If I were a better or possibly just more diligent writer, I could probably work the swirling mélange of ideas in my head and form them into a cohesive, cogent blog entry. At this point the best I can do is try to describe some events and ideas that I have been confronted with in the last couple of days and try to connect the dots as they seem to be slowly forming in my mind. Here goes…
-Just the other day, I posted a video link on facebook of an impressive young man sharing his story in defense of gay couples raising children and being families. If I didn’t actually share it in the past, I know that I’ve seen it. The video itself support my own convictions of the travesty of political/religious groups attempting to ban homosexual couples from foster and adoptive parent eligibility.
-I thought my point was obviously specific to that issue, but I received more than a couple of pieces of feedback questioning my personal beliefs about gay marriage and even homosexuality. This led me to clarify my point of sharing the video. I felt like what conversation and discussion that resulted on facebook seemed positive even if brief.
-For the last few weeks, my 7th grade AR History students have been learning about the Civil War, Reconstruction and we’re getting ready to explore the Civil Rights movement, (specifically the Littler Rock 9). In discussing the history of our country and how blacks were enslaved before the Civil War and how they were treated as freedmen after the Civil War, my students are often appalled and amazed at one group of people could possibly mistreat another group of people this way. They will often hear about some injustice and will flat out ask me, “How did people do this? How could they think this was ok? How could they not understand this is simple wrong? Even evil?”
I try to tell them, it was a very different time and all people lived in a very different world where they were told and learned very differently. 7th graders have a hard time understanding that, and honestly it’s difficult for me to understand, too. I anticipate even more frustration and disbelief when we start examining segregation and society as it was leading up to the Civil Rights movement of the ‘50s-‘60s.
-I was born after the ‘60s in a community with very few black families; in fact I think there might have been 2 black girls (sisters) in my high school in the whole school system (k-12) that I remember. Roxanne was two years ahead of me in school and lived near my girlfriend, so we hung out and I’d say we were friends. Honestly, I have no idea how her life was different or harder than mine other than when I found out that she only washed her hair once a week. It was difficult for me understand that was an important regimen to keep her hair, which was different than mine, healthy. All of this to say, that while I was growing up, I really had no experience in navigating racial issues because I simply did not have any experience. Roxy was my friend, but no event ever happened in my where I was forced to deal with any racial issues.
-Tonight, Holly and I went to see The Help which fed more contemplation of segregation and inequality issues. I enjoyed the movie. It dealt with a lot of very difficult collective memory of our society with a lot of humor. But it was still difficult to confront. I found myself feeling much same way and questioning like my 7th grade students: How could people be this way? How can they not see how awful, ugly they are being to another human being? How can that woman, even stating that her actions are by virtue of her being a “Christian woman”, be such a complete, evil, hateful bitch? And this movie was set just about 50 years ago? In some ways, I’m so happy that we’ve come so far that even my 7th graders are aghast at the very idea that this was our American society a very short time ago.
Finally, I couldn’t help but start thinking about gay rights, gay marriage, etc. and how history will view our society 20, 30, 40+ years from now.
Will there be books and movies about churches and religious/political activist groups pushing to hinder rights and freedoms another certain people group in the 2000-2010’s? No what your position of how or why there are homosexual people, the reality is that there ARE homosexual people and the most important part is that no matter how you think or feel about that, they are people.
Will my daughters field questions from their sons and daughters asking how it could be like that?
How could the church could be so self-righteous in its certitude and so hateful and cruel that they were actually leaders in hurting people and denying rights to another people group that we all hold dear?
Will my daughters have to grimace and try to explain how it was a different time and society was different all the while still not really being able to wrap their own minds and emotions around this historical reality?
I hope so.