“Let’s kill what we do not understand, therefore fear!!!“ – Shout from the mob in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
I’ve seen comparison videos, images and quotes between the fight for equal rights, protections and loves between same-sex couples of today and civil rights and inter-racial couples of yesterday. It’s an effective comparison, mainly because what was so abhorrent during the 1960s (equal legal rights for minorities and the right for inter-racial couples to marry) has become so common place and sensible that we’re embarrassed to admit there was ever a time when human beings were subjugated and humiliated the way they once were and we want to encourage people of the 21st century to do a little fast forward and imagine how foolish they’ll feel after bearing witness to the harmlessness of same-sex marriage and reflecting on their own close-mindedness would bring them grief. It makes sense and, at first glance, I like the comparison. After all, I don’t want anyone looking back on their lives with the kind of regret that understands they did harm to someone.
Upon further reflection of my own, however, I’ve decided I really don’t want people worrying about what side of history they’re on. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely want homosexuals to have equal rights, protections and marriages (I still want that for women, too). But I don’t want people to look at the opportunity to change legislation as a fight that they want to try to choose the winner ahead of time to ensure they’re on the winning team. I know some people will argue that if guilt and shame can sway them to choose “the right side of history” then the end justify the means. I propose, however, that trying to choose where we stand based on who we think will win the fight is exactly the problem that got us here in the first place.
We have societal systems in place that have, for centuries, told us what is “right” and what is “wrong.” Sometimes those systems support values that are fairly universally regarded as a moral and appropriate code by which to live. Line items that tell us to be honest, to be appreciative, to have respect for others and to refrain from murder aren’t going to get a lot of contention from the masses.
However, spiritual avatars and philosophical thinkers did not lay down rules for our behavior. They did not say “don’t kill,” “don’t covet,” “don’t lie.” (If you only know the list of commandments outside of their proper contexts you may contend with this but most religious scholars will contend with you.) What they really said is that when you live with God (Love) in your heart you cannot help but be nurturing, appreciative and honest. That when we exist in our true state of being we simply ARE compassionate and there would be no need to go through a thought process to decide to become compassionate.
There are other values from these systems, however, that muddy the waters mainly because they’re one part human definition of “right”, one part tradition (it’s always been this way so we daren’t change it now) and several parts fear: Fear of breaking ranks, fear of retribution from our peers or from our God(s), fear of looking weak if we give in or really…and this is the big one…fear of what we don’t understand. With fear in our hearts we only have the capacity to follow the set of rules imparted to us (as we think we understand them) and hope that those rules are right because we doubt our own authenticity. With fear in our hearts we cannot BE compassionate we can only behave compassionately from time to time and by conscious choice.
With this in mind, it simply doesn’t make sense to me to have someone come to the “right side of history” out of fear of being on the “wrong side.” Fear is a manacle of ignorance. Fear traps us in a prison of our own misunderstanding because it prohibits us from the meaningful soul searching it takes to connect us with our deepest Truths about ourselves (our Selves) and others.
As much as we would like there to be, there simply is no instruction manual for life. There is no one “right” side of history. There is only the opportunity at each challenge to our thinking to dig deep within ourselves and find the Love at our core that answers the question, “what do I do?” Love knows. Love will not steer you wrong. It cannot because Love is our true nature and will always bring us to each other for the best possible outcome for everyone.
So, no, I don’t want you to care about what side of history you’re on because I don’t want any of us living in fear anymore. I’d rather we shut out the noise of society and go inward, deeply inward. I believe within each of us lies a spark of Truth that would never allow us to do harm to anyone or deny any living being their right to live happily.