AnnieKO'Connor

Which Humans are Humans?

6 Comments

I’m about to say something pretty unpopular (among those likely to be reading this): People who vote against marriage equality are human. We should love. They deserve respect, kindness, patience and graciousness.

I’m not saying they deserve it because of how they vote. They don’t. It is not because of any action that such things are deserved.

All humans deserve respect, kindness, patience and graciousness simply for being human. And in the case of everyone I know well, they deserve it in spite of certain things.

Here’s what I really want to say. The reason I support marriage equality is because I support humans. I think it is cruel and dehumanizing when people are disallowed to marry someone they love, when they are told their identity is faulty and evil, when they are told they are lying about their identity, when they are ridiculed and belittled and marginalized and barred from equal civil rights, when people turn a blind eye to the bullying and threats presented against.

So when I feel angry at the people instigating these cruelties, I want to belittle and dehumanize right back. Sometimes it feels good. But I don’t think it is ever right. And more than that, I don’t think it is ever helpful.

I say this because I used to be one of them.

I grew up in the church and in high school became very serious about my beliefs. I wanted to be good, I wanted to obey God and listen to my conscience and uphold the Bible. I argued in my politics classes against marriage equality. I wrote essays on how refusing marriage equality was constitutional. I laughed at jokes about ‘plumbing’ and pitied people who had been “deceived into living a sinful lifestyle”.

But I changed my mind.

It wasn’t because anyone called me a bigot. In fact, no one ever did. Yes, I had disagreements and arguments, but I wasn’t called names, never felt belittled.

When I went to university I wanted to study the Bible more. I took a degree in Theology. I learned a lot. I actually read the Bible. I listened long and hard to what my conscience had to tell me. And I changed my mind. I discovered that humanness matters; humanness is a big deal; humanness is a state of being that deserves respect, kindness, patience and graciousness. It was no longer the sanctity of marriage I felt compelled to uphold, but the sanctity of humans.

When I see things like North Carolina’s overwhelming disapproval of marriage equality, I feel anger, despair, confusion.

And then I remember myself.

Ten years ago I would have cheered. I would have thanked God. If I still believed that way, today I would have gone to twitter to take smug satisfaction from all the angry people calling me a bigot, proud of myself for believing something despite being ridiculed.

This is the person I have to see in the 61% of voters who disallowed marriage equality. It’s harder to hate them when I see my own face looking back. It’s harder to think I can change their minds with anger, with righteousness, with indignation.

And it’s harder to believe there is no hope.

The fight to uphold the sanctity of humans is not over yet.

(I know the vote has caused pain to many people, and the pain and anger need an outlet. I do not mean to say that anyone feeling anger and pain must hold in their feelings or ignore them. I hope and pray that all people distressed by the vote have someone, or even many people, whom they can turn to for comfort and hope. My comments here are regarding the general approach to public discourse.)

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6 thoughts on “Which Humans are Humans?

  1. Thank you, Annie. What a beautiful post.

  2. Two reasons I disagree: (1) It’s easy to say “respect them” when you’re not trying to get married to your boyfriend/girlfriend and live in NC; and (2) It’s ok to be disrespectful to people that are actively making our country a worse place to live to satisfy their personal feelings about what should or shouldn’t be going on in your bedroom. These people just ended benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples (including single parents!) in order to make something unconstitutional that is already illegal. That warrants derision, because it is nothing but stupid.

    I’m not saying that you can’t tell people that they have made a mistake respectfully, but, in my opinion, when people actively are harming other people’s interests in order make people who don’t believe in the same things they do follow their rules, I’m not going to tell those people being harmed not to push back.

    • We should push back, absolutely. But I think in order to be the change I want to see in the world, I have to love people who make me angry and who I think are destroying the country: after all, that is what they think of me.

      The discourse should remain open. Because people are being harmed. And they should feel angry for being harmed.

      I don’t think that saying North Carolina voters aren’t really human because of the way they voted is acceptable, though.

      Thanks for your input and for stopping by 🙂

    • I’ve been thinking more about your input. I think a serious weakness in what I wrote is not defining what I mean by respect and disrespect. Searching through reactions on twitter left me very upset to see many people using extreme profanity (directed at people, not simply as an expression of anger or frustration on the part of the speaker), stereotyping, attacks, calling people inhuman.

      I don’t mean to simply be nice like we were taught in preschool; this is not what I mean by respect. I think when engaging with people who disagree on important matters it is best to remember that their viewpoint is complicated, emotional, often times tied to their sense of religious duty: They can be respected by our remembering that this is complex for them, and not expect them to change their minds quickly, and by saving our profanity and unsavoriness for environments when our pain and frustration will be understood.

      We need to be strong, to stand up for what we believe. But ‘the other side’ believes that is what they are doing, so we need to do more.We need to avoid pettiness and smugness. (My stomach churns at the thought that wedding cake was served at the ‘victory parties’.) Is it possible? I don’t know. I think it’s worth striving for so that our actions back up our beliefs. We should not only tell the world why marriage equality is important, but show them as well.

      I still don’t know if I’m expressing myself well on the matter. But I’d like to hear your thoughts further. I’m glad you stopped by 🙂

  3. Pingback: Humans and Respect | AnnieKO'Connor

  4. an open mind is a great discovery… i wonder if the first people with open minds discovered freedom and tried to encourage others to experience how beautiful it is to be free.

    i like the things you think about…. try not to get angry, focus on ways to encourage others to experience… voting is a powerful way to change the world – it takes patience… especially when a majority does not believe in freedom, and don’t have a clue about the religions they so often claim to have… “cough” 🙂 … i wonder what they feel about love… if they felt love, why would they want to block others form enjoying love? strange…. but there will always be people like that…

    David in Maine USA

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