Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Political Post: Musing about Gay Marriage

So, I generally stay away from politics: I'm just not the well-informed nor rhetorically trained to be able to compete with the political savvy. I generally shy away from political debates and stick to social norm evaluation. However, as we are in the midst of the Supreme Court Decision on gay marriage through it's ruling on California's Prop 8, I've started thinking about this a lot.

To begin with: I haven't decided my opinion yet on gay marriage. I don't know exactly where I am swayed, because so far I've been able to appreciate the arguments on both sides. I would appreciate more knowledge or better reasons than I have for why we should go one way or the other (or if there are alternatives), but I would appreciate that no bickering or fighting occur. Please, I'm sick of it.

So, today, I started seeing these little goodies pop up on my Facebook friend's profile pictures:

In support of Equal Marriage for hetero- and homosexuals.

In support of keeping a 'traditional' view of marriage defined as between men and women:

Sidenote: If I chose my side based on ingenuity and humor of these little profile pictures, the following wins:

If you don't get it, I'm ashamed.

In any case, I was a little annoyed by people getting very angry and threatening as they were establishing their opinions on Facebook. I'm okay if you have opinions and I approve of you sharing those opinions (for the most part. Some opinions are wrong: like enjoying asparagus. No one likes asparagus. If you do, you are wrong). However, I genuinely do not think you should be attacking the other side and telling them that "God hates fags", "You are stupid", or other baseless arguments that not only are inappropriate, but vary in all sorts of logical fallacies.

Here are some of my thoughts and I would appreciate comments that would help my understanding grow:

* I grew up in a religious household with a relatively strong religious peer group. All my life I had believed that gay marriage was wrong and to some extent morally destructive. I'm not saying that my religion, family, or peers had anything to do with this belief, but I remember having it and arguing it to friends (before I was aware of my gross inabilities to argue and my obvious ignorance). Until I was in high school: gay marriage = bad things.

* When I started my studies in sociology and other social sciences, I first changed my beliefs completely and regarded myself as a strict gay marriage advocate. Who am I to regulate the choices of others and how they are going to live? Isn't that restricting their ability to choose as well? 

* Then I read C.S. Lewis' book: Mere Christianity. I understood some more about those who are staking a moral claim in the debate. If you view homosexual behavior as immoral (note I said behavior and not homosexuality), then it makes sense about why you would argue against it. In Mere Christianity, Lewis makes the claim that we cannot allow people to do what they want on the argument that "it doesn't harm other people" because in the end, an immoral person will eventually disrupt society in some way. Ask me for the specific analogy, because I thought it was ingenious. 

* Politically speaking, this becomes more complicated. Should religious values play a part in politics? Is it possible to separate religion from politics? Should we? If we do separate it, I remember saying once that I was in favor of civil unions: same benefits, but at least we appease those religions who want to keep the definition of "marriage" as between a man and woman. However, a friend brought up the dilemma: is that just returning to "separate, but equal"? 

* My roommate brought up a point that was opposite of gay marriage in general: Should the courts have the right to repeal a decision that was made by the people? If California's state population decided to prohibit gay marriage, why is the Supreme Court have the right to challenge that. THE PEOPLE DECIDED. Shouldn't we allow the people to repeal it? Not a group of non-elected judges?

* In the research that I've done, it seems that the norm-less and moral-less perceptions that have been placed on homosexuals can be explained to some extent to the fact that they have no other option. Why try to have a relationship that is 'healthy' (determined by one's faithfulness to one specific other) when the relationship is not going to be approved politically or socially anyway. Why work towards an un-achievable goal. I would hypothesize, perhaps prematurely, that the establishment of gay marriage would allow for the solidification of more stable dating norms and relationship opportunities for gay people. And that this would tone down the promiscuity that others claim is rampant in gay society.

I think I'm leaning more towards allowing gay marriage because it seems, according to research on homosexual families and countries who have allowed gay marriage, there aren't significant social effects. Gay parents are not more likely to raise gay children. However, I'm not sure. I would appreciate enlightenment on either side. I wish we would talk about it more (civilly) in the open. 

