Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Can't We All Just Get Along?

I am truly excited by the ramifications of President-elect Barack Obama. However, I am equally saddened by the passage of Proposition 8, the demand for an amendment to our state constitution that excludes gay and lesbian couples from the definition of marriage. It is a time to celebrate the choice to elect an African American to the Presidency, and it is a time to mourn that those who supported Proposition 8 seem to have forgotten that one of the pillars upon which America was founded was religious freedom. The Pilgrims endured the voyage across the Atlantic so that we could believe according to our innermost hearts. What religious conservatives have forgotten is that also includes the right to believe in something other than Christian principles or to define those principles to include homosexuality as the Metropolitan Community Churches and the Unitarian Universalist churches do.

I have been estranged from the Pentecostal Church for many years precisely because within their tenets I am considered an abomination. It is an ostracism that saddens me, because I am at heart a Christian who has based my life on the principle that I should "love my neighbor as myself." It is a belief that encompasses world peace and healing the environment on this planet and finding ways to share the wealth so that no one dies of hunger. To me, those principles are paramount in my world view.

While the crafters of Proposition 8 are determined to exclude homosexuals from the legal definition of marriage, they seem unconcerned with the state of an institution that is marked by messy divorces and painful revelations about pornography and adultery. For me, having love at the core of any marriage should be the principal intention of any marriage, especially one "sanctioned" by God. Shame on you, so-called Christians, for your hateful and discriminatory campaign.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Monday, Monday

Monday, Monday. Can't trust that the opening lyric of a Mamas and the Papas song from my youth. I used to hum it to myself as I rode to work on Mondays, riding the IRT subway from Harlem to Brooklyn when I lived in New York City back in the days of flower children. Although the song referred to a couple's breakup and the inherent sense of betrayal when that happens, I feel today as though society has sent me a "Dear John" letter of the cruelest kind.

Now I am part of the AARP generation, the flagging Baby Boomers who have nearly reached retirement age in a time when they can no longer afford to retire as food and fuel costs soar into the stratosphere. The promises that hovered around me when I went off to college have all proven to be spurious shams and my neighbors have packed seven family members into a one bedroom apartment while the foreclosure sign is planted on their shriveled lawn.

While the world exclaims over the incredible achievements of swimmer Michael Phelps, I can't afford to buy the Wheaties cereal adorned with his image, complete with the eight medals he achieved in the 2008 Olympic Games. I am not bitter, since I am morbidly obese and coping with diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and sleep apnea: a roll call of conditions that appear in my peers like spring flowers emerging from the earth. My doctor has mandated that I lose the weight, anyway.

I haven't had much to say recently. I have been stunned into silence by the appearance of Russian tanks in Georgia, the resignation of the Pakistani president and the ability of Americans to channel surf while millions die in genocidal purges in eastern Europe and central Africa. Now, instead of soothing ballads, I find myself humming the gospel standard I Ain't Gonna Study War No More...and agreeing with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he challenged us to remember that "Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows."

I was struck by the story about a Georgian athlete at the Olympics hugging her Russian competitor. I applaud the nobility of good sportsmanship, where integrity and effort are rewarded and cheating and mean-spirited bullying are discouraged. I am not Pollyanna: I have read my share of articles about athletes on steroids and hate-filled actions that encompass malicious injuries or dishonest actions. I just wish that we could replace all wars with the generosity of attitude that has been displayed by most of the athletes in the Beijing games.