The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

LABELS

As I sat down to write my latest post – on a totally different subject – I changed direction because I learned of the death of the first woman in space, an American by the name of Dr. Sally Ride.  She was an academically accomplished person, a pioneer in our adventure into the great unknown and a lesbian.

Nigger – Chink – Queer – Spic – Wet Back – Wop – Kike – Guinee.  We’ve all heard these terms and more.  They denigrate the speaker even more than those at whom they are directed.  They are, in my view, terms that should never enter the minds and certainly not the mouths of people of quality or substance.

Dr. Ride did something even more remarkable than being the first woman in space.  She was in a loving relationship that lasted for 27 years until her death on July 23rd.  How many heterosexual couples can make that claim in an era when marriage is a matter of formality rather than a matter of commitment?

I realize that those who have a religious orientation, as I do, may ask the question, is being gay moral or a defamation of God’s law?  To me that bears the same amount of weight as the question, is it moral to be a person whose skin is yellow or red?  Attempting to approach this question from a non-religious and totally logical basis I would ask you this question.

Is being gay or lesbian an inherited trait or an acquired behavior?  If it is the former, then it is no different than being short or tall, black or white, thin or heavy.  But if it is the latter, logic suggests that a person would want to acquire this behavior to experience some positive benefit.  And what positive benefit does a person gain by being gay?  I would welcome my readers’ response to that question because I, despite a fertile imagination, cannot think of any.

I remember one night in September in the early 1980’s I had to go down to bail a friend out of jail.  He had been arrested by the police because he was having a few drinks at a gay bar with some friends when the police raided the place.  This happened with predictable regularity under the regime of Mayor Richard J. Daley, a good Irish Catholic Democrat.  Apparently the Mayor felt that this made his stalwart supporters even more devoted to his cause.

The bar had a license for which it paid the City of Chicago an annual fee.  In addition, it paid for inspections from the city’s Health Department to make sure that it met standards of cleanliness.  The bar paid sales tax to the city on the drinks that it sold.  And despite all the revenue that was derived from an on-going business, the owners of this bar lived in constant fear of a raid.

After the episode which involved my friend, I had the opportunity to meet the owner of this bar.  In speaking with him, he informed me that in addition to all the licensing fees, he also paid an additional amount to various of those in authority (under the table) to minimize the number of the raids that occurred in his place of business.  I wasn’t surprised to hear that.

Isn’t it time that we stopped labeling people?  Isn’t it time that those of us who have a God-based faith really applied its tenets to those we encounter in our every day lives and those who don’t, accept others who are different as a matter of simple civility?

Neither I nor those of you reading this post is guiltless.  We have all done things and left others undone which we regret.  But I know that labeling people is not among my deeds or misdeeds.  Despite that, I am not so virtuous as to be the person to cast the first stone.

Are you?

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Comments on: "LABELS" (25)

  1. I read about the payments under the table with interest.Round here the idea is that corruption defines India and America is corruption free and all about merit being recognized.

  2. Yes, concur. While I believe that they will answer to God for their behavior, that’s between God and them. If asked, I will say what i think, If not, I won’t. None of my business.

    Labels are bad. As a conservative I believe that America was designed to serve the smallest of all minorities: the individual, with all the inherent quirks and differences.

    And yes, some of my friends got caught in those raids too. I was on the raise bail list for a couple, I volunteered.

  3. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book blink he talks about bigotry and an individuals recognition of it in themselves. Something like 70 % of those interviewed said they had no bigotry in them at all, but when given psychological tests for it nearly all were found to have some for of it in their personality (totally unrecognized)
    You are delving into areas of human consciousness that great scientific minds have been trying to unravel for hundred (if not thousands) of years –

    • I doubt that my small attempts to consider these matters will overturn the collective wisdom of the scientific community – nor are they likely to greatly increase their insight. But if we do not ask and question, however poor our qualifications may be, then have we not abdicated the Cartesian premise, “I think, therfore I am?”

      • I am not questioning your qualifications, rather remarking that it is good to see that others (like you) consider these things. It means we are evolving – I appreciate everything you write, there is a distinct courage in it ! Keep going !

      • I would not be offended if you had because I ask myself, “How do you have the audacity to attack problems that have stymied philosophers and scientists for centuries?”

        The only answer is that I have no choice.

      • And that is what we need more of in this time …

  4. By casting stones at race, color, sexual orientation, etc. one is casting stones at a God who they proclaim to be infallible while simultaneously attacking “mistakes” of His creation. This is a contradiction found everywhere in religion and this act is and has been the cause of wars and countless untimely deaths and unimaginable horrors in God’s name.

    As to your point that homosexuality may be voluntary, God gave every man free choice and free will. Who among the religious community is willing to stand up and proclaim that this gift from God was a mistake and that all men should be deprived of individual thought, but instead to think and act in step with the collective? And which collective is the proper collective to follow? Is it Christianity in general or is it specifically Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Muslim, Buddhism, etc.

    If it is not a specific form or religion, but a personal relationship to God, then, why bother to go to church? Isn’t your lone voice as strong as the collective voice? Or is your strength and your relationship with God dependent upon the strength of the collective – a sort of might makes right belief?

    The only way the world will ever live in peace is by recognizing the value and worth of the individual and individual rights and respecting the individual rights of others to the point where we all agree that whenever one tramples on the rights of another, the offender is to be punished and those who adhere to expressing their rights without intruding upon the rights of others are to be honored and respected members of society.

    To live respecting and defending individual rights in a principled and disciplined way and allowing others to do the same, regardless of their choices, is the only true way to peace and free enterprise which also respects the rights of others living in a free market system is the only true way to govern.