My hope for now is that the Lord (whom I do believe exists) would guide the people of the Supreme Court to make an appropriate decision that would benefit mankind. I will not pretend to say that I know the Lord's opinion on the matter, nor that the Court will give a ruling in accordance with His will (although, I would hope so). I think that we can all pray that they make an informed and beneficial decision according to His divine plan (or, if we do not believe in a Supreme Being, that we hope for the best).

To America 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Not another one of those happiness posts...

It could have started from the ridiculous upsets in March Madness. (But seriously...who the heck is LaSalle anyways). It could have been that I just started a book called: Why We Hate Us. It could be that I started out this Friday night with nothing to do but play a couple rounds of N64 SuperSmash, read, and just lay around on my fat bum (figuratively speaking, because my bum is anything but fat).

However, I started thinking: why is there so much focus on the negativity of the world. Is it that prevalent? You look at the news and the political websites/social media pages and it is teeming with angry posts about how much the other side is doing. I have friends who still post thousands of anti-liberal/anti-Obama propaganda every single day.  Now, I don't mind knowing your opinions. I don't even mind you voicing what you think needs to change. However, when you constantly post negative and generally falsified information over and over...

I've read that the content of your daydreams or your mind-wanderings is actually quite telling of your person. So, I started paying attention to my own daydreams, if you can call it that. What I found was that I generally look back in time during my life to a choice I've made and wonder how life could have been if I had changed. I don't really do it as a I-wish-life-is-other-than-it-is, but more of a curiosity.

Let's do that right now. What if: news stations first aired stories about awesome people. I just looked up some stories: a mother of a child who attempted suicide because of bullying put on Facebook what her son was going through. He then received 7,000 letters and 10,000 Facebook messages of encouragement. That's awesome people. I love this. There was also a 50 year old man in Los Angeles who gave up his home to a homeless family and moved back in with his parents. He gave them free rent/utilities for a year. That's pretty epic. Why do I have to search for these stories?

What if: political campaigns were think-tanks on what we could do to make this country better? What if political and scientific surveys/studies were actually unbiased and not trying to promote a liberal or conservative agenda? What if people could actually choose a candidate who was not bashing on their opponent the whole time?

What is ironic about this campaign is that I'm complaining about our society's norm of negativity. Well, looks like I fit in well. However, I want to highlight a couple of events in my life that I feel deserve some recognition:

I have a roommate who's friend is struggling with her belief in God and he is sincerely interested in helping her understand His love. Then he told me that he has looked up articles on how to friend people have left the faith so that if she does choose that path, she'll at least have one friend who is on her side.

I've met a lot of people attracted to the same-sex who, instead of growing bitter and angry at social stigmas and confusing religious teachings, have instead made it a point to love their life and enjoy what blessings they have been given.

I see my friends struggle over huge life-choices and meager issues like dating woes and the rest of the group is always there to support, offer counsel, and be there for them. The day-to-day interactions keep us sane, protected, and comforted. While I'm in this group, I've never felt like an outcast or that I've never had someone who would be willing to listen to any of my problems.

I saw a student in the BYU parking lot give up the chance for a parking spot to another driver (and that is a BIG deal). I don't know why he did it, but I bet it made a big difference for the other driver's day.

In the sociology lab where I work, if you had a question on any data set or theoretical issue, the whole group is willing to pitch in to help answer your question. You could ask any person in that office and they will drop almost any assignment or work to help you out. That's pretty awesome and deserves attention.

Sure, none of these things will ever make the nightly news, but I think the day-to-day little acts of kindness are what could propel this nation into greatness. I think the more that we emphasize and bring them to light, the more that people will think about them and act on the little promptings to do the same. To quote a famous oldie song:

"You've got to accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative. Latch on to the affirmative. But don't mess with Mr. Inbetween."