Friday, November 04, 2005

What's so funny 'bout peace, love, and understanding?

I was driving Ethan somewhere yesterday (I'm in the car driving so darn much that honestly I can't remember. Yikes!) and the NPR people were talking about Alito, and I was muttering disgruntledly to myself, and Ethan asked me why.

So I explained to him about the whole president-gets-to-pick-whoever-he-wants-for-Supreme-Court-judges-who-might-be-there-for-20-years-after-he-isn't-president-anymore scenario, and since he knows I DESPISE/LOATHE/ABOMINATE George W. Bush with the fire of a fafillion suns, he put the pieces together about my mutterings pretty quickly. Good lad, that.

When I told him this judge, and this court in particular, could substantially affect the world he grows up in, he asked me for specifics. I didn't have enough time to get into the whole abortion discussion (Pro-Choice, in case you're wondering, although I'm pretty sure you could've guessed), so I told him about how pretty soon gay marriage issues will be coming before the court, and about how when one gay person gets really ill, or is in a terrible car wreck or something, Bush and his peeps think it's just fine and dandy that the gay person's partner of no-matter-how-many years, who loves him or her just as much as married male/female couples love each other, wouldn't be able to visit the injured/sick gay person in intensive care or make end-of-life decisions for their loved one.

Ethan thought this was horrible. Because he's a HUMAN BEING, G-DUB.

I also told him about how gay people often adopt children, in states where that's allowed, especially children other couples don't want, but that Bush & Co. don't want gay people to be able to adopt children, or even be parents through any other means.

Again, Ethan, the reasonable and loving human being, was aghast.

I bring this up because I've been thinking about this conversation ever since.

Now, my parents are not the most progressive people on the planet, by any stretch. Sometimes I am embarrassed by their old-fashioned-ness. My mom and dad came from families that, though quite different, were racist as a matter of course. Mom came from old Louisville aristocracy, and her people hired "colored folks" as maids and housekeepers, and to this day I get the willies when I walk in the Pendennis Club and notice afresh that ALL the service staff is black, and ALL the members are white. Dad came from farm folk in the tiny, poor, white town of Bargersville, Indiana. Grandpa died before I was born, but Grandma was afraid of black people, and certainly didn't trust them to take care of her in her later years. And gay people? What are those?

So it's rather remarkable that my parents, coming from that background, and religious in only the most unobtrusive, laid-back Methodist sort of way, managed to raise me as someone who doesn't have a racist or anti-gay bone in my body. I think that my mom, as an educator, came into contact with many different types of children, and was just too kind to parcel them out into limiting categories in her own mind. (She still calls gay men "fairies," which I think is hilarious, but she loves the entertainment industry far too much to harbor any ill-will towards them.)

Ever since I had this conversation with Ethan, I've been trying to imagine what those uber-religious, right-wing nutbars say to their children. How do you phrase hate and fear and package it for the consumption of small children, who are, for the most part, predisposed to care for their fellow humans?

"Gay people are SINNERS, Keight-lynne. They will BURN IN HELL and you must shun them. Especially you, Jebediah!"

"Listen here, Heaven-Lee, you git away from them two wimmen. Them's nasty, and don'tchew EVER let me citch yew talkin' to that there daughter they got thar, or I'll wear outchor butt with mah belt! They'll gitchew, and then yull be sorry. "

"When girls wear pants, God gets a tummy ache!" (Actually said to my husband's sister when she was little. Sometimes Indiana is just embarrassing, yo.)

I'm so proud I have a compassionate, empathetic child. I take quite seriously the responsibility of enlarging his scope of understanding, and pointing his moral compass in the right direction. I cannot even IMAGINE teaching him to hate or fear someone because of their ethnicity, culture, sex, sexual identity, or anything else.*

There's enough ignorance and lunacy in this world.

There's a quote from Dickens that I have had framed, and that I have looked at every day since I had Ethan.

"It is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us."

