Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Culture of Hate

It's been said many times that this "war" that's going on for equality, to end hate and intolerance, is nothing new.  We know from history that this is true.  History has provided us with instance after bloody instance of how hate permeates our culture.

As a reminder of some of the examples of extreme hatred and intolerance in recent history, it wasn't really that long ago that a man named Hitler set out to exterminate anybody who wasn't like himself.  It wasn't that long ago when blacks had to ride on the back of the bus, were lynched just for being black, or couldn't even vote.  I remember those days, actually.
I remember, as a very young boy, maybe 6, living in a small, backwards Virginia city called Portsmouth.  This was back in the early 60s, so racism was rampant there.  I was riding my bike farther away from home than I was allowed to, but I was a 6 year old boy.  Since when do THEY listen!?  As I went to ride across an intersection, this royal blue '64 Ford Galaxie with a white top attempted to make a left turn.  We both screeched to a halt in the middle of the intersection.  The driver was a middle-aged white man with dark sunglasses.  We sat there in the middle of the intersection for what seemed like an hour, to a 6 year old boy, just staring at each other.  I was staring because I was 6 and didn't know any better.  In addition, he was staring at me, so I figured it was what I was supposed to do in return.  However, thank God I was born with good intuition because, even at that early age, my young gut told me that this guy was dangerous.  Eventually, he peeled off past me and on down the street and I continued on along my way.  I saw him hang a hard right at the next intersection, and my gut told me that was not a good thing.  Sure enough, as I neared the approaching corner, which had a gas station on it, there was that very same 64 royal blue Ford Galaxie 500 with the white top.  My heart raced.  Thank God for my young intuition!  As I approached the car for a second time, the man with the menacing stare from moments ago lept from his car and lunged towards my 6 year old back with what had to be a 12" dagger.  Already sensing that he was going to try and harm me, I was able to speed past him just ahead of the blade meant to tear into my back.  This man was willing to kill a 6 year old boy for no other reason than the fact that he was black!
Of course, there's a much longer list of instances of pure hatred and narrow-minded, fear-induced intolerance.

Today, we're in the midst of yet another struggle of right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, love vs. hate.  The LGBT community's battle for equality and acceptance is, for sure, today's Civil Rights Movement.  And, just as the case with that small 6 year old black kid in southern, racist Portsmouth, VA, there are people one "the other side" of the battle who have so much hatred and intolerance in them, they would use extreme measures rather than see us achieve simple equality.  One only has to look at the level of violence against members of the LGBT community to get a sobering snapshot of just how intense this battle truly is.  Watching from the sidelines are tomorrow's LGBT community:  the LGBT teens.  Watching with the hope that we'll win this war so that they will be able to simply live their lives happily, safely, and with the one they fall in love with.  We can't let them down.

A regular reader contact me recently.  Inspired by the recent blog post about Daniel Zamudio, and himself a writer, he sent me a poem that needs to be shared.  It fits seamlessly with the emotion of the day and with the theme of this post:
If history had gone another way
Non-whites would be second class citizens
If history went another way
Jews would  still be in death camps
If history went another way
Gays would have been shot on sight
If history went another way
Hate and fear would control the hearts of leaders
So tell me now!
Tell me if you condone of such hate
Tell me now!
If you wish this upon others
Tell me now!
So I can sleep at last
Or lie in my bed  waiting for the nightmare of hate to become reality once more
If you so wish to kill or harm such a person 
For little more for their religion
Their race
Their love
So that I can have a clear path ahead of me
Tell me now
So that when the time comes
I know where to stand
Tell me now.
Because as I witness hate I shall not stand idle no more.                           Written by Devin Callan
We cannot afford to stand idle.  Not now.  No more.  Each voice needs to be heard.  Our message needs to be clear.  Hitler was defeated.  The Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s was won by the black community.  Today's Civil Rights Movement focuses on the LGBT community.  It's a battle that can, and must, be won.