dehumanize

Some Not Really Connected Thoughts…

Still thinking…

When we decide that we are “sitting in judgement” are we really doing what is right? We have an obligation to decide what is criminal, meaning causing harm to others, but, what about other actions? What about someone’s beliefs? Someday, I’ll stand before my maker and have to talk about MY life, not yours.

When we presume to judge the condition of someone’s soul, we are taking from God, that power and responsibility. We, as Christians, are warned against that. We are told, specifically, that the same standard we use will be used on us. If we judge based on our perceptions of “flawed” are we so very sure that His perception of “flawed” will not include some aspect of us? Are ANY of us so perfect that every bit of us can stand the scrutiny that we apply to others?

I KNOW I could not pass that test…

*****

Divination scares me. Rituals scare me. So, I don’t practice them. Makes you wonder why I am so protective of Witches? Because Witches don’t scare me. I know too many. I just don’t ask them about the ritual aspects.

*****

“With great power comes great responsibility”

We, each of us, has the power of life and death. We believe that our own view is the most important. We know that we, ourselves only,  are unique.

So, what do we do with that? Do we use our “power”, meaning our innate sense of self and value, to condemn, in our view, others for being “not us” and not “unique” or do we recognize that other people are just as individual?

That’s the question…and the power. We may recognize that people have the same rights of self and individuality that we so strongly claim or we may remove them from humanity, and life, by piling them into a group that we think are less than us and giving them “death”.

To trivialize someone for their belief is to take away from our own. To claim significance for ourselves and say that our view stands above the rest minimizes our beliefs just as we do to them. Being the biggest algae in the pond is no accomplishment. I’d rather stand among peers of strong faith and belief…even if I do not share them…than be just another green slime claiming to be king…

*****

These were just some stuff that bounced around. My life, out here, was busy for a couple of weeks because of work. Feel free to ask me stuff. I’ll answer. We might disagree. I might become defensive because I do “cherry pick” the Bible. I believe that we all do. We take the parts we want and “disregard the rest” to paraphrase Simon and Garfunkle…

I’ll leave you with this, my views are valid…for me…I’ll defend your right to your perspective, even if I don’t share it.

Advertisements

Reason Has Left the Building

 

I am a Facebook junkie. I have friends that the only way to keep up with is through it. When I am home, it is almost always open in a tab. I am also open to enough views that I do not filter the people I know based on politics, faith, or if they’re LBGT or straight. I am getting tired of people, though. I’ll explain, it is now popular to vilify and demonize people that have, for lack of a better term, “beliefs” that disagree with our own. We no longer seek balance or conversation. We have become mentally lazy. Note the word “we”, I’m just as guilty no matter how hard I try.

To digress, the World is becoming less “nice”. To be honest, I’m two-faced. There is a Nice Miller and an A$$hole Miller. Both are true and both have their uses. Back to the digression. Because of the Web, we are more connected and more able to find views that confirm our own. *editorial, this is not an original thought* There’s even a term “confirmation bias”. Briefly, it means that we tend to believe that which agrees with our views and see falseness in that which does not.

Further digression, I was talking to Z and we both agree. I think I’ll just quote her directly. *editorial, this is a copy/paste from the conversation* “The world is not nice right now…It’s easier to look to blame than to reach out a hand or try to find what is similar and build from there. Most won’t take the chance instead allowing fear and distrust to rule… I think if I have to TRY to find something similar, we aren’t. Similarities are glaring. Out there. Visible. I DO fear a lot of things. Seeing what happened in Paris and Colorado recently, the people who don’t value human life scare me. Because THEY have no fear. They have nothing to fear…”

When we turn people into a label, we remove their humanity. As an example, if all you see of Z is “that dyke b**h”, you just removed her humanity. You don’t see what I see. You don’t see the first person I go to with my fears and prayers. You don’t see a mom that loves her kids. You don’t see someone that acknowledges both her weaknesses and her strengths. Z is not perfect but, she’s the very best at being herself that she is able to be. You don’t see someone that is uncompromisingly honest with herself and everyone else. You don’t see one of the rare few HUMANS that I trust. You also miss the person that is brave enough to have been the example I have used for two years of this blog and the partner and encourager since the start. All you see is a label. All you see is your bias.

