions that my writing here makes an iota of difference. Much as I love feedback and discussion, I decided a long time ago to journal as a means of transcribing and organizing my thoughts. I'm aware that on hot issues, I'm preaching to the choir in some instances, and in others, where friends have disagreed, well, have I ever changed your mind about anything here? Can you cite it? I'd be happy, but very surprised if I have.
And yet, we cannot give up: resistance is essential. A culturally dominant idea or mindset does not often relinquish power willingly. Veteran's Day was yesterday, and I thought back to the founding of our country. The American Continental Army endured suffering few of us can really comprehend on the road to revolution. Make no mistake: there were British sympathizers at that time. The newly-formed country was not united. Not everyone was pleased with the outcome.
The real hope for change rests with influencing young people, but that doesn't do squat for my LGBT friends right now. Legislation from the bench gets overturned by popular votes like Prop 8. Getting openly pro-gay politicians elected is pretty darned tough in most parts of the country.
I don't know how to fix this, but I surely wish that I did. I wish I knew of a better method, of a way to effect change that was both kind and effective. There just seems to be no good way.
Logically, it seems like we should be able to learn from the previous civil rights struggles and not have equal rights for LGBT individuals take so long. I don't want to wait. I don't want to be gradual. Mostly, I want the other side to just fast forward to the inevitable. I want to see my friends legally married now, not ten or twenty years from now.
Realistically, though, I sometimes feel like there's a certain section of the population that needs to die off before we'll see much improvement, however much I may dislike it.