In the wake of the Chik-fil-antigay explosion, I felt that this month I would publish an article that was a commentary on humanity in general instead of on the entertainment industry.
We Need to Chat
August 2012 Edition
By Eric Allen
Humanity in general, we need to chat.
I have heard it said that we live in an age where bigotry and intolerance are at an all time low. And then I turn on the TV and find out how untrue that statement is. So long as people exist, and so long as we are all different from one another, there will be intolerance. True, the world makes a show of being a more understanding place in these days than in previous ones, but that's pretty much all it is, a show. Beneath the surface, all of the hatred, the racism, the intolerance, etc, it still exists, and is likely as strong as it ever has been. No, I believe that this day and age has not become more understanding of differences in our fellow man, but more hypocritical and two faced in how we deal with the differences in our fellow man. There will be racist, intolerant bigots until the world ends and humanity disappears from the universe.
I write this article not to point fingers at any one group of people, nor do I write it to say who is wrong and who is right. Frankly, there is no right side or wrong side of this argument, just a lot of intolerant people pointing fingers at one another. I write this article in hopes of spreading greater understanding amongst all those who have a stake in this one, particular argument. In a perfect world, everyone would accept everyone for who and what they are. This world is far from perfect, and it's really not getting any closer to it in the foreseeable future. We've all got to make due with what we've got. And so, this is me, making due.
I was born to and raised in a strongly Christian home, and raised to hold Christian values dear. I still do to this day. I spent a year of my life, at my own expense, doing missionary work for my church in South Chicago. I tell you this to give perspective on my background, and why I believe the things that I do. Do I think that Homosexuality is wrong? A sin? An abomination? Perhaps. But you know what? Who am I to judge? Who am I to tell someone else that the way they lead their life is wrong? If it does turn out to be wrong, it isn't my place to condemn or punish them. That right belongs to God and God alone.
Allow me to tell you some of the most basic, and thereby, most important tenants of Christianity. I do not mean to preach to you, only to display the hypocrisy of those who claim to be Christian, yet act nothing like Christians. Christ taught that one of the most important commandments was to love your neighbor like yourself. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. If someone strikes you, turn the other cheek. Let he who is without blame cast the first stone. Judge not lest ye be judged. To put it all in modern day speech: Treat people how you want to be treated, and show love, compassion, and forgiveness for everyone. When looking for flaws to fix, look in yourself first, because until you're completely perfect, you really don't have the right to harass anyone else about their imperfections. And since no one is perfect, that applies to EVERYONE. Does telling people they don't have the right to marry the person that they love because it's against God sound like following those good, Christian values to you? Does continually hating, oppressing, and attacking those of the homosexual community for being what they are sound very Christlike? Does stripping another human being of basic human rights simply because they love someone that you do not think they should sound like coming even close to following the teachings of Christianity? No, it does not. Hence the use of the word hypocrisy.
Now, it is my own personal belief that this life of ours is a test. That we were born, live and die on this Earth to prove ourselves to God. We were given rules to follow in the form of scripture, and sent teachers to elaborate on the meaning of these rules. We were all given free will, the ability to choose for ourselves what path we will follow through life. I am opposed to the notion of illegalizing gay marriage for this very reason. Why? Because to do so would be to remove a person's ability to choose whether he or she will do it or not. It is stripping someone of a choice that they should not be stripped of, and thus negating what life is all about. If it turns out that Christianity is right in the end, these people will be punished according to their sins. If it turns out it's all just a happy fantasy, which it very well could be, then they will not. I'm a firm believer in people getting what's coming to them in the end, whether it be good or bad. Either way, it is no business of mine whether someone else is to be punished or rewarded, is it? Yes, I know this likely sounds like the rantings of a crazy person to someone that is not religious, but again, tolerance of the beliefs of others is what this article is all about.
I want to make perfectly clear that I, in no way, harbor any ill feelings against those of the homosexual community. I've worked with gay people ever since I was old enough to work. And you know what I have to say about them? They're people. Just normal people, like everyone else, doing their best to live their lives in a world that is not very accepting of them. People who have the right to live their lives and make the choices that they want to make. Their preference for sexual partners may seem a little icky to me, but so what? Mine seem a little icky to them. We're all people. We're all made up of the same flesh and blood. Gay people don't bleed acid and eat babies at the full moon. They're just people, like everyone else.