We, again including me, label. We are quick to forget the underlying humanity of the person. Because we can not “walk a mile in their shoes”, we do not understand what shaped the views of the other person. We did not live their life and have their past. We might have shared some of their path but, not all. We only see what they project and a “sound bite” of their thoughts. We may think we do but, no one truly knows the inside of someone else’s head.

Back to the spot I started…well, maybe the middle…Today, we excuse dehumanizing those that disagree with us. Read the comments sections on any political site. It doesn’t matter if it’s liberal or conservative. At some point, some person will advocate violence against those that disagree. People of faith, some anyway, advocate death to people that are not of the same faith. People that will admit the existence of a kind and loving God are willing to say that “all (fill in the blank) must die”. In parts of the world that are not the USA, it is a capital crime for Z to be Z. In the USA people are willing to advocate, and act on, a belief that people need to be non-judicially killed for legal actions. Again, all as a result of not seeing humans as human.

How did we get here? How did the Sixties and “live and let live” turn into this? I am not a “hippie” in the classic sense. Nor am I advocating lawlessness. What I am trying to say is that we need to give as much “space” for others to live as we demand ourselves. If we set a standard for a person we disagree with, are we willing to have that strict, or open, a standard applied to ourselves? If we accuse someone of bias, do we admit our own? If the dogma of my faith is valid for me, does the same context apply to someone that does not share mine?

I’m not saying we have to agree. I don’t even agree with all of the things my wife thinks. What I am advocating is a return to reason. To the rational thought that disagreement can be civil. That dissenting opinions are not “treason”. That conversation designed to persuade is still possible.

*sigh*

I’m tired. Perhaps the solution is to quit paying attention to jerks? Maybe I should avoid the news and politics? It isn’t too much to ask that we be civil. It isn’t too far a stretch to expect adults to quit calling names like children. “He hit me first”, never worked when we were kids.

*sigh again*

It isn’t that I feel picked on. This post isn’t about how I’m treated. You want to blame white, straight, Christian, middle-aged, Texan, males for the sins of the world, have at it. It doesn’t make me any difference what you think of me. Just, please, don’t blame everyone else. Don’t blame Z. Perhaps, though, before you blame someone else, you should look in the mirror and see what part that person gets, too. Not one of us are innocent. Once we start with our own imperfection, then we begin to see reason.

*Apologies for the awkward ending*

What the Hell Was He Thinking?

“Hey Sarah, I can make you straight”…so what he really said was “all you need is a good f**k” to her. I wasn’t there but, I’m assuming it was a casual comment. He didn’t see anything wrong with what he said. He could have added, “You’re not really human. You’re just legs to be spread and tits to be played with. Every time I see you, I see you naked in bed”. He could have just as easily added, “I know you’re a dyke but, that won’t matter if I rape you. You’ll like it…” Every bit of that was in that comment that was casually made.

All that in one passing comment to one woman. I’m finding out that those comments are far from uncommon. I know women walk in public being undressed with the eyes of men. I know it happens more often than it doesn’t.

Even when it’s someone we know, we don’t see people, we see objects. How can you really believe she’s human and tell her you think that doing something to her that she will never want to do is good for her? If you had just been with the “right man”…Hey, A$$hole, she’s a Lesbian and has kids. She’s been with a man… more than once… What the hell do you think you could do? She knows the f**king difference and likes women.

Every woman I talked to said the same thing, every day they feel like someone is “undressing” them. You can not go a single day without seeing casual comments about “b**ch slapping”, rape, “men like women who…” and myriad  other things. The simple and casual degradation has become so pervasive that we don’t even think about it…

Even to the point that I’m questioning myself. I catch myself becoming angry…and possessive…and begin to wonder if I’d be so angry if it was someone else, someone unknown? Were it not, “MY best friend” “MY loved ones” but, just some person that I don’t know?…

I started this blog writing about two Ladies I love. I was writing about Religious freedom for one of them and LBGT Rights for the other. The context was that they were citizens and deserved the same rights. That was and still is true. It missed a bigger issue…

We have a culture that sets the status quo as treating women as objects and possessions. We tell women to accept the casual comments and random offers of violence as normal. We tell them they are at fault when they are raped. We don’t even think there’s anything wrong when someone goes to a Lesbian and tells her she needs a good f**king to “make you straight”. We don’t even see humans, all we see are tits and spread legs.

