We Are The Change We Seek
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This isn't where I thought I was going to be when I looked forward into my life, but here I am....

Yes We Can

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Rick Warren and Barack Obama

The news and blogs are all ranting about Rick Warren and Barack Obama (here, here, here for a short list). A lot of people are sincerely pissed off that Obama is having Rick Warren give a prayer at the inauguration because Warren was a big proponent of Prop 8 in CA and is widely known as anti-gay-rights.

First, let me say that I think Rick Warren is a hateful douche. I would sooner kick him in the nuts than see him speaking at the inauguration. I despise anyone who opposes equal rights and this guy is currently a big religious player who used his power to get people to the polls and ban gay marriage. He may also do good volunteer work in the community to help people, but I am sickened by his close-minded belief that two people who love each other are an abomination to God.

With that said, I'm not angry at Barack Obama for making him part of the inauguration. Obama is doing exactly what he told us he would do, but everyone is freaking out because they like to hear the phrase "reaching across the aisle" or "bi-partisanship" but they don't actually want it. They say they want someone who can bridge gaps, build consensus, heal our wounds.... but apparently they can't handle it when Obama actually tries to do that.

He's been very consistent on this point, in my opinion. We have an enemy in Iran, they are becoming increasingly dangerous. He has stated that engagement is the best way to resolve differences. If you isolate your enemy, you cannot make any progress. When he told us that he wanted to engage with Iran and bring them to the table we said, "Yes We Can!" If we're willing to apply that logic to a foreign country, why can't we apply that same logic to our own problems? Don't get me wrong, I was pissed at first because those very same feelings of liking and hating bipartisanship exist in me too... but I quickly realized it wasn't right.

I was raised in an isolationist environment. Jehovah's Witnesses discourage any interaction with non-Witnesses. They want you to stay within your homogeneous circle so that other ideas don't pollute the mind pool. I was raised to be anti-gay, I was raised to be racist, I was raised to be intolerant of all others.... some sunk in, some did not. Jehovah's Witnesses, when I was growing up, were staunchly against attending College and I understand why. College is a big mixture of "other." I started attending College as a close-minded homophobe, but the people I met there started peeling back the layers of stupid in which I had been cocooned. My best friend for awhile, Liam, was a great guy. Nicest guy you'd ever meet: friendly, funny, smart, empathetic, etc. We were up late one night coding some homework for our CS class and conversation turned toward the religious and Liam asked me. "Do you think I'm a heathen? Do you think I'm going to hell?" It caught me off guard. According to my instilled beliefs.... yes. Yes, I believed he was going to hell. However, another part of my brain knew that was wrong. Why would he go to hell? He was such a good guy. That was a turning point that started me away from religion.

It wasn't just Liam though. It was also the fabulous (read: FAAAAB-U-LOUS) Michael Angelo. He liked to be called by his full name at all times because he wasn't Michael... he was Michaelangelo! Super duper flamingly gay. I mean, I think my eyebrows were burnt off the first time I stood in the elevator next to him. Like, super mondo gay. But he was just a guy who happened to like guys. There wasn't anything wrong with him. I liked women, he liked men. No big deal.

The point of all of this rambling is that those experiences interacting with the "other" helped me progress out of my backward thinking state. I moved forward. If I had continued to live in my isolated environment where I never interacted with the "other" I never would have changed my way of thinking. This is the benefit of engagement. Yes, Warren and all of his anti-gay followers are backward-thinking, intolerant, a-holes... just like I was, until I interacted with people different from me on a regular basis.

Don't be pissed at Obama. He said he would be the President for all Americans, not just the ones who voted for him. He said the solution to disagreement is engagement. He said he would reach across the aisle and build consensus. He's working on fulfilling that promise for you.

It's bad tasting medicine, but it's medicine.

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