The intelligent and good man holds in his affections the good and true of every land – the boundaries of countries are not the limitations of his sympathies. Caring nothing for race, or color, he loves those who speak other languages and worship other gods. Between him and those who suffer, there is no impassable gulf. He salutes the world, and extends the hand of friendship to the human race. He does not bow before a provincial and patriotic god – one who protects his tribe or nation, and abhors the rest of mankind.
Robert Green Ingersoll
Gene Siskel once stumped Oprah Winfrey when he asked, “What is the one thing you know for sure?” The older I get, the more I think about that question and the implications that really knowing something for sure can have on life and happiness.
We have all been told that age begets wisdom, and I suppose that is true in a sense. We definitely have more life lessons to look back on and learn from, but I realize getting older doesn’t somehow mean that all of life’s answers will suddenly become accessible to us. I worry about that, and I hope I can get at least a few of the big questions taken care of before my time is up.
While I may never get answers to the universal questions that we all have (about life, God, our place in the cosmos), I do know a few things for sure right now.
I know that love is worth the pain.
Opening yourself up to another person is never easy, and anyone who does realizes that doing so will eventually hurt. You hurt each other sometimes, even when you don’t mean to. Under normal circumstances, one of you will die before the other. That is going to be incredibly painful. I still know it is worth it to have another human being who cares enough about you to accompany you on the journey.
Most of us don’t have a clue how blessed we are.
Everything is relative, as they say, and complaining comes naturally for most of us, but if we take the time to look around at those who are less fortunate or those who live in countries torn by war and famine, we will realize we have absolutely nothing to complain about.
All humans are created equal.
You may not look like me, you may not act like me, you may not believe like me, but you are every bit as worthy of life and liberty as I am. And I am just as worthy as you.
We can’t do everything, but we can do something.
Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” That is so true. We may not be able to change the whole world, but we are certainly able to make our immediate surroundings better. Whether through charity, hard work, or old-fashioned activism, there is something for each of us to do to make this world a better place.
Those are just a few of the things that I know for sure. Life, I hope, will teach me more.
An important milestone in the fight for marriage equality was achieved today when a federal appeals court in Manhattan declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional. The conservative judge who authored the ruling went one step farther by stating any law that discriminates against gays and lesbians should be viewed with skepticism.
This is a really big deal. Jacobs is not simply saying that DOMA imposes unique and unconstitutional burdens on gay couples, he is saying that any attempt by government to discriminate against gay people must have an “exceedingly persuasive” justification. This is the same very skeptical standard afforded to laws that discriminate against women. If Jacobs’ reasoning is adopted by the Supreme Court, it will be a sweeping victory for gay rights, likely causing state discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to be virtually eliminated. And the fact that this decision came from such a conservative judge makes it all the more likely that DOMA will ultimately be struck down by the Supreme Court.
There is great power in being true to yourself and honest to others about your sexual orientation. I know this from personal experience. Through coming out to various people in my life – from family to coworkers – I have been able to free myself from living a life full of dishonesty, and I have been able to change the preconceived notions of others about homosexuality.
We might be slightly different from our heterosexual counterparts in some ways, but most humans long for the same basic things: freedom, comfort, and understanding. These three things cannot exist independently of one another. In order to have freedom and comfort, we must open ourselves up to allow others to understand what we are going through.
Exercise your power. Come out to your family, friends, and coworkers. Help to make the world a better place for the young men and women who will still be struggling for equality in the coming years.
While watching reruns of Sex and the City last night, I happened to catch the new television spot for LetCaliforniaRing, a campaign to change hearts and minds about gay marriage. I was so moved by it that I recorded it to the DVR.