I thought this was just going to be one post, a few days ago, about how women are talked down about when they have other things to do than date or sleep with some random guy. I was writing one for Aj because she was pissed about how casually it happens in the workplace…I was wrong. The more I talk to people and the more I see what happens around me, the more I realize that things are totally effed.  The more angry I become and the more I realize that someone, me, needs to say stop. It isn’t a “teach your kids” issue. That simplifies things far too much. There is a huge double standard…it’s an “open your damn eyes” issue. It’s a “what is wrong with you, don’t you have a mother?” issue.

I wonder if that guy that made the comment to Z would think it’s ok if some guy came up to him and said “I’ll give you a good f**king and you’ll never go back to women”? Would that be good with him? I mean, he didn’t think he was saying anything wrong to Z when he said essentially the same thing.

Until we get past that attitude, the “all she needs is a good f**k” things will stay wrong. Blaming her for what is done to her, meaning rape, assault, or emotional abuse, is wrong. Blaming her for your own inability to get laid because YOU are an a$$hole, is wrong. Saying “If you don’t want to entice a rapist, don’t wear high heels so you can’t run from him … If I’m walking around in my underwear and I’m drunk. Who else’s fault can it be?” (Chrissie Hynde) *yeah, a woman said that one* Means things are so pervasive and invasive that we are beyond effed…

Too angry and frustrated to write any more, all I have left is a string of profanities that would end with “Hey, A$$HOLE, SHUT YOUR STUPID F**KING MOUTH” so, I’ll just let this one end…

What If…

This is another wandering around a train of thought posts, bear with me…

What if I weren’t born a hetero, white, Christian, male? What if I were born Z? *editorial, Lesbian, white, Christian-ish, female* Would my opinion still count? What if my politics weren’t a mishmash of Conservative, Liberal, and Libertarian? Would I have a valid point when I voted? Would God hear my voice? Would you discount my view as being self-serving? When I admit my bias toward Z, do you think I’ve fallen for an “agenda”? When I bash my coreligionists, is it your thought that I’m waging a “War on Christianity” or leading to the “decline in morals” in the USA?

Here’s the thing, our views are self-serving. Our world view fits our ideal and not reality. The expression “in a perfect world…” is really how we think things ought to be. That’s a huge problem when the truth smacks us in the face…

The world, by that I mean “my world” is a messy place. It’s full of adapted views, hypocrisy, conflicting politics, built in bias, and a host of failings and mistakes. I’m not always “nice”. I can be profane, callous, and rude. I have to self-edit so I’m not judgmental. I am, mostly, apathetic toward the world at large. *editorial, sorry, I just am*

I’ve learned that I am able to be wrong and survive. I’ve changed views to accommodate personal bias. I’ve come to the conclusion that things are not even close to being as black and white as I would have them…

*deep breath*

So…where does that leave us?

Truth be told, I do what I’m speaking against. This blog, every post, has been “in a perfect world…”

I’m asking something that is hard. I’m asking you to change your views. *sigh* I’m trying to get you to think, “what if I were wrong?” “What if I were the one I dislike?” “What if I were on the receiving end of MY prejudices?” “What if people called me what I call them?”

*sigh*

I’m trying to get you to think, “what if I were wrong?” “What if I were the one I dislike?” “What if I were on the receiving end of MY prejudices?” “What if people called me what I call them?” “How would I react if someone told me I DESERVED to be treated like I treat them and I am supposed to accept it as the nature of things?” “What if I was told I was worthless because I was different?”