My brother asked me about it recently, because he knows I don't believe in that "God." I explained that, to me, what it's really saying is that children start out so pure and so full of unadulterated love, that when they love us, they love us for our truest selves, and that is SO incredibly redeeming and powerful to me. Ethan, in a way, saved me. By loving me for my SELF, he taught me that I was worth something.

We should extend that, I think. Children love. They don't know, and don't need to know, any of the other crap that attaches itself and constitutues conditions and caveats to that love as we grow older. They just love, and that love is beautiful.

Why would anyone EVER corrupt that? Adults could really learn from children, if we'd open our damn eyes and our hearts. Imagine if we all loved each other in that redeeming way.

Just imagine.

*except G-Dub. But he's an exceptional case, truly. His idiocy is his own fault. And it's ok to hate willful moronitude. It IS! This does not detract from my message of peace and love in any way.


Blogger PRESTOWN said...

Thanks for visiting my blog...I hope my migraines don;t last long!


12:34 PM  
Blogger Tess said...

Hola Grudge Girl,
I wanted you to visit my blog because a few of my friends have gotten great advice from you and i of course love older and more intelligent advice. Sometimes it s hard to talk w/ my mom about stuff in my life and with you being a mom maybe it will be easier for me to talk with someone like you. It's just with boys and junk.......leave comments. I am very random sooo don't make fun!! I think we could get along quite fine.
I love your kids there are soooo cute!

2:11 PM  
Blogger Tracy Lynn said...

Dude, I totally think any right minded person knows that G Dub is seriously misguided.
I think the problems start with the assumption of absolute right and absolute wrong. If there is no gray area, there is no room for flexibility, no room for entertaining the possibility that there may be other ways of doing things that are equally as valid as your own.
I have a wide variety of religious people in my family, from liberal Episcopalians to Born Again Right wingers. Some are more flexible than others.
I get good advice from you, too. HEE

2:42 PM  
Blogger I Wish I Could Be a Princess said...

Wow! i see my friends have been visiting!I totally agree with u on the gay thing. I have gay relatives that are not referred to as gay and I dont think its fair that their partners get left out of all our family stuff.(I have two gay female cousins who are totally cool) They are really pretty and I didnt know they were gay till like last year.
Blog on biotch

2:57 PM  
Blogger PRESTOWN said...

I am so glad that Sierra found you! You give such good advice and I am glad you vistited my blog! Your kids are so FLIPPIN cute!

Good DAY,

3:20 PM  
Blogger Tracy Lynn said...

Thanks for the news, Beth. Awesome.
Do we know who won the lottery?

3:28 PM  
Blogger yucaree said...

the whole thing about the way children love and how adults corrupt that pure, innocent love really hit home. i've always tried very hard to do the same thing you've done with ethan for my son, and now that i've had my daughter, i hope to continue that.

and don't get my started about g-dub and his peeps! they make me go "bleh!"

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you hate America?

8:47 AM  
Blogger grudge girl said...

Hee! Why do I hate America?!

Is that you, brother? Ha ha very funny.

Or is it Nathan?


Actually, that's funny no matter who it is. BWAH!

I don't hate America. I hate Bush, and narrow-minded zealots, and haters.

Oh, and anonymous commenters. HA!

10:34 AM  
Blogger philbug said...

As someone who now goes to "The big gay church" Jesus Metropolitan Community Church, and had a pretty open/progressive view of the bible, etc...people like G-dubbya just don't "get it." When will americans wake up and realize that you don't have to be an ultra rightwing, bible thumping christian to be moral and a full member of this community we call the United States of America? Tracy lynn hit it right on the head, with the gray area, and accepting other people's beliefs as just as valid as one's own. I may believe one set of "truth" that is just as valid as someone else's "truth". Let's face it, no one, including the president of the "greatest nation in the world", has the right to decide what is true/real for everyone else. His bending to the right wing ultra conservative "christians" makes my teeth hurt.

2:55 AM  
Anonymous Ely said...

This cannot succeed in reality, that is exactly what I suppose.
Ham Rolls

3:24 PM  

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