I Never Know Where These Will Lead

It’s a funny thing, not ha ha, that I just keep thinking. Let’s see where this one leads…

There are some people that should not drink, ever. I am one. If I were to have one drink, to give myself permission, it would not end there. It would start with drinking and end with meth and the ruin of my life. Truth be told, I would like to be able to. I like the taste. I just can’t. I know myself far too well.

Having said all that, there are people that can have ONE drink and stop. For them, it’s not an issue. For them, it is a permissible action. For me, it isn’t. Why, then, should I have the right to impose my code of conduct on them? At what point does an impermissible action for me give me cause to dictate other’s lives?

Do you see where this is going?

My life and rules are just that, mine. Conversely, your’s belong to you alone. If something is non-criminal and yet, against your code, then it applies to you. If you have, as a part of your faith, a code then it applies to your faith and those that share it. It is my belief that it can not be applied to Society as a whole, only those that have chosen to include themselves in your group.

You knew, if you read more than one of these, I would get to this point…It is the right of your sect to disapprove of Marriage Equality. It is your right to say it is wrong. I respectfully, and sometimes not so much, disagree. It is not your right to deny basic human rights to those with different views. Funny how that works, when we start imposing our beliefs on those with differing views we open ourselves up having them imposed on us. No one is telling you that your sect has to allow Marriage Equality WITHIN your sect. What they are saying is that you can not impose your strictures outside of it. They are saying that if you run a for-profit business, you do not get a choice in what groups you allow or do not allow service to.

*sigh*

I suppose some people just don’t get it. Protecting the rights of the people we disagree with protects our own.Yeah, I have an agenda. It’s the “do unto others” agenda. It’s the “Human Rights are for Humans” agenda. It’s a “My Friends are not Second Class Citizens” agenda. It’s also a “I Can Not Sit Idly By and Say Nothing” agenda.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m just banging my head into a wall? The same Freedoms that protect the “anti’s” protect me. The same things that allow a group like Westboro to protest give me the right to disagree and say so. When we start banning Freedoms, we make laws that can be used against ourselves. If, for no other reason than self-interest, we should be against those laws that restrict non-criminal conduct. *sigh again*

One more time, being straight or Christian does not give a monopoly on correct conduct. There are other ways. They might not be your correct but, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. I am a straight Christian. My best friend is a straight Pagan. Z is a lesbian Christian. All of those paths are correct…for the individual involved. The world is a better place for having my best friend in it. She lifts the people around her. The world is a better place for having Z in it. She’ll defend your rights even if you would restrict hers. MY world is vastly improved by those two and my wife. None of the three do things exactly as I would. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I Guess I Did Know…

I’m sitting here thinking I should write a post. I don’t really know what I want to write…

I’d talk about my former addiction. This time of year brings that out. This is the time that reminds me of the “train wreck”. By that, I mean the time leading up to my sobriety day. That was 9 years ago. It was the blackest part of my life. It is a place I try not to visit. It happened. I lived. I’m not that guy anymore.

I’d write another post in support of Marriage Equality. I’ve covered my perspective. I’ve tried to explain how I don’t feel the dichotomy between being Christian and pro LBGT rights. It’s not “they want to be just like REAL people”. It is that my LBGT friends are as Human as any other human and as deserving of the same rights and freedoms. Period. To quote myself “Who you love is less important than the capacity for it”. I wish I could convince some of my coreligionists of that.

I’d write another post in support of religious freedom. I’d write about how my faith doesn’t give me the freedom to dictate or disparage how another person believes. I’d write that I may not be Pagan but, that doesn’t make their faith any less valid to them than their faith invalidates mine. I’d write that I believe that it is entirely possible to be Christian and Gay. That my prayer partner is a Lesbian and that, if she permits, she will be the first person I go to for prayer as long as we are alive. *editorial, we all need a first person that shares our faith* I’d also write that, although I don’t share their faith, I also go to my best-friend-that-is-not-my-wife and she happens to be Pagan. I’d say that for me to have my freedom, I CAN NOT infringe on your’s.

I’d write words of kindness and love. I’d say that the greatest gift I’ve been given, in this life, was when my fiancee said, “I do” and became my wife. How those two simple words have made me a better person. How I try my best to be a good husband. How much love I have for that Lady.

I’d talk about how I struggle with frustration and bite back anger. *I’m getting MUCH better*

I’d go back a couple of topics and discuss how Christians should be for societal change, even if they retain the right to disagree with it. How we, as Christians, need to remember our collective past. That we were once the outcasts and minority. That we need to embrace and not repress. That if we say it is our right to use our religious views to dictate conduct then we should also allow other faiths to do the same. *editorial, as a Christian, do you really want Sharia Law imposed? When you use your faith to dictate, then you open the door to ALL faiths doing the same* I’d point out that when I am asked “do you believe all of the Bible?” as a way to point out that I should be anti-whatever, then I should also be pro-slavery and for keeping women as property.