I freely admit my bias. I am Pro-Z. Sure, there are things about her SHE would change. I can not think of one I would. I will say it again, if she weren’t worth the effort, I would not write. I’d have lost interest a year ago or more. I AM NOT a “social justice warrior”. I just don’t care that much. The problem is *insert hypocritical view* I have to try to persuade you to see her as a human. I have to try to convince you to see a stranger as a person. If you don’t see her, perhaps, you see someone else. To change Z’s world, I mean to change the world for people I don’t know, too.

That’s the entire point. It is personal. There are more than just LBGT’s. “LBGT” is a demographic made of individuals. If it were as simple as just a string of letters being affected and not discreet humans, it wouldn’t be a problem. Letters don’t care. Letters can be erased, re-written, or ignored. People can not.

I’m asking the hardest thing. I’m asking you to see a “them” as “me”.

*****

I will always be on Z’s side. It is bias that will not change. I am not writing this for LBGT Rights or a Gay Agenda. I am writing for her. Every post has her at the top of my mind…I suppose, though, if you are one of those letters, I’m writing it for you, too.

Finally, I write these for me. I write to remind myself that I have changed and will continue. I write because I have a friend that deserves protection and a voice. I write because I need to.

They Really Believed What They Wrote

I’ve waited a few days to write this. I’m trying to be semi-polite. It would have been hard at the point of impact…

I do Facebook. There’s a group that I’m a member of that is made up of a mixed bag of writers, artists, free-spirits, and the random grumpy old man Op/Ed blogger…also, it seems at least one person that entirely missed the point *sigh* I received this note “ just want you to know my recent article has nothing to do with your friend. I really do wish her the best. But, the way this is going about is all wrong” and then a blog post about how if someone wanted to get married they should go to a state that allows it. It was couched in the assumption that the blogger didn’t care what people did as long as the blogger wasn’t forced into dealing with it. It said that we should allow states to deprive citizens of their rights because it was a “slippery slope” leading to polygamy, incest, and marrying “refrigerators and goats”. Also, there was some mention of “deformed kids”. *sigh*

*****

Ok, so, yeah, I took it personally. I still do. I will tomorrow, next week, and next year *sigh* I mean, I don’t take stupid personally. They just can’t help it. I do take the idea that we are allowed to vote someone, Z, into second-class citizenship personally. I do take the idea that you would name me in a link so that you could say “nothing to do with your friend” personally. I take the idea that you think that you think that Z is a “slippery slope” because she wants the same rights that you demand, personally. I take the idea that you think the Constitution that protects your right to post some inane nonsense about marrying livestock and appliances shouldn’t protect one of the people I love personally. What? You thought by saying “nothing personal” that it wasn’t?

In all fairness, the blogger did say this ” But my beliefs are mine and yours are yours and guess what? We don’t have to agree with each other. What we do have is freedom of speech and the freedom to disagree and walk away. That is it. We do not have the freedom to force our beliefs and opinions on others.”…then the blogger went on to say what they wanted was more important than treating all citizens equally.

You see, the Constitution is very non-specific about who is granted “equal protection” when it makes that point. It says “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” There are no exceptions listed in the words “any person”. It doesn’t specify gender, orientation, race, or faith. It uses the word “citizens”.

We don’t have a Constitutional right to not be exposed to things we disagree with. I’m allowed to be offended. I am not allowed to tell you that you can not do what you’re doing because it offends me. *caveat, I am not talking about criminal acts, merely legal acts by adults* I can not tell the author of the blog I’m writing about to not publish because it offends me. I can write a response. I can remove that person from the group that I choose to have contact with.

****

I’m still trying to wrap my head around this. The author would argue that Charles Effing Manson is allowed to get married because he’s straight and that doesn’t re-define marriage. They would say that I, an ex-addict, am allowed to get married because I’m straight. They’d maintain that a 90 year old man is allowed to marry an 18 year old woman that wants his money because they are straight but, that if Z finds a woman she loves, she is not allowed to get married? That her desire to be married would be invalid because she’s gay? Hunh? At what point did we get to judge who has a valid reason to get married? At what point do we decide that someone else’s relationship or inner workings of their household, assuming no crimes committed, are our place to restrict?

