Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gay Marriage Supporter's Icy Calculation

Recently, I did an editorial on Maine voters rejecting gay marriage in a state referendum on the question. I expected impassioned replies on both sides of the equation. I was not disappointed. One reply, however raised a multitude of questions that went far beyond the question of gay rights. "Altruist" of the web site wrote as follows.

"59% of the young folk are OK with gay marriage so it is inevitable as the conservatives get older and die off, that eventually all men and women will be considered equal."

Chris D. chimed in with barely concealed glee as follows.

"As the baby boomers die off we're going to see real societal changes. Marriage rights for all, cannabis legalization, and much more. "

It was troubling to see the discussion digress from the merits and drawbacks of gay rights to a cool demographic calculation of waiting for opponents of 'the brave new world" to die off and leave their barricades to "progress" unmanned.

The underlying assumption of both Chris D. and altruist is that people belong to ethnic and demographic blocs which act immutably in their own perceived interests. they also seem to assume that the aging and elderly have no further potential for change, other than to assume room temperature and that the trend of youth is inexorably towards what they see as progress. In reality, each human being is a heart to be won over or lost. Then there is ambivalence. The ebb and flow of political fortunes is what drives elections, why 1980 was the "Reagan Revolution" and 2009 brought us Obama. It could well be argued that amnesia is a powerful underlying political force.

When I see an old person, I see a library. When a human being dies, I see a library burning. My soul aches as much for knowledge lost as for the departure of a soul. So many times I think of questions for my grandparents after they have passed away. Knowing a person's age and the path through which their life has taken them helps me ask the questions that have enriched my life.

I remember proudly sharing with my grandparents the radical ideas I was picking up and seeing the pained expressions on their faces. Had I been older i would have asked them what troubled them. Being young and "full of knowledge" I was not ready to listen to what they had to say.

I have spoken with people who lived through World War Two as POW's, as civilians under German and then US military occupation. I have spoken with police officers who have guarded and arrested famous people. I spoke to a man who was with the Russians who invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968 and with a man who threw rocks at Russian tanks. It saddens me to think that some of those who added their brush strokes to my picture of the world are no longer living.

In most debates, each side accentuates a different facet of truth and makes it dominant in their world view. The opponents of gay marriage die off and are not replaced by the next generation, the concerns and issues they champion will not die with them. In my generation, no fault divorce was the big change that was sold to the people and to legislators. Psychiatrists provided the best assurances money could buy that children would have no trouble adjusting to divorce. Those who voiced caution died out and the forces of change carried the day. Now it turns out that the scars of divorce are not as trivial as had been supposed. The death of no fault divorce opponents removed the opposition but not the consequences.

Waiting for the death of one's opponents exposes an ideological and moral bankruptcy. It shows a fear not of their prejudice but of their knowledge. One of the best things that can happen in a debate is when people stop negating and discounting facts brought up by their opponents and instead incorporate them into their own world view. It is through this process that opponents shift ever so slowly to a working consensus.

If I am forming an opinion about an issue such as say Cuba or Afghanistan, I will jump at the chance to speak with someone who is from there or has been there. One of the people who commented on my article was a gentleman named Scotmaster, who had a close family member who died of AIDS and was involved in homosexuality. it would seem that those who are interested in a well rounded perspective on gay marriage should at least hear him out. You might want to distill his facts from his opinions. you might even have a persuasive spin on his factual presentation. But what do you gain by refusing to hear him? If you are waiting for him and for me to die off, it will not extinguish our portion of the truth.

There is a stridency to the proponents of alternative lifestyles. You could even say that there is almost a sort of missionary zeal to their approach. When they are in charge of a school or social service institution, their coerciveness and condescension are painfully evident.

It is a telling indication of the moral bankruptcy of "alternative lifestyle" proponents that having despaired of winning over the hearts of their opponents that they wait for those same hearts to stop beating. How sad. But that is what happens when you care more about an agenda than about people. Chris D and Altruist have given me one more reason to stay alive. If for no other reason, I will do so out of spite.


The following song from Cabaret, starring Liza Minelli is dedicated to those who are waiting for me and for Scotmaster to assume room temperature. The best way to punish a fool is to answer his prayers. History is littered with the corpses of those killed by their own revolution.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

New here, so this may be out of order.
In assuming that social change will come when the fuddy-duddies die off, one must assume that the individuals of the younger generations will not move along the authoritarian/libertarian spectrum as they age and become parents.
Remember it's the "summer of love" people who are in charge now and keeping us down...