And this is where the real misunderstanding part comes in. To Christians, and other religions as well, a marriage is a sacred religious rite that takes place between a man and a woman. To many religious people, calling a union between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman marriage is actually blasphemous to them. It's not that men are shacking up with men, and women are shacking up with women that they have a problem with. It's the fact that you're calling it the same thing as one of their most sacred religious rites. Oh, sure, there's probably quite a bit of bigotry involved for most people as well, don't get me wrong, bigotry DOES exist. You just have to understand that for those with strong Christian beliefs, marriage is not just a civil union of two people. It's actually a part of their religion, and by trying to label something that they see as sinful as the same thing, they become offended by it. Does this make them bad people? Does it make them intolerant? Does it make them idiots for being religious in this day and age? No, it does not. It makes them people who are offended by what they see as someone making a mockery of their beliefs. The same way homosexuals are offended by someone making a mockery of their lifestyle.
So, Christians and other religious people, you all need to take a look at the basic teachings of your own religion and ask yourself whether your behavior toward the homosexual community is in keeping with the religion that you claim to follow. You need to realize that you are no more perfect than anyone else, and you really don't have the right to condemn anyone for the way that they lead their lives. Gay people are a reality. They are not going to go away if you ignore and oppress them to the best of your abilities. By condemning them and shunning them the way that you do, you are also condemning yourself by your own beliefs. When you've completely perfected yourself, then, MAYBE, you might have the right to point out the things that you believe to be flaws in other people if, indeed, they are flaws, but you know what, that's never going to happen in your lifetime. When homosexual people want to get married they are not doing it as a mockery of your own marriage. They are not doing it to tear down everything that you value. They're doing it because they love each other and they want the same legal benefits that you take for granted from your own marriage. Is that so wrong? Even gay people are your brothers and sisters in this life. It's time to start treating them like it.
Everyone else, you guys really need to realize that people who hold and believe in Christian values are not just out to get you. They're not idiots or delusional for choosing to believe in something greater than this life. People have been doing it since the beginning of time. Just because they hold to the belief that what you may be doing is a sin, doesn't make them your enemy. Though it may not seem like it, they have your eternal well being in mind when they tell you that what you are doing is wrong. They are being offended because they think you're mocking one of their most sacred and dear religious practices. They find this to be blasphemous and offensive to their beliefs. Yes, it is a little bigoted, but are you even trying to understand WHY they feel the way that they do? Have you ever asked someone WHY they find the concept of gay marriage to be offensive? You might learn something if you do. And no, this is hardly all on you, religious people bear an equal share of the blame in this, and are just as intolerant of the beliefs of others if not more so, so please don't feel as though I'm picking on you. People with Christian beliefs do exist, and they are allowed to believe in their religion even though you may think that it is wrong to do so. They are not going to go away just because you return insult with insult, or instigate any sort of argument on your own.
Look, humanity in general, this has got to stop. The intolerance is not all coming from Christians. There's a lot coming from the other side as well. The bigotry is not just coming from one side or the other. Everyone has their own fair share of it. I will admit that the ratio of hate crimes against Christians for being Christians is much lower than those against gay people in this neck of the world, and I am abhorred by it. There was a man that was almost killed two blocks from my home because someone merely suspected he was gay. That is not how you treat other people, regardless of how you feel about the way that they lead their lives! We've all been lacking understanding and tolerance here. Like I said. This argument has no right or wrong side. Everyone has valid points. What we need is for everyone to simply realize that the other side exists and are not going to change their ways. Everyone has the right to exist. Everyone has the right to live their lives. Everyone has the right to choose their own path in their life. Everyone needs to just be more understanding of everyone else, and maybe meet somewhere in the middle instead of bickering, hating, attacking, and generally acting like incivil children. We're all human beings. Maybe it's time we started acting like it. It's not about who is right and who is wrong. Both sides of this argument will never completely see eye to eye. It's about treating each other with respect, decency, and understanding. To quote a cliche line: Can't we all just get along?
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
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