Let’s face it – the world is at a crossroads and it is one with significant bearing on where we go as a species. After a century or more of fighting for civil and human rights around the world, we have become a people more bent on finding what divides us than on what unites us. Unfortunately what unites us is far greater, but that remains useless if politics, fear, ignorance, and prejudice continue to make the divisive features more at the forefront of what we do.
This is not a political piece, but unfortunately the politics being played with human and civil rights makes it an unavoidable catalyst whereas it should be something governed by our human wisdom, not governing it as it has for a long time. I’ve said it before, I don’t care who you vote for, but I have asked everyone to understand who and what you are voting for, and why, and I remain convinced that isn’t what motivates voters nor those whom they have voted in. Otherwise everyone would make choices based more on practicality rather than philosophy that may or may not apply in a given situation. No philosophy fits in every situation, yet our so-called leaders seem bent on proving that their own does.
The signs are all around. Whether it is a healthcare debate that seems bent only on doing harm in order to undo the law of the land, or another way to separate transgender people from the rest of the world in a move clearly designed to push one side on a supposed defensive with their voters. Maybe it is a move to deny anyone equal protection under the law (something granted by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, I might add, but most of us know that women, minorities, and the LGBTQ community have been fighting to have this recognized in a practical manner for over a century). Or maybe it’s just the way you treat a woman in the everyday workplace. There is no shortage of examples in our current climate to suggest we’ve gone off the rails when it comes to human and civil rights, or in my mind, simple common decency.
We’re constantly asking people to conform, to stop being who they are. To accept their place as not as important in a society that wants them to behave differently. My answer is very different: the world can change its own heart and recognize that someone else living in it has little to no effect on who you are or how you live your life. It isn’t costing you money, it isn’t affecting how you raise your family or practice your faith or anything else. I would ask that you stop using our government, my government which is based on keeping religion and absolutism out of it, to advance your causes. I have things I really need these people to get done. You’re voting for ideas, which is fine – our country was founded on ideas. But I need work done, and those ideas never, ever result in someone getting less on the basis of their own human dignity.
Human and civil rights are two of those things. I don’t care if you are black, white, brown, or yellow. Or anything else for that matter. You are entitled to human and civil rights. I don’t care if you are straight or gay, male or female (and for the record I think women are undervalued in our society), left or right, religious or an atheist, you are entitled to human and civil rights – which are independent of any of the factors I have mentioned herein. We get so wrapped up with trying to emphasize differences that we forget that 99% of the world doesn’t care what you stand for – they just want to live their own lives, their way. We spend way too much time trying to make sure what we stand for matters to the rest of the world, and unless it promotes self-expression I am no longer sure that is fair. That’s all anyone asks for, to live their life the way they want to without interfering with anyone else.
This isn’t how a world of 7+ billion people is supposed to work. Nor a country of 323.1 billion people that seems to want to lead the descent into madness. Maybe if we spent less time trying to figure out how people are different, we could look for those things that make us the same and fight for those. As JFK once said:
Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.
Maybe it’s up to common folk like ourselves to revisit that idea. Maybe it’s time for the world to change its heart rather than asking everyone else to conform to its supposed ideal.