Tag Archives: homosexuality

Diversity, Prejudice and Acceptance: how do you roll?

In my youngest and most formative years, I grew up a minority. I also lived in a string of apartments, a trailer house and a tiny home that was broken into despite the three German Shepherds guarding it and the ten foot high fence surrounding it. I did not have the typical white-washed childhood that many of my current community members have.

I grew up in a world of socio-economic, religious and cultural diversity. At one point, I was one of two white kids in my class. I played with anyone who was nice and steered clear of the meanies. Not because of their skin color or ethnic background, but because of their behavior.

Every day, I am thankful for my real-world education in Human Acceptance 101. On the flip side, I am saddened that my children will not experience the same abundant diversity that I did.

My predominantly conservative little town was recently made famous for two reasons: having a couple apply for the first same-sex marriage license in the state and for having a very public and adverse reaction to this application. While different opinions are great, the way we go about expressing them can be extremely destructive.

I was taught to respect others. I was taught to accept others. I was taught to express my views with open-mindedness and to always remember that everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. I was never taught to hate or to partake in fear-mongering. Prejudice was a dirty word in my home.

Funny, since my parents did this despite their lack of religious conviction. Of the six members of my childhood family, only two of us attend church and openly express our faith. Only three are baptized and confirmed. Two simply don’t believe in God. When I listen to the religious hatred that people use to justify their persecution of gays and lesbians, I can understand why my siblings don’t want to be associated with a church body that uses God’s love to hurt not heal.

This saddens me, though it does not rock my spirituality. You see, I have a strong faith. My love for God was hard-worn. I didn’t grow up in a church, but rather was drawn to it because of the promise God made: Whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

Wow, WHOEVER believes. That’s powerful. That’s amazing. It was utterly unimaginable that He would love a child like me so much He would look past my sins and open His arms to my eternal redemption. But He does. He even promised to love everyone without providing a clause to exclude some believers and not others. In case you’re unfamiliar with His promise, look it up. John 3:16.

My faith in God is not dampened by His judgment–that is between me and Him. My faith in others, however, suffers greatly when the very sinners that God promised to save use His words to condemn those different from them. Personally, I feel this detracts from the message Christians wish to spread to the world. It turns people away from a faith we want them to embrace.

The only way that using God’s words against anyone for any reason is acceptable is if the individual using such words is sinless. I am not. I have broken many a commandment in my day. Sure I’ve never killed anyone, but I have gossiped. Same thing in God’s eyes. Neither have I robbed a bank, though I once took a small bowl from Perkins to provide water for my puppy. Thief either way.*

We are all sinners. We have all fallen short of God’s glory. We do so every day. Amen.

But that isn’t my only concern with this heated issue. I also get squirmy when people use the whole “breaking up traditional marriage” thing as a defense against allowing everyone in the world to openly love who they love. Why? Because there is no traditional family anymore.

None.

I work in the family law business. I provide custody evaluations. I help divorcing or separated parents figure out custody and parenting time arrangements. My job would be unnecessary if the traditional family wasn’t in jeopardy. And trust me, the reasons behind the divorces, separations and one night stands have nothing to do with whether a gay couple got married or not. Every single case I’ve worked in the past five years has been composed of two heterosexuals.

These families are broken by abuse, adultery, chemical dependency, crime and poverty. Currently, an estimated 65% of children live in mixed families. That is terrifying and in much greater need of attention than whether or not two women can lovingly live together.

One night stands between homosexuals do not result in unwanted pregnancies. In fact, babies adopted into homosexual families are hard-won. They are wanted and planned for, and often fought for despite extreme opposition. This isn’t the case for all babies. Cohabitation and casual relationships are becoming normalized by society to the point where over 40% of all babies are born to unmarried women, a number expected to skyrocket by 2016. (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/unmarry.htm)

This, more than gay marriage, threatens the integrity of the traditional family, as does the rate of adverse childhood experiences. According to a 2009 study by the CDC, 59.4% of adults questioned reported having at least one adverse childhood experience including divorce, abuse (physical, sexual and/or verbal) and mental illness in the home. That’s a lot of suffering that has nothing to do with homosexuality.

