Sad is my heart for the blighted plants Its pleasures are aye as brief They bloom at the young years joyful call, And fade with the autumn leaf: Ah! may the red rose live alway, To smile upon earth and sky! Why should the beautiful ever weep? Why should the beautiful die?
- Stephen Foster
As this week's host of the Tar Heel Tavern, Ron Hudson called upon us to post about Belonging. Lost in the business of our everyday lives, it can often become too easy to overlook the fact that we're part of something greater than ourselves, and there's a responsibility that comes along with belonging. Outer distinctions between our "self" and others need to be transcended before we can be aware of how our actions can impact the greater cause we choose to serve. Change in our world can only be made through your hands. You have the ability to create, inspire and influence others.
Many of America's Founding Fathers were Deists. As part of their belief, they recognized patterns of the natural world that were reflected in human patterns of existence. There's a sense of belonging in every natural form, from molecules to trees to animals and to the planets that round the Sun in our Universe. We live our lives according to the same natural principles. When the bloom of the beautiful rose begins to wilt and fade and its life cycle comes to its natural and inevitable end, no longer having the strength to support itself, it bends earthward and gently returns to the very place that nourished it and created its beauty. We look to the same place to see the return of the rose's beauty when Spring begins because we belong to the same cycle of life. It is no accident that Christians, who believe in the resurrection of their savior, celebrate his glorious return and transcendence to his heavenly father in the sky when the Spring comes each year. The sky, ever unchanging, reflects an eternal awareness - even though our thoughts and moods are as changing as the clouds that roll by. Watch the clouds and you recognize the shapes as something that calls to mind a reflection of your own thoughts or memories. We, as a community of man, are both the clouds and the sky; just as we are the waves and also the ocean. And each of us, try as we may, will never escape the fact that we are like the rose, ever-bending earthward with age while being capable of spreading such beauty in the short time that we exist.
Our nation was created with a collective mindset. There were many different views, but each philosophy belonged. Divisions were there, but the Delaration of Independence was the healer that shed great light on each individual spirit while representing a collective agreement to be free from monarchy. The Constitution made a protective statement about belonging and an agreement on the rule of law in light of the individual rights spoken of in the Declaration. Because of the Founding documents, we belong to a nation that was created to legally respect the individuality of each human spirit.
It's time to remind everyone of that legal respect for the individuality of each human spirit. Last week, I saw a contradiction that was so alarming that my conscience guided me to spring to action. Many of our political leaders consciously decided to risk the integrity of our Constitution in order to blow out the candle and darken the spirit of belonging and to snuff out the civil rights of a an entire class of American citizens: gays and lesbians. It would be a violation of both the first and fourteenth amendment to impose the fundamentalist right's religious views a large portion of the rest of the population and thus deny them equal rights.
Though the Senate failed to pass a motion to close debate on the proposed Constitutional Amendment to prohibit gay marriage, it received a majority vote (it needed 60 votes to close the debate altogether). It will now be considered in the House. I hereby affirm unequivocally my support for gays and lesbians to have the same legal rights as heterosexuals. I believe that gay and lesbian families should be given full support, not only because of equal rights, but because their involvement in creating lasting bonds of love and caring strengthen the level of love and caring in our society and strengthen rather than weaken family life. This is a question for all of us: Do gay families belong to the greater community of Americans or not? - And it is abundantly clear that they do. This is an important question: Does each individual member belonging to the greater American community deserve equal treatment under the Constitution? - And we see that it is made clear by the Constitution and the freedom for which we stand, that each individual does.
The Network of Spiritual Progressives have made a statement with which I agree:
The emerging models of families in the homosexual world also contribute to a new understanding that families are no longer defined by the models of the 1950s, but today come in many different shapes and forms. The key to family is love, and that love is at least as abundant in gay and lesbian families as it is in heterosexual families. Similarly, when homophobia is removed from the picture, children of homosexual families flourish at least as well as children from heterosexual families.
Our common goal should be to flourish - each and every woman, child, and man. If you walk through the world fully aware of the nature that surrounds you, you will find that not only does it surround you, but that you are an undeniable part of it. We belong to the world, each and every person is connectedness in nature, and we are all part of the same nature. Our capacity to love did not spring from a Bible or a set of laws. Our capacity to love springs from our nature and it is only in recalling that we all belong to the same web of life and cycle of death as the rose that will increase our awareness of our need to keep the American founding alive, defending equality and justice for each and every person living in this country and living on the face of the earth.
We should vote out of office any people (regardless of political party) who are risking the integrity of our Constitution while trying to divert our attention from the real struggle against selfishness and materialism in our society to the phony and hateful struggle against gays and lesbians and the pandering to the fundamentalist right.
Say "No more!" Keep the beauty of freedom alive, or all of the beautiful who have strived for justice - every last rose - shall have lived in vain. Hate and bigotry does not BELONG in a society of people who cherish love.
*Dedicated to my mother Rose, who I lost last year and whose birthday is June 12th.