Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's Not Political, It's Personal

Relocating from Indianapolis to Kalamazoo left me without a television for seven days. I didn’t find it catastrophic, but I did miss my daily morning news fix. Now that I’m more informed in the mornings I wonder if I wasn’t saved some heartache last week. After tuning back in I’ve found that the political spin taking place on social issues has made me question the soul of this country.

There are several public debates taking place about extremely private issues. Laws are being considered that will impact personal freedoms. These freedoms are being questioned based on religious beliefs and morality. I have purposefully refrained from publicly expressing my stance on these volatile issues, but I believe that we all have the right to mandate our behavior based on religious beliefs. Yet when government makes following a religious belief a matter of law it is no longer personal and belief no longer dictates behavior. The avoidance of breaking federal law dictates behavior, not the desire to be moral. More importantly, though, our choice to conduct ourselves under the direction of religious doctrine does not include forcing that same doctrine on others. Where is the choice and love in that?

It grieves me to think that those proposing such monumental changes will never be directly impacted by them. They will never be denied equal rights and benefits because of who they love. They will never have to testify in front of a room full of people about the worst moment of their lives. They will never have to live in the jarring reality of life after a rape resulting in pregnancy. How is it then that they have the right to make that decision for those who will? 

No matter what I elect to dictate my choices, I cannot justify mandating my behavior, lifestyle, and actions on anyone else, let alone the rest of the country. I am deeply saddened to see such emotional issues driving so many apart instead of binding us together. We’ve stepped back in time to incorporate different forms of ‘acceptable’ discrimination and tell an entire gender that they can’t, aren’t smart enough, or can’t be trusted enough to make their own decisions. I thought history taught us better and hoped we simply knew better.

Voting on these issues will impact an election, but they’ll impact the lives of our friends, neighbors, coworkers, siblings, daughters, sons, and grandchildren more. The outcome will mark a significant change in our country’s history, but will also determine the direction of our future. These debates will have political implications, but the personal ones are far greater. I am so grieved because I don’t have to quote some convincing statistic or read a catchy headline to place a face with a story. I already lived the story with people I love. I know those who do not have equal rights, who have been rapedand can adequately define it without the help of someone who hasn’t—and who have raised children resulting from rape. When I think of the choices that have or could have been stripped from them, in addition to the choices they’ve already lost, it hurts my heart. These potential policy changes aren’t political, they are personal. Extremely personal. For all of those I love and admire I am going to vote, but I may have to turn off the news until November if I am to hold on to the hope that we will grow into ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’.

This isn’t intended to be a political post, just one that will encourage thoughtful reflection. One that will lead us to ask some fundamental questions about intention and truth. One that will help us to understand that hurting individuals hurts us collectively.