Thursday, December 31, 2009

Upon The Passing Of The Hour

Tonight, as the clock strikes midnight in every time zone across the face of the Earth, a similar ritual will take place, as humanity celebrates the turning of the last page on the calendar, marking one more rotation of the Earth around the Sun. Another year passes, and takes with it our memories, our hopes, our fears, and all that was. It is as if we mentally wipe a slate clean, and convince ourselves that all that came before may be dispensed with, that a new year marks new things.

It is hubris to believe that you can simply dispose of the past. Each human being carries their past with them in their brain as patterns of neurons, that have recorded everything that person has experienced, storing the knowledge away for future use. Each of us also carries the legacy of humanity in our DNA, transporting through millions of years the actuality and the potential that is Homo sapiens.

So if we wipe the slate clean, it is only the surface that is cleansed, for all that lies beneath comes with us. As it should be.

It is not enough that we resolve to change who and what we are at the turning of the hour; we must make the effort to make actual change, in ourselves, and the world we see around us. For each orbit of the Earth has seen the same human frailties and failings carried on, has seen death, destruction, and disease travel forward along with hope, courage, and scientific advancement. What does not seem to change with the millennia is human behavior. Humanity still grasps at wealth, power, glory, and territory, even as it leaves many of its members to struggle and suffer in mediocrity, poverty, and want.

The future is unwritten -- it is we, as a species, that will write what is to come. If we are to resolve anything this evening, let it be that we will no longer tolerate the inequities of the past, that we will forge new relationships, and find solutions to common problems. Let us resolve to turn a corner, to bring humanity fully into its Third Millennium, with the goal of laying aside the past, and creating a newer, brighter future. It is time that we take the lessons of the past, and apply them to the progress we make. It is time, to learn from our mistakes and work not to repeat them.

And so, I wish you peace, long life, and ask you, in the coming year, to reevaluate you life and your goals, and to be mindful of the direction of humanity. Together, we can accomplish anything.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Brave New Humanity

I was given pause to consider what has changed in the way humanity views the world, between the Middle Ages and now. You can consider that on the grand scale, the world is significantly altered, such that a denizen of the Middle Ages would find it inconceivable, though not totally incomprehensible, that we reached every corner of the Earth and have sent men and machines to the far-flung environs of space.

So, we have progressed, in technology, in population, in resources, in capacity and capability. Perhaps the one area where it can honestly be said that little progress has been made is in thought and rationale. A person of the Middle Ages would be filled with wide-eyed wonder at our accomplishments, but would feel right at home with many expressed attitudes, though our behavior overall would be quite different. While there is sexual freedom, more racial equality, and a greater ability for the commoner to enter the free market, the taboos of centuries past still linger, and we cannot seem to free ourselves of them completely.

For it is clear, that a great proportion of humanity still clings to the dogmas of the past. We are surrounded by the blare of information and the bright lights of technology, and we see all these things, which were no doubt anathema as little as five centuries ago, brought forth into the light of day. Learning and knowledge have repainted our picture of the universe we inhabit, moving us from its center, off to a corner of but one galaxy in a multitude. Science has granted us kinship to our animal brethren, made us important players in the functioning of the Earth as a system, and shown that despite all outward differences, we are one species. We have been given new life, and the possibility of expanding ourselves beyond our cradle, into the galactic milieu.

As such, you would think that all this has transformed us as thinking beings, but, in fact, the pace of external transformation is not matched by our internal transformation. While water may flow, rock may crumble, and even iron yield to flame, human belief is resistant to change to a degree unmatched in the natural world. The eternal struggle between the enrichment of knowledge and the inner turmoil brought about by change is ongoing, fueled by emotion. Those unafraid of knowledge and change embrace differences; those fearful of further erosion of their model of the world cling to personal beliefs, as the stranded sailor to a life raft. Those who live on the edge, charge forward; those who live amidst the quiet, stay back.

So, as humanity moves forward, it drags along the dead weight of the past, an inertia that retards progress and restricts freedom. The ghostly past Marley comes to our modern Scrooge, and warns us that the fetters he wears due to his previous ignorance and self-absorption are also secured to us, though we do not see them, and that we forge new links each and every day. We are in danger of being denied our heavenly rest, because we could not open our eyes to the world around us, and see it for what it is. We deny the evidence of our eyes and ears and hearts, in the constant grasping and shuffling toward grabbing a piece of the world for ourselves, something which, ultimately, death will take from us.

