This morning, my dear husband, Brian, found out that shareholders of Aflac have voted to deny benefits to members of same-sex partnerships. He posted a link to the article, asking “What the hell is wrong with our piece of shit species?”
In the wake of Amendment One’s passage in North Carolina, I understand and respect his concern and frustration. My beloved home state has banned same-sex marriage, which was already illegal, as a way to “protect” marriage. Whose marriage? My marriage isn’t threatened by gay people wanting to commit their lives to each other. The most moving shows of support for my life with Brian have come from my gay friends. And protect marriage from what? From whom? It’s ridiculous, and frankly, a waste of time and money on an issue that the state should have no say in, anyway. But despite empathizing with Brian’s frustration, I don’t share his (I believe temporary) conclusion that we have a “piece of shit species.”
I think what we are witnessing, rather, is the evolution of our species. I think in the end, we will marvel at our own resilience and abilities to adapt and fight and survive. But I think that day may be far off, and it will be hard won. I may not get to see that in my lifetime. But I hope that Jack will be able to not only witness it, but participate in it. This post is a very long-winded version of what someone posted on our friend Nathan Woodward’s wall, which was, “Don’t worry. Old people die.” It made me laugh, but it’s also quite true. And it’s not just people. Old ideas die, as well. Old systems, old world views. What we’re seeing, I believe, is the crumbling of an old order. The old boy network. The corporate mentality. The factory-like education of the generations following the Industrial Revolution. And this old system, in its death throes, is striking out at everything which threatens it (which is everything). It’s not going to be pretty. It’s not going to be easy for any of us. But it will die.
But life doesn’t give up. Yesterday, I walked over to the site of a recent forest fire near my house. I saw a lot of blackened stumps and ashy ground. But I also saw something else: green shoots. The charred ground has already fertilized the seeds of a new generation. OK, maybe that sounds grand. But I think we’re in an era of tremendous change and growth. I don’t think my grand metaphor is really that hyperbolic. Yes, we’re going to burn and people we love will die, and we will fight and get dirty. But one day, when the dust has settled, Jack and his progeny will thank us for fighting and getting dirty for them. So that each of them has the right to love and marry as s/he chooses. So that he and everyone else can trust his own mind, his own voice, instead of following orders and being “a good boy.”
So I said to Brian that while it’s good to get angry, that it’s necessary to know what needs to change, we also need hope to make those changes happen. Like the t-shirt says: “Stop bitching. Start a revolution.” If the response to Amendment One’s passage is any indication, I think it’s safe to say the revolution has begun.