Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness: Transformation of Thought

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama

Change is a fickled thing. Change is not easy. Change is rarely fast. Change consists of primarily two elements: time and pain. The more there is of one element the less there will be of the other. The rivers were formed in a gracious and peaceful process spanning over millenia. Pompeii was changed over night in a mighty explosion and a storm of heat and fire. Change that is immediate is typically drastic and catastrophic. (I know somebody much smarter and wiser than me had to have said that but I have never read it; so until somebody tells me Aristotle said it I am going to claim it! See Mandy? I do have OCCASIONAL flashes of brilliance! lol)

Change must begin at ground zero, specifically at an individual level. I cannot expect those around me to change unless I am willing to change as well. Furthermore, change can only be accomplished by example. Somebody must have the courage to be the first to change.

When considering this controversy of the rights of the gay and lesbian community, there is no doubt that change must take place. The courage of those that are willing to change is evident if we take the time to look at them. Take for example the wife and daughter of Sen. John McCain. In typical martial fashion the good Senator has stuck by his guns, his party (and his pocket) and continues to deny the constitutional rights of an entire portion of the American people. Meanwhile his very wife and daughter have broken away from the party line and from the stance of the esteemed and venerable Senator. Another example is the case forming under the leadership of two lawyers that were once rivals in the Gore vs. Bush case that gave George W. Bush the presidency and Americans eight years of despotism and ignorance for leadership. These two lawyers, Theodore B Olson and David Boies, have decided to join together, conservative and liberal, republican and democrat, to defend a constitutional right.

So it is evident change is taking place, though not as fast as some would wish and faster than others would care for, but change is coming. The question is are we changing individuals in the process? I can only speak for myself. I can track the change that has taken place in me and would like to talk about that change.

Change of Perspective

The first step in change, at least for me, was a change in perspective. This may sound odd, but of all the things I had to deal with, the least difficult was the gay and lesbian issue. Now I do not say that to be cold, callous or unthoughtful. It simply was a side issue to the things I was dealing with at the time. If you read my series of blogs entitled My Journey... then you would have followed through my struggle with faith and religion. And that is where the perspective change came from, for me at least.

Once I had struggled through my beliefs on God, church and the Bible a wide variety of subjects came open for discussion and re evaluation. Once I had a different point of view to analyze and look at these topics many changed. On the subject of gays and lesbians, once I had removed the bigotry of the Bible from the equation I came to the realization that there is a long history of this behavior down through the history of the world, and it was widely accepted as normal behavior by most cultures, even warlike cultures such as the Romans. The general exception were nations considered barbaric and uneducated. Educated nations and cultures that were advanced (for their day and time) generally accepted it.

Change of Mind

This may seem obvious after discussing perspective but I am actually referring to something a little different. In discussing perspective I am more referring to what guided my decision making (in this case a change from accepting the Bible as the moral law in the matter.) When I refer to a change of mind I am more thinking of what I think about the subject and even more so about myself. Allow me to explain.

I used to say that I accept the gay and lesbian community, and that I believe they have rights even though I do not personally approve of their “lifestyle”. About two weeks ago I had an epiphany. Who gives a flying fuck what I approve or disapprove of? Who the hell do I think I am? And since when did my personal approval of anybody or anything other than the very small and insignificant things in my own little world matter. Clearly in the big picture of things it really matters what I approve and disapprove of because I am really THAT important.

The point is I had to realize that too often our ego comes into the rhetoric. If you are a Christian, and you truly believe what your Bible says then consider this. James chapter 1 refers to the Bible as a mirror. This is important because, if you follow the concepts of the Bible, it was never intended as a window through which you look at the faults of others, but rather as a mirror in which you see your own flaws and work on those flaws. Now I am not agreeing with you in any shape or form that homosexuality is a flaw, so I want to make that clear. However, as “Bible believer” you more than likely do see as such. Here is my question. What do you care? It is not your “flaw” to deal with. All you have done is found somebody else's “flaw” to concentrate on instead of looking at your own bigotry and hypocrisy.

My thought process had to change, in my own mind. I had to look at myself and realize these people do not require or need my approval. It is their life to deal with. It is my place to give them the same respect I demand and feel I deserve.

Change of Vocabulary

This has been a VERY hard one for me and is one I am still working my way through. I have never been a rude person but then I have never been exactly what you would call politically correct. Now, before I continue. If you are gay or somebody close to you is, do not take offense to anything I am about to write. (I know Mandy, another I have always avoided the derogatory terms just because I believe I have more class and intelligence than to insult myself and sully myself with derogatory and stereotypical insults (fagot, queer, etc.) It is the more subtle terms I had to change.

For example...sexual preference, lifestyle choice and similar words that makes homosexuality a choice rather than who they are. This is key in this argument or controversy. If it is a choice than you can argue the right or wrong of the choice. It becomes a moral argument at that point which is where these anti-gay people want to have this argument. Morality is their realm and they know how to manipulate and control people once you can push it into the morality realm. If it is not a choice, but is rather who they are, then morality is not an issue and they have no argument to stand on.

There are other words, such as lifestyle and community. I know that some find these terms as derogatory. Lifestyle is the one I am working on not using at the time. It is not a lifestyle as Will put it so well on his blog. It is who they are. I am still ok with the word community and here is why. I am hispanic and have no problem referring to the “Hispanic Community” the “African-American Community” these are defining qualities for a minority of the population. And I do not see them as an insult or as derogatory, I see them rather as badges of honor, defining qualities that identify us as who we are.

Change of Attitude

In the end my overall attitude has changed. Oddly enough, my attitude changed first about myself and as a result it changed towards those around me. When I was no longer thinking of myself as better than anybody else, my attitude changed on a great number of things. There are still areas that I find myself wincing, besides my best intentions. As we will discuss in my next post, I still have a ways to go...what can I say....I am a work in progress.


kitterztoo said...

The more I read your blog, the more I am touched that you are growing as a person. No longer closed minded, but rather open-minded to the possibility of more. Knowing there are topics you disagree with, but yet finding you are following a less judgemental path, it touches me. I have struggled with the same issue. Judging is never an easy habit to break along with the question you plainly ask: what does it matter what I think?

I value your blog so much as you can approach your beliefs and growth logically, while I view mine intuitive and feelings based. I enjoy seeing this, and at the same time are in awe. I look forward to more!

Mandy said...

What a journey you have been on, eh? There aren't too many people that can say they have experienced such drastic changes on views. It goes back to teaching your children to think for themselves. Yes, of course, teach them your beliefs, but along with that teach them it's not only ok, but expected that they think for themselves, or grow their own brain, as the case may be.

Will Shealy said...

Very well-written! I agree with almost everything you said today! :-) I refuse to believe, however, that in two passages one can refer to the Bible as bigoted toward homosexuality. We're not even certain on the interpretation of the passages in question (or many others). The Bible tells you what you interpret, the aspects you choose to accept, as you well know. My issue with the referral of a "community" has less to do with a description of a people, and more to do with the persistent perception of some homogeneous nature (no pun intended) that seems to be applied to homosexuals in much the same vein as when the "agenda" is mentioned. It may mean one thing, but I would be shocked if the terminology weren't coined to pain a specific picture. If not coined, then at the very least perpetuated. But then, this is where I should probably let go of semantics. Like you said, we must change ourselves first.

Opinionated Gifts said...

I think it's impossible to change an attitude about others without first changing an attitude about yourself.

The change has to come by shifting your perspective...and the only way to shift perspective is to move.

Your movement is really beautiful, man.


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