*****

The author concludes with this comment “So Veruca go forth and get your goose. I just want you to take a minute and think about the repercussions, the end game, what your wants mean for the rest of us.” I would pose the same thing back to the author. When you set forth the “slippery slope” of deciding that some citizens are less worthy of rights than others, you endanger yourself. It has been less than a hundred years since women were given the right to vote in the USA. Are you willing to risk that? Loving v Virginia was in 1967, are you willing to tell interracial couples that their choice is invalid? Are you willing to stipulate that someone is not allowed to marry outside of their own religion? Better yet, are you willing to allow someone else to dictate those things to you? Are you willing to let a majority view vote away your rights? Are you willing to bet that you and your children will always be the majority and, therefore, safe from persecution? The Constitution was designed to protect minorities from oppression by majorities. It protects basic rights. It forces states to apply laws equally. It gives us a framework that enables us to pray as we wish, love as we wish, speak as we decide to, associate with whomever we choose, to peaceably assemble, and a myriad of other things. It DOES NOT allow us to deprive others of those rights. It doesn’t say “any person except…”

******

Yes, I did take it personally. I will always do that. I get frustrated when someone makes Z a “them” or one of “those people”. I will, every time, respond when someone directs that toward me or Z. She’s not one of those. In fact “those people” are not those. They are humans with the same strengths and weaknesses as any other human. They are women, men, and transgender. They are people that merely want to live their lives without being dictated to by someone’s innate prejudices and fears. They are citizens. They are sisters and brothers. They are loving and worthy of love. They are us.

*sigh*

I still can’t get past the original bit, perhaps it’s fatigue or, perhaps because I wonder about what would make them think I would let it slide or, perhaps because I’m protective of Z I can’t seem to let it go. What were they thinking when they implied “nothing personal, I just don’t think your friend is worth as much as I am”? Did they think that I’d just say, “It’s ok. I recognize that a person I love is unworthy of the same rights as you. That she’s really not important to me”. Here’s a hint, Z isn’t a blood relation yet, she’s family. Given a choice, I’d put her rights in front of mine. She earned hers, I was born into mine.

I’ve beaten this horse into the ground. I don’t know if the author of the blog I’m responding to will ever read this. I don’t really care. I do know that I couldn’t let it pass without a response. This was it.

It’s Not About Gay Rights…

*sigh*

What part of the word “citizens” is confusing? I read something that was a quote by Hannity that said religion was protected in the Constitution and being LBGT was not. Perhaps there’s a mental disconnect? The Constitution says “citizens”. It doesn’t ever use the word “Christians”. Not one time. So, yes, in essence, the comment was correct. It was also incorrect. The Constitution doesn’t address, specifically, the rights of any gender identity or sexual orientation. It says “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States”.

*sigh*

What happens at the end of our lives, besides dying? The process of dying. The medical care we require and the decisions that have to be made. I have someone that has the right and responsibility to make those for me, my wife. She knows what I want. She knows my heart. I trust her. She gets my stuff. Even if we didn’t have a will, she’d still get the stuff.

On the other hand, what about Z? Supposing she were married, her home state does not recognize it. Her wife would not be allowed to make the decisions. Her stuff, if she were intestate, would go to her family and not her wife. Her wife would not be given the dignity and respect, by the hospital, that she deserved.

Z is a citizen. I am a citizen. The Constitution states, plainly, that we have the same protections. Being gay does not make her any less than I am. Period. Saying we have “domestic partnership” laws doesn’t, for me, cut it. A “domestic partnership” is between a man and a dog. A marriage is what humans have.

*sigh*

Sometimes I wonder…I wonder if the parents of gay children see them as less than human? I wonder if the people that oppose equal rights for all citizens see some humans as not human and, thus, not citizens. *I really do not want to understand that mindset.*

I keep trying to be reasonable and rational. I try to figure out what goes through the minds of people that demand their “rights” and are unwilling to see that ALL citizens deserve the same rights. Honestly, being “reasonable and rational” is hard for me. I see someone I love, someone that has gone to war to defend the Constitution and me, being called less worthy than me. I’m not slamming the keys because Z is calmer about this than I am. She’s more patient…or resigned…than I am. If I had my way, we’d have made the changes last week or, last century.