    To demand sacrifice of others is to demand that one stop living for one’s own happiness in order to serve the happiness of others at one’s expense and against one’s purpose and view of happiness. This is anathema to liberty, to individual rights and stands in contravention to avoiding labels, divisions and hateful slurs. It’s very nature causes one group to trample the individual rights of others and perpetuate the very things most religious people proclaim to disdain.

    Reason, in my view, is always seeking truth, even when that search requires discarding long held “truths” or beliefs. Religion, it would appear, prefers to ignore and sidestep contradictions and explain the dilemma as an act of faith – which, when coupled with the assertion that simply asking for forgiveness for sinning, even a heinous sin like the Aurora massacre, will bring you to heaven and God’s house. Is it any wonder than how gangsters can leave church on Sunday morning and resume killing on a bright, clear, sunny Sunday afternoon?

  5. Although I subscribe to your vision about the smallest minority I had never put it in those terms. Thank you for enlightening me.

  6. “The only way the world will ever live in peace is by recognizing the value and worth of the individual and individual rights and respecting the individual rights of others to the point where we all agree that whenever one tramples on the rights of another, the offender is to be punished and those who adhere to expressing their rights without intruding upon the rights of others are to be honored and respected members of society.”

    I am in complete agreement with this statement. Whether agnostics, atheists or religious people ever come to accept and live it remains to be seen.

    • The fly in this ointment is — Who, exactly is defining the VALUE, the WORTH, and the RIGHTS of the individual? Peoples/nations across the world would have to agree on definitions before this utopian philosophy could emerge — and I don’t put much likelihood in getting to this homogoneity of ideas.

      • I approach your question from a libertarian viewpoint. As far as I am concerned, there is no need to define “Value” or “Worth”. They are implicit in a person’s being. And as long as that person behaves in a manner which does not adversely affect others, I believe they should be free to live their lives as they choose.

      • So if everyone around agrees that aborting a [presumed] healthy fetus is appropriate, the pro-lifers should be fine with this? Just sayin’ . . . . I don’t think “Value” and “Worth” are universally-agreed-upon concepts at all. In fact, I think across the world we would find this to be a very gray area. Am I too pessimistic?

      • Ironic you used that example. I just published a post entitled, “Body Parts” which discusses the issue of abortion. And then I saw your comment.

  7. Since you spent a good many words addressing the homosexuality issue –

    What I believe is that God’s Laws of Nature overwhelmingly suggest that homosexuality is a perversion of nature, if not morally wrong. I am not enough of a Biblical scholar to even try to reach a conclusion from that source. And certainly not a medical or psychiatric doctor who may or may not have a selfish interest in the outcome of “objective” studies re: the “choice” or “inheritance” question.

    Now before anyone jumps all over me, let me say that 1) I am entitled to this belief just as surely as anyone is entitled to believe the opposite, and 2) this does not mean that I hate homosexuals or wish to discriminate against them in any way.

    On the other hand, I am against gay marriage, and wrote two short blog entries on the matter in late May. I believe same-sex marriage is a completely separate issue from acceptance of gays in society. And I will strongly support Chick-fil-A’s leadership for not being afraid to say they do not support gay marriage. [They do also state that they respect people’s choices of life style.]

    But in this argument, we who are against gay marriage are the ones who are labeled, aren’t we? Homophobes, or worse.

    Reminds me of the Will Rogers-like saying, “Liberals are fine with free speech, unless you disagree with them.” [Not sure this can’t be said of us conservatives, also.]

    To your question, “And what positive benefit does a person gain by being gay?” I can see strong emotional benefits, as well as the anxiety brought on by lack of acceptance. It’s like the spurned lover who still seeks a glance from the object of his love, who would do anything for a kiss. How about the risks a girl takes in falling in love with the guy from “the wrong side of the tracks”? The risk is nothing, the anxiety is nothing, when put up against the emotional drive. Emotions often rule all, and sexual emotions often rule all the others. Think of John Edwards (and countless others) – ask him what kind of benefits did he think would accrue to him by having an affair? The answer is that he was enjoying, not thinking – emotions were in control. The emotional benefits outweighed the risks and anxiety.

    • Well, we’re on the same page in that neither of us is a Biblical scholar. I do have some historical training and would like to suggest that the verses which generally are cited to justify the condemnation of homosexuality (and masturbation) make a great deal of sense – but only in context.

      Consider the plight of the ancient Jews. There they are, surrounded on all sides by hostile people who are seeking their extermination. What is their best defense against these onslaughts? The biggest population they could achieve – and obviously homosexuality doesn’t contribute to that goal.

      As to your final paragraph … We estimate that only about ten percent of the world’s population is homosexual. If a person wants love and acceptance he is nine times more likely to find it from those who are straight if he is as well. Again, I don’t see any benefit in being gay – but I do see a lot of disadvantages. I think for most people, it wouldn’t be their first choice in terms of lifestyle.

      As to “gay marriage” – I’m not sure that I’ve fully formed an opinion. Before I do, I’m going to try to figure out what straight marriage is all about currently. Apparently its meaning has changed since the time I was a kid. Based on the number of unwed pregnancies, apparently it is no longer a precursor to starting a family.

      • Sorry — to your third paragraph in the above comment, I was actually speaking of people who already felt attracted to someone of the same sex. I was trying (poorly, I guess) to say that once you have “fallen” for someone, risk takes a back seat, and [emotional] benefit takes the driver’s seat.

      • That’s probably a pretty good description of how all of us emotional humans respond to certain situations.

  8. You’ve raised a very good point.

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