I’d talk about how I dislike the word “allow” within the context of this blog. I’d also add the word “tolerate”.It is not my place to do either. How someone lives, loves, or believes, is their business. If they are not criminals, it isn’t my or society’s place to judge them. I can decide if they are people I want in my world. I am allowed to decide if I like them as people. We allow children to act. We tolerate those we can not avoid. I embrace the people in my world, even though I don’t always understand them.

I’d mention Aj. Her faith and beliefs are not mine. I don’t quite understand how her path took her to being Pagan. I really don’t care. I do know that she’s my best friend. I know the world is a better place for having her in it. I know she’s a confidant. She knows my secrets. She knows the places in me that I do not want to visit. The strength of her faith has made me a better Christian.

I’d also say something about Z. Her courage inspires me. She allows me to use her in this blog. She makes no attempt to be anything other than the person she is. She’s the prayer partner mentioned above. She’s a great person. She happens to be a Lesbian. That really doesn’t make her a better or worse person any more than having curly hair does. It’s just a tiny part of the person she is.

I’d finish with a bit about gratitude. I am grateful. I have some wonderful people that allow me to share their lives. They put up with my insecurities. They laugh at my bad jokes. They see my sarcasm and sometimes join in. They have taught me about love. I have learned to embrace people that are different. I am entirely grateful to God for the people He has put in my life.

I guess I did know what to write after all…

A Rant

Pardon a tiny rant…

People object to the chance that Z might want to be married because she’s a Lesbian. They approve of Charles Effing Manson getting married because he’s straight. So, being a sane gay person that is a veteran is worse than being a psychotic nutbag murderer. Okie dokie, I guess my views are skewed. *sigh* I’m on Z’s side in this one.

Rant over.

All of Us

I was having a conversation with myself. *editorial, I do that a lot. Yes, I’ve been called “odd”. I am, a bit*

M: “Wow, I sure seem to have a bunch of Pagan friends.” M: “Yeah, and?” M: “I seem to have quite a few gay friends, too.” M: “You said something like that before, that affects me how?”

For what it’s worth, my friends are a diverse group. I have some friends that are rigidly dogmatic Christian, too. *editorial, I’m a Heretic Christian. Meaning, I’m not so dogmatic as all that* I have friends that fit the entire political spectrum. I also have atheist friends and Wiccan friends. I have friends that I strongly disagree with. I have some that have views that make me think “you really believe that ?!?”

What I’m getting to is this, I don’t deserve an award for having such a diverse group. I didn’t get to pick them in the first place. They, y’all, just kind of wandered in and didn’t kick me out. The World is a place of marvelous variation. People, Humans, come in all shapes and forms. Most of us wander through trying to figure it out as best we can. We try to find someone and something to love. We seek shelter from the “slings and arrows…” We look for peace and safety in our lives. We want, mostly, to be left alone. We were born. We all will die.

Given our common ground, we are all unique. None of us do things exactly the same. No two of us have the exact same thoughts or views. Our perspectives are shaped by our experiences. None of us will travel the same path. Yet, we are all Human. We all deserve the same basic respect and dignity. That we do things differently doesn’t make us less worthy of being treated as Human.

I’ve said it time and again, just because someone does something differently than you, there is no reason to try to deny them the right to do it. *editorial, excluding criminals* Just because someone loves or believes differently than you deems them no less worthy of the same Rights. Perhaps that is the point.

Perhaps that is the point. What if we quit worrying about the differences? What loss if we decided to embrace the differences? Why not realize that we have common ground in our uniqueness? Why not come to a point that the differences are less important than our basic humanity and worth as individuals? Why not cherish the people that have let us share their lives for the “content of their character”?

I don’t care if you’re Gay or Straight. Doesn’t matter if you have some faith or none. Makes not one tiny bit of difference if you’re male or female. You can share my political views or not.  If you’re Human, you have value not for what you can do for me but, because of who you are. *sigh* I wish we could all see that. I know it isn’t going to happen. I know “utopia” means “no place”. I’m not that idealistic.

For what it’s worth, I’m a lucky guy. I didn’t set out to have such a diverse group of Humans in my life. I don’t always agree with y’all. I don’t have to. Thanks for letting me share your world.

 

Perception #2

This is the second attempt at adding to the last post. *sigh*

What happens when we think something is wrong or a threat? How do we react? Do we look at it objectively or, do we use our subjective judgement?