I realize that some people reading this will agree with me and others will not. That’s okay. I accept and encourage different world views. After all, every one of us comes to a situation with vastly different life experiences and belief systems. Likewise, I am not asking anyone to change their opinion on this issue. Rather, I simply ask that everyone (those in favor of and those opposed to any hot-button topic) examines how they deal with ideas that challenge their beliefs.

Know that even if you are vehemently against same-sex marriage or enthusiastically for it, I don’t judge you personally. I only judge your behavior. There is room in this world to respect and accept others who differ from us in myriad of ways.

I was lucky to grow up among diversity. I love that we are all different. I hate television and haven’t turned one on in years. My Dear Hubby uses it to relax. He golfs: I don’t. My eldest loves spaghetti: my youngest does not. One neighbor is a vet tech while another is a retired PE teacher. My pastor is single, I’m married and some of my best friends have been divorced. My brother dislikes kids even as I would have a hundred of my own.

If we were all the same, life would be very boring and not worth living. If we continue to hate, there will never be peace–not within ourselves, our homes or our communities.

How do you deal with opposition in your life? Do you use reason or emotion to debate? How do you separate your beliefs and fears from the facts?

Curious minds want to know.

*The statute of limitations is long up on this infraction, though the memory of my theft still haunts me.

**I welcome any and all respectful comments. Those who attack will be deleted without apology.

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Controversy Alert! Judgement Day

Our tiny town lost a child yesterday.  A first grader succumbed to cancer.  Whatever your faith, whatever your nonfaith, whatever your journey or life experience, this is a tragedy.  A life lost before it got started.  A potential never reached.  Silence, not laughter.  Emptiness never to be filled with love and joy and the growing pains of raising an innocent child to adulthood.

Sadly, a dear friend relayed the loss of a child in her hometown two days ago.  An eighth grader took his own life.  Rumor had it he was bullied.  Another loss.  Another silence in the hearts of family, friends, neighbors, teachers, basketball coaches, peers, future employers, a future spouse and future children.  Another gaping hole where once a child lived.

Each and every life is precious.  Each and every one.

Yet, if I started layering these stories with other information, opinions might begin to change.  Humans are judgemental.  We let our values and prejudices interfere with our basic human compassion.  We put ourselves–and those like us–on pedestals and deem others somehow inferior, somehow less deserving.

I hear it all the time.  As a court advocate for kids, as a mother, a member of social groups, a Christian, a wife, a coworker.  Every role I play puts me in a position to hear–and pass–judgment on others.

Too often, I hear compassion slip away as information is revealed.

“Her dad is black.”  Or Hispanic.  As if this is somehow the reason behind the grades a child gets in school or how well she sits in class.  For the record, plenty of “white” kids get poor grades and fidget through first grade.  They also bring weapons to school and drink and get detention for smart-mouthing teachers.  Yet, I’ve never heard, “Her dad is white.”

“He’s gay.”  As if this somehow negates the very idea that he could love a child without having perverse thoughts toward it.  Hello, folks.  Lots of molested children are victims of heterosexuals.  Lots.  More than you care to consider.  Some of them by biological fathers or grandfathers or uncles or brothers or mothers.  Yes, that happens, too.  And far more often than you’d care to consider.  Our children’s sexual safety isn’t in danger from homosexuals, but rather from a pool of psychologically aberrant individuals taken from every race, religion, gender and profession.

“Ugh.  She lives in a trailer.”  As if this automatically relegates a child to a life of unwashed clothes, headlice and burger flipping.  I grew up in a trailer, as did my business-owning, neat-as-a-pin, liceless brother-in-law.  I’ve been in tidy trailers and trashed mansions.

“But they’re Muslim.”  Or Catholic, or Buddhist, or Methodist, or Lutheran, or Atheist, or Wiccan.  As if these people are incapable of doing anything productive, compassionate or selfless simply because of what they believe or don’t believe in regards to faith.  Plenty of Christians I know are hypocritical, selfish and judgemental.  Just like plenty of people in every other religion or nonreligion known to man.

We are human.  We persecute those different from us.  We are brash and cruel, thoughtless and dehumanizing.  We forget the very basic, underriding compassion for others even as we tell the world how wonderful we are.

