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Inclusiveness and Self-Centeredness.

16 June 2012

Gerty-Z over at Balanced Instability is hosting the Diversity in Science Carnival for Pride this year. I hadn’t heard of it before. It is apparently designed to highlight the achievements and improve the climate for non-heteronormative scientists. Which makes it a good thing, in my mind. I think of myself as an ally for gay rights. A proponent of gay marriage. This comes from a couple of places in me.

I went through a period in my life of being very religious, and I believed all the bullshit justifications that religious people use to try to tell themselves that they’re loving people who are simply defending moral rectitude instead of just being hateful bigots. But the truth is, no matter how nicely I tried to frame bigotry, it was still bigotry.

I am grateful to a couple of people specifically who never let me get away with that bullshit. My friend LawnBoy, and my sister Aimee, who nicely, or not nicely, debated me, cajoled me, pointed out the flaws in my ideas and logic, cared for me even when I was being a bigot (demonstrating a kind of tolerance and acceptance that I would still have to learn), and eventually persuaded me to understand some of the simplest ideas that had been so hard for me to get my head around.

Other people are also people.

If I believe that I have the only truth about anything – that my ideas are how everyone should live – I am negating the fundamental personhood of others. Objectifying and degrading them. No matter how nicely I try to do it. And there’s no competing motive, either. Marriage, freedom, is not a zero sum game. I am not less free because someone else has the same rights as I do! My right to marriage is not less valid because someone else has the right to participate in another union which is also a marriage. My liberty is unrestricted by extending it to all. In fact, it is deeply, and greatly, enhanced.

I learned to recognize just how self-centered I am. How easy it is for me to neglect my own privilege, my own advantages. I was given just about every advantage a person can have in life. As a boy, and a young man, I thought I needed to press my advantage, to exclude others from enjoying the privileges I had in order to hoard it. It’s fear. It’s selfishness. I needed to be taught better. Thankfully, I had good people in my life willing to teach. Thankfully, somewhere along the way, I developed into a person who can listen.

LawnBoy once was fond of telling me I was born on third base and thought I hit a triple. Probably not his original phrase, but absolutely correct in its description of me. I was born on third base. Now, it’s the name of my fantasy baseball team. To remind me, if nothing else. And there’s nothing wrong with having advantages, I can’t help them. What’s wrong is kneecapping people who would like to have those same advantages for themselves and their children.

Other people are also people.  I’m a better person when I remember that. It reflects badly on me that it took me so long to learn it. It reflects well on those who so patiently (and impatiently) taught me how wrong I was. I try to stay out of matters of politics, for the most part, except with family and close friends. I don’t like to argue on the internet. And I put my foot in my mouth a decent bit when I do participate. And then I need to stop and step back and apologize. But I will speak on these matters.

I’ll speak because I’m ashamed of my former positions. I’ll speak because I like to correct my errors. It keeps me sober. Keeps me sane. I’ll speak because the world I want to live in has freedom for everyone. I’ll speak because I think families are good things. I’ll speak because it’s right. And it’s good to do right things. In AA, we always talk about doing the “next right thing”. We’re trained to look in front of us, and do whatever is right in that moment, to improve our own lives. I’ve emerged from a lot of dark chasms by doing the next right thing.

Full and inclusive rights for all of us; that’s the next right thing. It’s brighter out there.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. LawnBoy permalink
    16 June 2012 11:49

    Thanks – I’m to have helped you learn from me as I learned from you. I probably should learn more from you about avoiding internet debates 😉

    BTW, I think I cribbed the “born on third base” line from Molly Ivins’ decription of George W. Bush.

  2. 16 June 2012 12:14

    Very well said.

  3. 16 June 2012 16:24

    Oh, thanks for the source.

  4. Penelope permalink
    17 June 2012 09:56

    Thank you for writing this. It helps me to understand you better, both you now and the old you. I am so thankful that you grew to be who you are. I love you.

  5. 19 June 2012 22:51

    This is great. I am happy and proud, if I have had any hand in leading you to water, you silly horse. I myself have also, of course, been led to water by others. There are still some pools from which I have yet to drink.

  6. 5 July 2012 21:39

    I love the “born on third base thinking you’d hit a triple” way to describe privilege. It is so hard to grasp inherent privilege for most, it becomes a defensive point when it is brought up. I may use that to describe privilege in the future, if I may.

  7. Moose permalink
    6 July 2012 15:38

    Thanks for contributing to the carnival. It’s great to hear all the different voices that have gone into this. I really respect the level of introspection and detail you’ve shared.


  1. It’s here! The DiS Carnival #17 – PRIDE! | Balanced Instability

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