Something that makes me go, “Hmmmm?”

Below is a brief highlight of what was a rather lengthy conversation about homosexuality and societal acceptance. The conversation took place between a couple of random chicks and me in my Lit class after the Professor posed a question about coming out in the workplace when one lives in an area in which being gay *will* get you ostracized:

Chick 1: I think that gay people should just kinda, you know, deal with it…Society is changing and things are getting better, but I think it’ll just take time…Why do they have to come out at work? It’s like “don’t ask, don’t tell,” I feel like they’re there to do a job and should just do the job and then be themselves at home…

Me: Wait a minute…You’re asking people to deny a part of who they are simply because some people in society might think it’s icky? You expect the gay person to pretend to conform, never allowed to discuss their relationships with their co-workers?

Chick 2: Well, I personally think people shouldn’t discuss their private lives at all at work. It’s unprofessional.

Me: I agree, but that point is moot because people *do* discuss their private lives at work. The question is, should gays be forced to keep silent out of fear of repercussion?

Chick 2: *shrugs*

Me: (directed at chick one) Going back to your statement about the military, why should soldiers in the military be expected to keep their relationships hidden? Especially when they’re stationed far from home, most likely in a combat setting? What about when they’re overseas and everyone around them is having conversations with their significant others, but the gay persons have to pretend they’re just talking to a friend? What about the civil rights issue? Is it not a violation of their first amendment rights? You realize that under DADT, a gay person cannot come out at all, right?

Chick 1: Well, they don’t have to be in the military. They could do another job…

Me: You know, they used to say the same thing to women…Not just in the military, but to women who wanted to do anything that was considered *men’s work,* this included voting…Should women have just dealt with that?…

Dude in class: (interjecting) I think it’s wrong to keep gays quiet…I, for one, think they’re born gay…

Chick 1: Well, I agree. I think they are, too…

Me: So, then why would you put the burden of “just dealing with it” on the person who is born the way that they are…they have no choice, it’s literally who they are…and not on the bigot who has chosen, via willful ignorance, to be a judgmental tool?

Chick 1: *nods and shrugs*

I still want an answer to that last question: Why is the burden of acceptance always placed upon the marginalized and not upon the marginalizers? Why is it that the oppressed are always expected to just “deal” with it? Should it not be the other way around? Moreover, in keeping silent do those who disagree with bigotry not lend a measure of credence to that bigotry?

Originally written by Karen Lyn and published on Elephant Ocean on September 16, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author(s) and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Lyn with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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From Thoughts to Action

A few people wanted to know, what made us start Take Back America ? Well, here’s what motivated it:

This citizens’ movement, which is still a very small, fledgling movement, began  just a few months ago as an idea. Well, as a series of complaints, really, which evolved into an idea. I was sick and tired…of so many things really.

I was sick and tired of listening to the crazy, yes I said crazy, extreme right, the Palins and the Bachmanns and the Becks and the Bartons, making outlandish and non-factual statements about America and what our founders intended. They know nothing about our history, and even less about what the founders intended. I wanted to find a way to help my fellow Americans understand our rich and complicated history. To understand that we cannot know for a fact everything the founders “intended” and that, for the most part, we should not completely care because it is one thing to learn from the past, it is another thing entirely to live in it.

What we DO know is that the founders did not intend for this to be a Christian nation, as the Christian right would have us believe, hence the First Amendment. They did not intend for the Constitution to be a dead document, static and unchanging as many on the right, like Ron Paul, would have us believe. What they DID intend was for this to be a nation of, by, and for the people, not a nation of , by, and for corporations; hence the wording of the preamble of our very own Constitution. What they DID intend was to build a nation that would grow and change with its people, not a nation trapped in time but a nation that was timeless; hence the Amendment process. What they DID intend was for Congress to put the needs and rights of the people, whom they’re meant to serve, before all else; hence the wording of Article 1 Section 8 of  our Constitution: “Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.”

Our founders, though flawed, were wise enough to know and understand that society is not static, that its needs change over time and that a strong government changes and grows along with its people.

I was also sick and tired of those same extreme conservatives claiming to be the voice of America, the true patriots. Pro-corporate, anti-choice ideals are NOT the American legacy. At the time of its founding, The United States of America was the greatest experiment in political progressivism the world had ever seen, and, in many ways, we still are. We were built on the principle that all men, or as we now think of it, people, were created equal. That each citizen has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That every American is free to worship, or not, however many gods, be it one or many or none, that he or she sees fit; a promise which America is still among few nations in all the world to give. We are a nation founded by and built upon the idea of moving forward, always seeking a new outlook and new way of being, a chance to be have more and to be more. We have never been perfect, and we have made more than our fair share of mistakes along the way, but we have never stopped moving toward the next horizon. You don’t get more progressive than this.

I was also sick and tired of watching Americans, hard working and seemingly intelligent Americans, voting against their own interests: in with the Democrats, then out with them and in with the Republicans, over and over and over again. Yet, no matter which one we put in power, we still seem to lose. I wanted to find a way to inform voters that we HAVE other options. You are NOT throwing away your vote if you vote for the candidate whom you believe WILL best serve US.

Furthermore, I was sick and tired of watching voter turn-out shrink with each passing election season. I wanted to find a way to get Americans to understand that our votes are our voice! We must, each and everyone of us, vote in every election, from local to federal. Do not, for a second, underestimate the importance of political involvement. Politics, “of, for, or relating to the citizens,” is literally about the people, and it affects EVERY aspect of our lives. From the goods and services to which we have access to the quality of our education to the fact that we can stand up and demand better.  So vote, but do not think your duty ends there…No, this is the moment at which it actually begins. We did not get where we are now by the greed of corporations and the corruption of our politicians alone, we got here by our own complacency, more so than anything else.