It cannot be that we simply wipe the slates clean, for indoctrination in the new is precisely the same as indoctrination in the old; as the songs says: "Meet the new boss... same as the old boss." We cannot mandate thought or belief -- it is impossible to counteract a definitely opposed will, and our own strictures forbid it. For an American, freedom is just that: freedom to believe what you want to believe, even if the prevailing wisdom is that your belief is based on premises that no longer hold. Each entitled to his or her opinion, no matter what it may be.

Yet, even as that great ideal is important, if we are to be a truly free and peaceful people, there is an overarching principle that must be factored in: we are all in this together. No matter our differences, no matter what we believe, no matter what ideas our principles are based on, our individuality is assured only as long as our humanity is reinforced. No distances, no resources, no beliefs, no conflicts, no perceptions, alter the fact that humanity lives as one on this Earth, and it is, for now, our only home. We may have our differences, but we are all in the same boat.

So, at some point, those who may believe a certain thing and believe it so fervently that to go against it is considered heresy, must learn to yield to greater considerations. This is by no means easy, nor assured, for fanaticism in belief is seldom counteracted by any degree of reason. Still, the general welfare of all, the greater good, will and must take precedence. This does not mean the denigration or destruction of individual belief, as much as it means any group's beliefs cannot be allowed to override what is in the best interests of all, especially those who do not believe as they do. It should be possible to live as individuals amongst a greater group: the human race.

We can hope that movement toward a united and peaceful humanity continues, and that the chains that tie us to a moribund past are broken. As in every century, though, there are those who will resist the change, to their detriment. Those who chose not to ride the tide of progress, are left to founder in its wake. We note their passing with sadness, for it did not have to be so, but humanity's destiny cannot be denied forever. We strive to build, to grow, to learn, to understand, and thus, survive. The human story is still preamble; eventually, it will be written across the stars.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

We Get It

Yeah, we get it.

You hate homosexuals.

Yes… you. The narrow-minded, Bible-verse-flinging, ignorant, spiteful, fear-mongering segment of the population that views the idea of people loving people of the same sex so abhorrent, that if you could get away with it, you’d no doubt tie them to stakes and set them ablaze.

You, who are so uncomfortable with the idea of people being different, that you would do anything in your power to deny them the peace of mind and solace you believe is rightfully yours, and yours alone. You, the ultra-conservative, who cannot grasp that the planet has turned a corner into a new millennium, and that the old ways can no longer support human society. We need new ways of thinking, new ideas, not the old, moldy words of people drenched in fear for their life and fear of those who were not of their tribe.

You will not grow. You will not change. You will not open your heart or your mind to possibilities. You live in the staid, sedentary, somnolent backwater of modern society, afraid that “they” will ruin your way of life, take away your freedom, and somehow desecrate all you hold dear.

I have news for you: you have done far more to desecrate your way of life than anyone. You wield your beliefs as a sword, hacking away at anything than offends your “morality.” You claim some type of divine superiority through your faith, a faith based on hypocrisy and ignorance of the words of your own savior. Anything you do not understand or subscribe to is an “abomination,” to be given as little regard as the dust.

You will stand there, in your apocalyptically-driven glory, and claim that you have “nothing against gays,” even as you seek to fund those who would keep them down, keep them in line, and defend your way-of-life by equating them with all the ills of the world.

You hate them.

Not hate in the manner of holocaust, but a low-grade, simmering hate, never spoken, never voiced, never revealed overtly, but clearly written in action and deed. You paper the hate over with a veneer of morality and community service, but this cannot keep your true feelings from leaking out beneath the facade. You will stand and deny human beings rights, because it offends you to think that they could be happy, too. You spout rhetoric about “family values,” even as you cheat on spouses. You would “defend” marriage, even as you trample upon it with your mistresses. You would claim that marriage is a solemn connection between a man and a woman, when it is more the connection between a man and a slave.

So yes, once more you have managed to deny gays the right to marry. New York, New Jersey, Maine, California… you may sit there, smug and self-righteous, proud of yourselves, but know this: your day is coming. Those of us who value freedom, individuality, and prefer tolerance to ignorance will gather our force of will, and we will drive back the demons. We will supplant you. We will cast the pure light of humanity on your piteous and baleful forms, and drive you back under the rocks from whence you crawled.

There will be liberty and justice, for all.


NOTE: After writing this, I came to find this wonderful video of NY Senator Diane Savino addressing the State Senate before voting on the gay marriage act that was defeated by a 38-22 vote. It says with poignancy and dignity, what I wrote with righteous anger and frustration.