I read comments on various sites. Sometimes I wish I didn’t. I read blogs and sites as an ally. I read comments that put down my friends. I read people saying they will be “the downfall of this country”. I see trolls saying that the “gay agenda” is out to get them. Those people see a threat where none exists. They want to see something they don’t understand as being against them. *editorial, I don’t understand being a gay man. I’m not attracted to men. I come closer to understanding being a Lesbian as I am married. Not understanding, in my mind, doesn’t make it wrong. I don’t understand my wife, either. I digress…*

I was talking to Z. Here’s the threat she poses, “I pay my taxes. Leave me the fuck alone.” That’s it.

So, where’s the actual threat? Where’s the “downfall of this country”? It isn’t from her.

It is my experience that our fear of the unknown, read “perception”, is usually worse than the thing we fear.

Are there “bad things” out there? Sure. Could they happen to us? Possibly. Are people that only want to be left “the fuck alone” some of those things? No.

Please consider your perception of what is real vs. the actuality of it. Please realize that no one is trying to convert you away from your beliefs. *editorial, I am doing what I just denied. I am trying to convince people that believe there is a threat to not see one.* *sigh* No one wants to change your way of life, they just don’t want you to force them to conform to your’s, either.

I’ll say it again. As a straight married man, my LBGT friends pose no threat to my family. They are not trying to convert us. They are not trying to make me gay. They are not against me because I’m Christian. Period. If Z were a threat, I wouldn’t write about her. If she was trying to cause harm, I wouldn’t feel so strongly that she needed an advocate. *editorial, She doesn’t “need” me to do anything for her. She’s independent as hell and can stand up for herself. She allows me to do it, too* There are groups that ARE threats. There are “hate groups” that advocate violence toward almost anything you can imagine or name. The LBGT community, as a group,  isn’t one. All they are asking for are the same basic human rights as anyone else. That is not too much to ask. Human Rights should be for all humans. *sigh* Maybe I’m asking too much. Maybe some people will never understand that just because a human is a different human than they are, they are no less human. *sigh again*

********

Sorry for the convoluted train of thought this post is.

Perception

I’ve been thinking about perception…

Why is it that we think what is right for ourselves is universally right for everyone?

Why do I assume that I have exclusive title to correctness? I KNOW I’ve been wrong before.

Why do we perceive “different” as “threat”?

Why do I think that my religious views give me the right to impose them on others?

At what point do you change your views? Mine were changed by experience. I learned that although my values are correct…for me, I should not force others to fit my mould.  *editorial, they were changed by Aj, my best-friend-that-is-not-my-wife and Pagan, and Z, a friend I truly admire and Lesbian. I couldn’t “force” either to change and wouldn’t if I could* Anyway, to live is to grow. Views need to change as we age. Perceptions need to be examined, and if proven false, need to adapt. It’s not the reality of things that have changed, it’s our view of it. The older I become, the less important the way other people do things becomes. *editorial, I do not mean criminal acts or actions that, non-criminal, still cause harm or repress* I have stopped finding other people’s faiths or loves to be a danger to my life. In fact, I have come to celebrate the differences that my friends have. It seems to me that having Pagan and gay friends has exposed me to views and people I would have never known. *I hope those friends that have broadened my views read these words and to them, thanks*

I think I’ll let this wind down now and ponder it more.

 

More of an “I’ve Been Thinking” Post

This has been running around in my head for some time. I’ll try and see if it makes sense. I’ve been thinking about intellectual and moral honesty…

I read posts by my Christian friends saying that they want the “religious freedom” to be able to discriminate. *editorial, before I go any farther, I self-identify as “Heretic Christian”*. They think that they are under “attack” by the “gay agenda”. They have cited the Idaho case where a for-profit wedding chapel was told they would have to allow any couple that wanted to get married to be able to or, face fines for violating anti-discrimination laws. My friends have used this example to say that their freedoms are being denied.

I’ll play that game. I wonder if those same friends would, then, have the courage to say that they could defend the right of a store owner that had the religious beliefs that a woman’s head should be covered to deny a Christian woman service for not following that conviction. Would they support denying service to a male without a beard or, do they really mean that they only want religious freedom for those that share their specific beliefs?

It’s not Freedom if what you mean is “you can do what you want as long as it’s the way I do things”. That is the opposite. Standing up for Freedom means that you stand for the rights of those that do things differently.

