Monday, October 27, 2008

Conversation with a Teenager

A conversation with my 14 year old nephew yesterday sparked some inspiration within me.

We were driving in my car on the way back from the store and he asked me why Proposition 8 was a big deal. My reply: It's not just about gay marriage, it's about the idea that people want to write discrimination into the state constitution. He asked me, "is that even possible?"

I said, "unfortunately, it is." His reply: "that doesn't seem fair"

I'm a little taken back by the fact that my 14 year old nephew gets it but that there are hundreds of thousands in California who don't. They are afraid that this issue will affect our children...well guess what, it has. Now, I have to sit down and explain to my nephew why the religious people of California want to write discrimination into our Constitution. I have to make him understand that there are people who feel they need to "minister" to us about love while they go behind our backs and preach hate. The problem is, I don't know how to do that!

"But wasn't this country founded on religion?" he asks me. I tell him, "the way people act nowadays you would think it was, but it wasn't. Our forefathers came to this country because they didn't feel it was right for a country to force religion on their people, so they came here to North America to make a better life."

"So, then why do they force it upon us now?" he asked innocently.

"That's why this proposition is so controversial." I exclaimed. "People have forgotten what this country was founded on."

I know people say that they fear what will happen to this country if gays marry. That's the least of my worries. My biggest fear is: how can we raise our children in a society that promotes fear and discrimination? This is seriously gone from a concern of gay marriage to an act of civil rights. And I seriously thought in the year 2008 we were farther along and better than that as a country. But I had to explain to my nephew, on the way back from the store, that I was wrong.

I helped raise my two eldest nephews. The only lessons I wanted them to learn was that life is too short for hate and that you should never give up on your dreams. I fear that on the morning of November 5, 2008 the oldest will wake up to a world of second class citizens and will turn to me again and ask why. He learned in school the hardships that the African American community had to endure in the 60s when they fought for THEIR freedom. He was even taught how wrong it was that they were treated differently.

I love my nephews...they are like sons to me. I want to create a world that they can be proud to live in. I just have to pray that the rest of the people around us have the courage to do the right thing.


Digital Devil said...

My biggest fear is: how can we raise our children in a society that promotes fear and discrimination?

To be honest, we've been doing that since the country was founded. I recall being in high school in an affluent suburb and still was discriminated against by my peers and teachers alike.

I think it's funny that now that it's a problem that's beginning to target white men, a group that is generally the recipient of the most privilege in our society, it's a big deal. Not to say that civil rights in the 60s wasn't a big deal for this group either, but the issue is now seemingly taking on a new life that wasn't there when civil rights for people of color and women were being fought.

marco said...

Really deep michael, I understand your frustration try explaining prop 8 and the ignorance of it to a group of old religious women.

a. fortis said...

My husband always points out how ridiculous it is that anybody would use the constitution to take away rights rather than preserve them, and I completely agree! This goes beyond the issue of whether one believes in the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry.

In many states, as recently as the late 1960s, my parents--and my husband's parents--wouldn't have been allowed to marry because of unfair laws that have since been repealed! I think of that when I think of this issue.

However, today I was really pleased to see a commercial featuring the State Superintendent of Education urging people to vote no.

KevinHunter said...

I love what you wrote about this, very true and eloquent. Most young people don't care about it, it's the right wing religious groups that do. My 13 year old sister says it's too bad Hillary Clinton didn't win, cause if she did we would've got 2 for the price of 1 (meaning her husband) Young people are smarter than we think, smarter than most.

Greg said...

"Or to put it in a way that might appeal to social conservatives: grant marriage equality and we can stop talking about homosexuality."

stanyan said...

It's funny that a kid understands basic human rights, but conservative people don't. Great post, Michael. I hope the majority chooses correctly.

gdemetru said...

I am so proud of you with your fight for "No on Prop 8". There is a common philosophy in the Harvest/ Born-again Christian church that states, "You are not a real Christian unless you have been born again in the light of the Lord." They quote the Bible like radical Islamic factions quote the Qu'ran. These are the same people that fire-bombed women's health clinics and killed (or attempted to kill) the doctors who work there years ago. That same demeaning philosophy that fueled the McCarthy-ism Red Scare, "Okies", the Salem Witch Trials, among many other discriminatory hate-mongering points in history. The Spanish Inquisition, Darfur, and the Holy Crusades come to mind as biggies. You have a bigger fight ahead. Don't give up. Every pearl comes from a grain of sand.