We suppress and oppress.  We judge people on factors that may or may not have any impact on events, behaviors or failures.  We generalize and stereotype.  We inhibit and prohibit.

We forget to strip away the irrelevant information and remember that underneath, we were all innocent children.  Are innocent.  That we are all precious and deserving of respect and compassion regardless of where we came from, whom we love or what our faith.

Take a moment to evaluate your own prejudices and judgements.  Ask yourself where they came from and why you feel the way you do.  Consider if your feelings have been passed down through the generations and have relevance in your life in the here and now.  Is it a stereotype you’ve learned from television, the newspaper, your preacher?  Is it a generalization you’ve made based on personal experiences?  Is holding onto it conducive to living your life?  Do you take into account other’s personal experiences before foisting your values onto them?  Do you have room to improve?

You don’t need to answer those questions here, but I ask that you think about them as you go about your day.  Don’t let the loss of our innocent children slip away forgotten, because underneath the labels we paste on ourselves and others, we are all inherently the same.

hugs~

*Thoughtful and respectful commentary is welcome, regardless of the content.  However, any blatantly disrespectful comments will not be approved.  This blog does not support attacking individuals or groups of individuals for any reason.

The Secret Agenda of Banned Books? Pshaw!

Okay, so I had a warm and fuzzy post in mind to honor Banned Books Week.  I truly did.  And then I ran across a post that made me spitting mad.

The question addressed: is banned books week really a contrived affair for gays to promote themselves?

Yeah, some people really believe that.

And that’s fine.  I’m all about people getting to have and keep their own opinions.  It’s one of the things that makes America great.  HOWEVER, I do have an issue with people bashing others in the name of “what’s best for the children.”

Folks, I have four kids.  I read what my kids read.  I talk to my kids about life and the very difficult issues that life throws their way.  I know who drinks in my kids’ high school, who smokes and who’s having sex.  I know which kids bully, which ones cut and which ones struggle with family issues.  I know life stinks for many reasons and growing up is dang hard.

Knowing this does not give me the right to parent other people’s kids any more than other parents have the right to raise mine.  Nor does it give me the right to blame writers and musicians for my failings as a parent.  I can’t blame the neighbor, the neighbor’s dog, the swimming instructor or the mayor.  I am a parent.  My kids are my responsibility.  If I don’t want them reading smut, it’s my job not to let them read it.  If I don’t want them to play on the railroad tracks, it’s my job not to let them.

I can’t demand that the train company remove the tracks from my town because my kid might get hurt.  Nor can I call them Baby Killers Out to Harm Unsupervised Children Having Innocent Fun Playing on Train Tracks.

Parents, lean in closely.  You are in charge of your own kids.

Aaaand, back to the topic at hand.  I want you to read the post I linked to in its entirety.  But if you don’t, I’ll paste my favorite quote for you to ponder.

(Linda) Harvey (of MissionAmerica.org) said the ALA “has become a megaphone for leftist values and a  disinformation tool to prevent traditional values from getting much shelf space  in libraries.”

I have  never told Ms. Harvey how to raise her children, what they should read, how they should dress or any other type of parenting skills that come with the pleasure of having children.  I honestly don’t even know if Ms. Harvey has kids, and in truth, it’s irrelevant.

What matters is that I am a very religious mother who teaches my kids a certain set of “traditional” morals and values.  And yet, I do not ban, challenge or in any way, censor how other parents raise their progeny.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if you don’t want to read it, don’t. If you don’t want your kids to read it, don’t let them.

In the same vein, if you don’t want something to go viral, shut up about it.

If people would quit challenging books, there would be no list.  Period.   And that alone would take care of the Gay Conspiracy to Ban Books with the Sole Purpose of Luring Children to the Dark Side.

Seriously?  I have better things to do with my time…like raise my own happy, healthy and well-adjusted kids.  A daunting task in its own right.  I certainly don’t have enough time left over to raise everyone else’s.

So, dear readers, do you think Banned Books Week promotes the evils of the world?  Do you believe that validating a child’s experience (ie reading a book with a protagonist kids can relate to) encourages poor choices?

Curious minds want to know.

Read more: Is library association’s ‘Banned Book Week’ really ‘gay’ promotion?