What will it take to change this world and to make it a place where all can live in peace, in love, and in happiness?
This is one of those nagging questions that run through my head in the course of an average day. That, and a couple of hymns, or fractional anthems. My mind travels down such strange pathways that I often wonder if "My thoughts are not my thoughts, but somebody's idea of an ironic wordplay to keep my head spinning."
Back to my reflexive question. The phrase that comes back to me as the answer is one that I heard Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori use during one of her webcasts. She spoke of the importance of "incarnational encounters." Of course, this is in reference to gay and lesbian people...and that's where I'm headed with this. If people who are LGBT would come out, in a simple and matter-of-fact way, I think hateful legislation such as the anti-marriage amendments, and the Arkansas adoption law, would go down in defeat. If more people understood...through knowing somebody who is gay or knowing a gay couple...that the amendments on the ballots were meant to do harm to the gay community, I am about 80-percent sure they'd have voted against it. I'm leaving the 20-percent for those who are the hard-core opponents, the ones who know a lesbian, like their lesbian friend, might even have her over for dinner, drinks and football....and would have still voted "Yes" because of a strange attachment to the word "marriage". There's no way to have a dialogue with the hard-core because they are so certain of how right they are.
But the 80-percent...and I do think it's that many...are the reachable ones. The ones who have the ability to see the humanity of another. And who are able to recognize that a person who has a different sexual orientation than their own is first and foremost a person, not simply a sex act. I wonder how many of that 80-percent are aware of the consequences of the votes taken on "same-sex marriage" in Florida, California and Arizona? My guess is that many of them didn't think about it. And it's not because they hate gay people. It's because this isn't an issue that rises to the top of their consciousness because it doesn't effect them personally. But what if they had been made to see the inherent wrongness of voting to limit the rights of Bill, or Karen, or Tanya who was Tony?
And the only way I can see to make the majority more aware is for us "others" to claim our identity as LGBT people and be out. If we live our lives openly with the grace and love that is within us, minds and hearts will start to change. If we make contributions to our communities, be it the neighborhoods where we live, the religious institution we attend, or the shelters that are housing "the least and the lowest" among us and we do so not hiding our orientation, we will start to shed some light onto the dark descriptions our opponents put out there about who we are. Baby steps such as this will lead to greater distances gained in the long run. If fear of the unknown is what motivates people to vote "Yes" on a Prop. 8 or Amendment 2...then let them know who that "unknown" is!
Get involved. And don't hide your rainbow light under a bushel, but instead let it burn bright. Perhaps its brightness may pierce through the fog in which the majority seem to wander and make them see that this world HAS to change.