More Thoughts on Prejudice and Fear

Before I start, to clear things up about this post. I am not regretting writing these or wanting to quit because I have no desire to write these…

I wish I could quit writing this blog. I wish there was no need for it. I wish that I didn’t feel a need to convince people that fearing someone because of how they love or what faith they have was not needed. *editorial.I know that being Pagan and being gay are not the same.*

I wish there was one tool or magic dust I could sprinkle that would erase fear and prejudice.

I wish that I could convince people that who I was, a meth addict, did actual harm to society. That, where I get praise for being an “ex”, it is undeserved. Being praised for no longer being a criminal is ridiculous. Being Pagan or LBGT is neither criminal nor harmful, yet, those people are scorned and I am not. Why?

To be entirely honest, I do not like every member of those communities I have met. Not every person is designed to like every other person. Having said that, the reason for the dislike are not their faith or who they love.

I can not see myself becoming a member of either group. It isn’t the way I’m wired.  It won’t stop me from standing up for them just because I don’t understand. I mention my Pagan friend, Aj. I don’t understand how she came to her faith. I don’t really care. Being Pagan is part of who she is. That’s enough for me. The person she is has become my best friend. I don’t understand why Z is attracted to women. *editorial, as a straight male, I do understand liking women* That, too, doesn’t matter. If I didn’t already have a best friend, Z would be a good one to fill that spot. She’s a treasure. *other editorial, that is just a comment on her worth as a person. Z should be someone’s best friend. she’s great* I do know that being a Lesbian is a part of who Z is. That’s all I need to understand.

Prejudice puts us in the position of deciding that we, by accident of birth, are better than someone else. We are not. Fear of what we are prejudiced against makes us want to repress. We should not. To say that I have some innate value that is greater than yours just because I was born doesn’t make sense. If I have earned some value because of study, practice, or talent only gives me greater value in the areas those apply to, not as a human.

To deny Equal Protection because of some perceived self-worth is to deny humanity. If I were to allow myself to be prejudiced against everyone that is “different”, I would be prejudiced against every other human in the world. If I were to fear everything that doesn’t fit the mold I was created in, I would fear everything. I refuse to live my life that way. My wife, as much as I love her, is far from being a copy of me. She has different wants, needs, and likes. That doesn’t make my love for her any less. That, also, doesn’t lessen her value. It merely makes her different.

Please, try to find a way to reach out. No matter if you are Pagan or Christian, gay or straight, try to find the value in other humans. Respect that they have the same capacity for love as you. See that they, too, have the same rights as you. Look for the common ground and ignore the differences. Enjoy the uniqueness and variety inside of the humans around you. Set aside fear and prejudice. Life is far too short…

Coming Out and Teaching the Rest of Us

I wrote a couple of posts about “outing” someone. This is also about that…from a different perspective. It is also directed towards the people that would be outed.

I met and wanted to be friends with both Aj and Z. I felt that they were people I wanted to trust. That has been a correct assessment of both women. They have become people I trust. Here’s the catch. Aj is Pagan. Z is a lesbian. I didn’t know those things until after I had made my decision about them.

Because of my upbringing, I should be prejudiced against them. The faith I was raised in tells me that I should think that they both, for different reasons, are to be consigned to Hell. My past had taught me that they should be scorned and repressed. I find that I can not. Because of them, I can not help but to extend the same lack of prejudice to ANY Pagan or LBGT person. I was educated and taught that my past beliefs were wrong.

The best tool you have, as a member of a marginalized community, to teach is yourself. Your life and the way you live it can educate. You can remove prejudice by teaching us that we have no reason to fear you.

If it is safe, let people know about yourself. Let them see that you are a person of character and value that happens to be (fill in the blank). Let them see that you are no different in wanting something to believe or someone to love than they are. Let them appreciate your contribution to their life because of yours.

Having said all that, if it is NOT SAFE, please, please DO NOT come out. No amount of education is worth risking harm to yourself or your family. Not everyone is like me, willing to learn. I was taught by two great ladies. They saw something in me that made them trust me. If you do not see that, stay away. I’d rather that I try to teach than for you to take a risk. My words might be less effective but, protecting yourself is more important than being effective.

One last thought, I am a lucky person for knowing Aj and Z. It is to my benefit that they are in my life. I am truly grateful that they decided they could trust me. Because of Aj, there are now more Pagans that interact with my world. Since I don’t judge them through a religious filter, I get to interact with them as people. They are more open minded than most of the people I normally know. That’s a gain since my faith has persecuted their’s and they don’t hold it against me. Z, on the other hand, is Z. I get to write for her, confide in her, and go to her for prayer. Having someone that I want to stand up for has made me a better person. Because of who she is, I found the courage within myself to be a voice for her. You will never realize how much better a person and husband that has made me.