I recently attended a family barbeque wherein various topics were discussed in parallel to the consumption of a few adult beverages. There were not many of us to begin with, but towards the end, as people progressively left, three of us remained to enjoy each other’s company.
My family is considerably religious and I have only recently voiced my averse feelings towards their superstitions. It’s not that these are new thoughts, I’m simply opposed to confrontation with my family. This is actually somewhat strange because I have no problem with confronting strangers – generally. But my silence on such matters has produced unwanted presumptions.
It seems that most people think of me as conservative – socially, politically, morally and however else one would apply such a label. I attribute this to the following: I served in the Marine Corps, I worked for a defense contractor for several years, my family is predominantly catholic, and I have a social anxiety that hinders me from speaking my mind in front of groups. On the surface these are all trite – one has to look deeper into someone’s life and deeds to understand the person – however, these are the types of details that we generally focus on. How much we really know of someone else comes with genuine interaction and curiosity.
Most of the people in my life, for instance, don’t fully understand what I mean when I say, “I enjoy reading, studying, and writing.” I think most people are incapable of fully comprehending the degree to which one can love such things, because the majority of those we interact with are not remotely engaged in such activities. There are others, of course, who simply ignore what you’re telling them because it bores them. But it’s not hard to catch their attention – just disagree with them. I disagreed with my family and I learned a lot about them.
First, I think it’s appropriate to say that I’m really not offended and I still love them a great deal – I’d just like to share their silly comments with others. After expressing my support for gay marriage while countering their position by citing the hypocrisy of Christian morals, I noticed an acute change of tactics. The discussion became sagaciously focused on ad hominem attacks and frail conjecture. Specifically, remarks such as “liberal puke” and “redneck fucktard” were proliferating more than reasonable analysis of counter-points. It was sad, yet entertaining; mostly owing to the genuine yet jaunty nature of the debate.
Now, I tried to preface my initial interjection by clarifying that I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. Such labels are wasteful and superficial diversions. Both take extreme positions on subjects that require reasonable compromise and to support either incorrigibly is the root of our troubles. But all of my pleadings fell on deaf ears. It seems that to support one tenet, you support them all. I do not, for example, support the degree of regulatory legislation that is currently circulating with respect to guns. The second amendment is unambiguous on this topic. I support such rights, not because I own a weapon (which I don’t), but because such rights guard against totalitarianism. Even if we lived in the most pristinely humanistic society, the potential for tyranny would still exist; and history has taught us that power hungry humans seek such “potentials” for exploitation. Nevertheless, I support certain regulations such as internet and gun-show background checks. To me, these are reasonable.
Returning to the topic at hand, oppressing an entire demographic is wholly undemocratic. This adage, when applied generally, goes without saying; however, when applied to marriage equality we find ourselves at odds with those we would otherwise consider kindred. Removing, for a moment, the moral underpinnings of their position from this debate, the new outcry is focused on democracy; specifically, the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse a proposition that was democratically passed. At first glance they have a point. Or do they? Should the majority have the right to oppress a minority? If the rights in question are afforded to the majority, how can one logically conclude that another demographic is underserving? So, in fact, the Supreme Court acted in a way that defines democracy: they protected the minority.
This was the crux of my argument. It did not change their opinion and I did not expect it to. What I hope we attained from this conversation was an understanding of each other; moreover, an understanding of how each of us came to our respective positions. Nothing is black and white, and each of us deserves the opportunity to express and support our opinions. Disagreeing on polarizing topics such as these do not necessarily mean we disagree on all others. Setting aside these superficial labels that we have become so accustomed to may adequately support future compromise; of which, we as a nation are in desperate need of.