“I Weep for the Species”: kindness, compassion, and the separation of church and state

I hope, for originality’s sake if nothing else, that this will be last time I address homosexuality for a while. Not because it is an unworthy topic, but because its level of controversy is but a symptom of a much larger problem. One that I will only briefly begin to touch on below.

It is interesting to me how marriage camps define themselves as hetero- or homo- sexual, but you don’t see any campaigns teaching our young people how to be in a loving, honest, committed relationship of any kind, or how to find themselves or the right person before entering into a commitment. We need to teach family and relationship values, timeless elements that have absolutely nothing to do with gender or sexuality. We need to teach parenting, not what a father or a mother does. Those ideas have changed since humans moved from caves to farms to cities. But kids…? Kids still need the essentials. We should teach those.

My parents were not hung up on gender roles. Don’t get me wrong. Da was and remains a very Southern man. He is the breadwinner, the backyard farmer, and has a shop where he can make everything from welding projects to carpentry projects to his own bullets. Mostly, though, he uses it as his space, for tossing a few back, grilling out, and generally hanging out with Sundance and listening to classic rock. Still, when it came to raising a daughter, he totally stepped out of tradition. We talked about boys, relationships, my period, and bras.

Mum has always been a whole nother story. She’s a tomboy, raised with/by three brothers, she was tough as nails when I was growing up, always outside, always rough housing, and always fixing something. When our washer broke, she and I took it apart and fixed it. Same with the go-cart, the lawnmower, the vcr…I could go on. Da was not threatened by this any more than he was her propensity to not wear a bra, or make up, or fix her hair up pretty. Mum did not think him less of a man because he and his daughter talked clothes and boots and he couldn’t gut a home appliance and put it back together and have it working.

It is because of my parents that I first began separating Church and State. I didn’t realize it at the time, of course, I was twelve, and much more concerned with the fact that Da’s horse Confederate was sick. Having some bad blood between her and the local vet, Mum called one from the next county over, a lady with whom she’d gone to school. It was late. The lady asked if she could bring her significant other and their kids. Mum said, of course, and when she hung the phone she proceeded to prep us for meeting our first gay family. It went something like this:

“Dr. Vet is gay and I don’t want anyone acting like jack asses to her or her family.”

Confusion from me and my brother. Brooding from Da.

“Uh…I don’t care that she’s gay. She is coming to help Confederate, right?” Me

As always I looked to Da for confirmation. He nodded.

My brother only wanted to know how many kids she had and if they could play in the pasture.

Sundance and I ended up with babysitting duty.

I don’t remember thinking much about them or their “sin.” The two ladies were perfectly nice and had raised polite, kind, and intelligent children (a rarer and rarer thing these days). Mum and Mrs. Dr. Vet talked about animals and kids while Dr. Vet and Da took care of Confederate. Dr. Vet was good people, and her family was more than welcome on our property. We did not treat them politely and with respect in spite of their lifestyle. We treated them as they treated us and with gratitude for caring for one of ours. I guess my folks figured if they weren’t judging us for our skeletons, we wouldn’t be judging them. It wasn’t as if they were trying to convert anyone. And neither were we.

If you don’t want your kids growing up around homosexuality, pay more attention to them, control their environment. And their environment does not include the entire country. Most faiths renounce a large part of the world and popular culture. Christians are expressly told that they are “not of this world.” (a favorite passage of mine, to be sure)

This is no different. If I were a Christian parent, I wouldn’t let my kids go to see certain movies, listen to certain music, read certain books, or hang out with people who I thought might harm them (We aren’t discussing the fact that I wouldn’t actually do most of this, but if I can ban my imaginary daughter from reading Stephanie Meyer, then I can understand Christian parents choosing their own list of things to restrict). In America, parents have that right.

What parents (of any group) do NOT have the right to do is legally dictate the rights and privileges of other groups. Especially when those groups are simply demanding the same rights that the parents themselves expect. Should we protect our children? Absolutely, but that starts at home, with your family, your community, and the values that you instill in your children. They are not to be raised by the government, the schools, or the county rec league. We should be teaching them to be respectful and compassionate. Notice that there’s not direct object in that sentence? That’s right. Not “to <insert group here>”, children should be taught a basic level of common decency if we are ever to stop squabbling amongst ourselves over petty differences.

As religious cultures become increasingly divisive, the human race loses precious evolutionary ground. Even worse, spirituality takes the flack. Faith becomes the “problem”. Sacredness is the disease.

And the world is going to suck if nothing is sacred. Ever. I would rather everything be sacred. Now, we can get into a discussion about that if you’d like, and likely I will in another post, but I imagine that’s a doozy. The very nature of the sacred and the Sacred…subjectivity versus objectivity…I can feel small brains collapsing like ancient stars even now, so I’ll wrap this up and make it simple:

The misuse of religion (such as in the opposition of basic civil rights) equates religion with the lowest forms of humanity. It drags us into our past, where religion has been the tool of racists, bigots, extremists, and hatemongers. It keeps humans in the darkness of all their past crimes. It also takes a very small (if misguided) leap for those fed up with the whole thing to toss Faith out right along with religion…the unfortunate baby with the bathwater. Our world, however, has become increasingly faithless, secular if you want to sort of correctly use a word that I only kind of like. And. This. Is. Bad. If humanity has any hope of being anything more than what it is, then it is imperative that human beings spend some of their lives (often, if you ask me) contemplating something (ANYTHING!) greater than themselves. Because if we are the pinnacle of existence, then “I weep for the species.”

Advertisements

Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s