[by David Van Thournout]
Now that we’ve improved the civil rights of those serving their country in the most dangerous capacity, as soldiers defending our constitution, don’t you think it’s time we extended this acceptance of who we are to the cvilian population?
If you are gay and an employee of a conservative company, coming out can be dangerous to your career. Or your life even. This I believe is effectively a form of don’t ask don’t tell in action.
If you are among the more than 40% of Americans that have used cannabis at least once, you probably live in a don’t ask, don’t tell situation as well.
If you’re an atheist and you say proudly, I’m an atheist, you can rest assured you will not win any elections from then on.
You can be a liberal and since we don’t generally wear our religion on our sleeves we might be safely ensconced within the confines of a work environment populated mostly by conservatives and if you start wearing your progressive spirituality on your sleeve like the others, you’ll find out pretty quickly that you shouldn’t talk about religion or politics at work (or anyplace else for that matter). But only because you’re a liberal.
So it appears the military is a comparative liberal paradise when held against the backdrop of the rest of the fairly conservative whole of American culture. If you ask me, the military is way ahead of the rest of us on social issues.
Every single issue I just listed are civil rights issues. Gays, weed heads, atheists, progressive Christians, etc., all are wrongly and manipulatively marginalized. Marginalized within our communities, our churches, our schools, and even our families. Marginalized by a vocal minority who have nothing to offer the conversation but fear. Fear of the other.
It often leaves a gay person today in a situation where they feel completely alone and unable to find anyone to reach out to. They suffer disenfranchisement and depression. They sometimes in despair even take their own lives.
Weed head parents sometimes are charged with child endangerment when they get caught growing a few plants. That seems more than a little extreme to me.
Think of what the parents must feel that find out their son or daughter is gay when they receive a telephone call from the police informing them that their child has killed themselves because of bullying in school.
I’m not normally taken by nationalistic tendencies and I do say that I love my country. I love America not because I think it’s better than other places because it isn’t. America to me means diversity. Diversity of people means we will never want for interesting conversation, food, and there is always a celebration going on. Our collective knowledge of solutions from so many cultures coming together and working toward the common good of everyone is something to be proud of. That’s what I think of when I think of America. And this vision of ours is alive and well.
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VanThournout lives on the Mississippi river in Rock Island. He plays
guitar, writes poetry and music, designs websites, and organizes for a
more just and peaceful world. More than a decade ago David began
demanding meaningful employment rather than mindless work making
widgets. David now requires that he loves what he does and that it
actually makes the world a better place in a way that is sustainable. E-mail David. Follow David on twitter at twitter.com/badweatherrr