For too long we have remained silent, even lazy. If we want to take back our country, if we want the political system to work in OUR favor, then we must work for it. We must make the ultimate sacrifice, that of our time and energy. We must take responsibility and we must take action. The rich get the attention because they make the most noise; they have lobbyist who make phone calls, write letters, and make meetings. Yet, the rich make up only 2% of the population, this means that there are over 294 million of us and only about 6 million of them. Imagine the force we the people could be if all of us performed our duty as citizens, if we each voted, wrote letters, made phone calls, or sent emails to our state and federal representatives every month. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, so lets be the squeaky wheel.

Which leads me to my final issue…I was sick and tired of watching us fail each other, of watching us allow ourselves to be divided. We sit and we finger point and we blame the “welfare mom” for sucking at America’s teat, we blame the Mexican immigrant for stealing our jobs, we blame our out of work neighbor for being lazy…Why? They are in the same boat as the rest of us…struggling to make ends meet, trying to survive while their hopes and dreams turn to smoke and fade away. We need to stop looking for scapegoats among ourselves and start acting like a united front. We need to stop fighting WITH each other and start fighting FOR each other.

So, I took my complaints to some friends. And they agreed. And I asked them, do you think we have something here? Do you think our fellow Americans would agree? Do you think there is anything we can do? And they said, it’s worth a try. And so, together, we started Take Back America, and here we are. We don’t know where this group will go, but we know who we are, we know what we want: We want to reclaim our country!

We know that sitting back and hoping for change is not acceptable. We know that we are done waiting for our elected officials, our servants for all intents and purposes, to have a sudden change of heart and become ethical. We know that America is only as strong as its poorest, its least educated, and its sickest citizens. We know that we’re failing our children when possession of marijuana can land you in prison for longer than molesting them can. We know that access to healthy food, clean water, clear air, and health care are all  human rights. We know that public programs like social security and education have made America strong, and that they have improved the financial well-being of millions of Americans. We know that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is a violation of their civil rights and that our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens are no less American than your or I. We know that in order for America to live up to the vision it has of itself, a nation of liberty and justice for all, we must pick it up and carry it forward.

We know that change begins with the people. We know we must start with our votes…If our representatives, from our towns to our states to our nation‘s capitol, are not working for us then they must be voted out of office and never let in again. We know that it is up to us, the people, to make this nation work. “Of, by, and for the people,” should not just be seen as a promise for fair government, it should be seen as call to duty…a reminder that the power of politics lies within our hands. This is politics, all of us right here and now, living and working all across America…It is US, we alone have the power to make it work or let it fail.

© Karen Lyn and Take Back America, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author(s) and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Lyn, author post authors as listed on this blog, and Take Back America with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My Personal Reflection on 9/11

Tomorrow marks the 10th Anniversary of one of the saddest days in our nation’s history, the day on which nearly 3,000 men, women, and children were murdered in what is still, in the opinions of many of people, a senseless act of violence (although, it did have a root cause, but that is a discussion for another time). As I reflect upon that  day and recall what I was doing on the morning we were attacked, I cannot help but think about what we have become since: a nation plagued by fear, driven by revenge and misplaced hatred, and weighted down by a war of ever mounting costs, both in lives and money.

And I am sad.

I am sad because as I watched the second plane crash into South Tower as the North Tower burned, I held my infant son in my arms. I am sad because as the reports came in that it was in deed an attack on the United States, an act of war, I knew that the world into which I had bore him had just taken a turn for the worse…and, much to my dismay, I was right. I am sad because my child, now ten, has never known a world without war. I am sad because he has grown up in world in which right-wing extremists and political ideologues equate Islam with murder and hate as they use their media outlets to monger war and fear.

And I am angry.

I am angry because as the years have progressed we have not. As we throw more and more money at war and destruction, we have allowed our education system to decline, our entitlement programs to all but disappear, and our infrastructures to deteriorate. I am angry because as we are force fed lies about the importance of democracy and freedom, we are oppressing millions worldwide. I am angry because we are no closer to ending terrorism than we were when the war began. Why? Because the root causes of terrorism is hatred and poverty, which cannot be overcome with violence; in fact, violence only exacerbates them. It cultivates them like shit on a field of weeds. I am angry because after ten years of war, hundreds of thousands of casualties (US, Afghan, and Iraqi), and trillions of dollars we are still in mourning for the lives lost on that sunny September morning; lives that are still lost, and no amount of money burned, no number of lives sacrificed will ever bring them back. I am angry because the only thing the War on Terror has succeeded in doing is eroding everything that makes America great, chief amongst them is our religious freedom.  In the aftermath of 9/11, right-wing Christian zealots have used fear of terrorism as an excuse to limit the free exercise of religion for Muslim Americans across the country as they attempt to prevent citizens of this nation from building houses of worship simply because those citizens happen to practice Islam.

This is not the world I want for my child. A world plagued by fear, greed, and hatred. When asked what sort of world my child would make if given the chance, he said, “I would make a world where people matter because they are people, and everyone has enough money and food. Oh, and a river of chocolate in their yards…” Ok, profound and a little silly…He is a child, after all.

And so I am also hopeful.

© Karen Lyn and Take Back America, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author(s) and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Lyn, author post authors as listed on this blog, and Take Back America with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.