It really isn’t that gay people want to be treated “just like real people”. It is that gay human citizens want the same rights as straight human citizens. It’s that the Constitution doesn’t say any different, no matter what people might think.

That’s the bottom line. I am a human citizen of the United States of America. I have rights and protections under the laws. Z is a human citizen of the United States of America. She should have the exact same rights and protections under the laws. To deny those to her is to say that she’s either not human or, not a citizen. Neither is correct, she is both…and a person worth respect.

Not “gay rights”. Citizen’s rights. That’s all.

Dehumanizing and Other Thoughts

I have a friend that writes a blog. I never knew it. She shares it with no one. She decided that she would let me read it. I am flattered that she would let me see it.

That to this, there was a word that struck a chord with me in one of her posts. The word is “dehumanizing”. The reason why it hit me is because it is the opposite of the what I am trying to do here. I am trying to “humanize”. I am trying to get across the idea that we are humans and have worth. That humans deserve to be treated as such. The excuse that persecution always gives is that someone is less than human. They have to become dehumanized. Otherwise, if they are human, then they are equals and should be treated that way. It is part of my belief, if not yours, that we are all human. That we all have the spark of the Divine within ourselves. That humans are deserving of respect and dignity. That we are not something to be treated like a fire ant or a rabid dog. 

When we label someone a “them”, then we have pushed them out of the “us” ie humans. That is what starts the mental gymnastics that allow us to dehumanize. “I don’t care what ‘they’ do but…” “I wouldn’t want one of ‘them’ marrying MY sister…” “Why do ‘they’ have to put that shrine there? Can’t they see that decent people…” “How DARE ‘they’ do that in public?” “They are just uchy…” “MY GOD, don’t ‘they’ realize?” 

The first phrase, “I don’t care what ‘they do but…” is the most insidious. The word “but” translates as “please disregard my previous”. What is really being said is that I can fool myself into thinking I’m being generous. Truth be known, it isn’t my place to be generous or allow. It is not my right to judge someone who is not a criminal. I am not judge and jury. It is NEVER my place to do that. 

The lesson, over and over, that I’m trying to teach is that we shouldn’t dehumanize anyone.

*****************

I was also pondering some kind words that the same lady shared with me. I don’t want to be “huge”. I don’t want to be a rock star. I’m glad I’m not.I want to be small. If i get my way, I’m the last snow flake that starts the avalanche. No one sees that one, they just see the result. That’s the important part. That my Pagan friends can as openly worship as the Baptists. That my gay friends can have a “church wedding” and everyone compliments the brides and no one thinks anything about it. That I can shut down this blog because you guys made it un-needed. 

I have been given a second chance at life. If there is anything that is about me here, it is because I am grateful for that chance. If you happen upon these words it is because of that chance. It may be first person and to help me grow, too. It is really for you. I’ve got more than I deserve. What I want for me is peace for my friends. I want to be a good husband to my wife. That, truly, is my greatest joy. She deserves my very best, too. 

No, life is not always sunshine, rainbows, and purple unicorns. Yes, there are days that I am totally selfish. Yes, sometimes I want my way. I rarely ever get it. That’s ok, too.

Growth is a process. Mine was emotionally stunted for years. These words and thoughts are part of mine. By my count, I am 8 years and a few months old. Part of my growth has been to learn to love, be loved, and love myself. I have borrowed what courage I need from you guys. I try to repay it the only way I know how. I have my words and my thoughts. I hope that sharing them comes close to a down payment on an unrepayable debt.

The same people that have taught me about love have also, unintentionally, given a lesson about hate. Hate is my least favorite word. It saps emotional energy that rightly belongs to someone else. The energy used for hate is better given to those I love. Hate robs, cheats, and steals. There are very few things worthy of the work it takes to hate. The list, I’m not really counting, is probably less than 10. Hate just isn’t worth the effort. I’d rather love the opposite. 

*That’s it for now, pardon the ramble*