The United States of America launched by our forefathers has always been closer to what Bono once called “a great idea” than an actual land of greatness.
At our nation’s inception, endless possibilities existed for so many people but the vast majority of these beneficiaries were men of European descent. The “first wave” of any organized, concerted efforts to bring others into the folds of the “American Dream” came with the end of legalized slavery. That was significant but merely scratched the surface of unleashing African-American liberties and quality of life. Subsequent progress in this ongoing first wave came through abolishment of Jim Crow Laws, and legislation such as Brown vs. The Board of Education and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Today, the wave is rolling fairly strong in some parts of the ocean but still far from reaching the shores of Martin Luther King Jr’s dream. Take a look at laws that disproportionately imprison black Americans, protect the cops who shoot them, or impose heavy court costs upon them, and you can’t help but conclude that legalized slavery still exists but has merely changed shape.
The “second wave” involved women’s suffrage and other rights related to access to education and advancement in the workplace. I can only imagine the arguments and debates that permeated the American consciousness during the early decades of the 20th Century. So many women are now in positions of power and influence, and I celebrate that. But every time I hear about double-standards women face regarding wages, balancing parenting and careers, the length of their skirts, abortion rights, or their freedom to reveal emotions, I feel disgusted that men are still holding the reins in so many ways…and that some women are even permitting it to happen.
The “third” wave is the one we’re especially living right now, and it concerns equal rights and access for those who consider themselves lesbian, gay, trans-gender, bi-sexual, queer, or questioning. These are individuals who’ve been made to feel isolated and shamed for most of their lives, generation after generation. Laws have been passed in recent years to protect them, and our society as a whole has grown far more tolerant. And now, predictably, there’s a significant backlash happening in state houses across America. The backlash’s primary basis? Fear.
None of these three waves are complete, obviously. People are fearful and so they react instead of stepping back, reflecting, and daring to ask themselves and others the most important questions. Donald Trump’s successful candidacy is geared around eliciting the worst of human nature. So many are choosing not to understand, and not to learn. And so many of these people are otherwise intelligent and decent, which makes it even sadder. And don’t get me started on how another group of people–immigrants from primarily Muslim countries–are being targeted by certain politicians across our country. (Imagine if you faced violent death every single day and were displaced from your homeland, and no other country wanted you. But thank goodness, you were born in America and not in Syria or some other place where people aren’t as valuable.)
I’ll be very clear about where I stand, for anyone who cares to know and is still reading this blog. I am for equal rights and protection for every human being in this world, period. I don’t care how they describe their ethnicity, gender, religion, or political views, as long as they are not intentionally harming others. I want the government to leave them the hell alone: any government, any place.
As I writer, I’ll fight for them until my dying breath. I’ll use the power of words to aid the less powerful, and do what I can in my local communities to exert tangible influence.
If you’re against these types of equal rights in any fashion, I have sympathy for you but not much empathy. I’ll try to help if you reach out to me and want to learn. If you truly want to change, you’ve got me as a friend or colleague. I’ll point you toward books that will expand your thinking, and encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and build relationships with people you’re keeping at a polite distance.
But if you’re completely closed-minded, I wish you well…and invite you to please go away. I don’t hate you or even dislike you, but I just don’t have time to trifle with you. There’s too many suffering people who need me more, and I need them also because I learn so much from them.