While I certainly found myself moved by watching the results from the New York State House last night, I am also oddly unsettled. I do believe that a celebration is in order; I also believe that there is much work to do.
The last 150 years have shown us that each time a minority group takes a step forward, there is inevitably someone waiting to push them back. Of course, when I say ‘them’ I really mean ‘us‘. As much as the majority group likes to rage about ‘taking the country back’ and about the ‘moral decay of society’, at some point we have to realize that freedom is not a zero-sum game. Giving freedom to others (and I’ll get to that phrase straight on) does not diminish our own. There is a tremendous difference between freedom and power. Yes, just like those players who are studs at 6-man find out once they hit college, the more people you bring into the game, the less time you get to spend with the ball. However, when you have a larger team, you also have more people to carry the load and not every member has to be a stud on every game day.
Now, as to giving others freedom…is that really ours to give? Since when are we the cosmic gatekeepers? Arguably the most famous sentence in American History states:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.
Now, I don’t really want to parse the word “men”, and I ain’t about to get into an argument over the word ‘Creator’. I’ll be happy to leave that up to each individual’s conscience, as the Founders did. But I’m fair certain that ‘Liberty’ has a standard, acceptable, black and white, no-grey-areas-here, dictionary definition on which all parties can agree. And even if we will never agree on who or what that Creator is or isn’t, if we’ve established such that that entity endowed us all, then why does anyone have to be given freedom by mere mortals? Why does anyone have to “fight for their rights“?
According to TJ, we’re born with all the rights we’ll ever need. I’d like all of mine right now, please. No, you say? Well, why not? In my mind, it always goes back to power. If we all are instantaneously granted all of our rights, all of our freedoms, all of our Liberty, what then happens to the power that controls us? Or if we really want to dig, the question becomes, “Why does anyone feel the need to exercise such power?”
So yes, I’m happy that marriage equality is moving forward. But the real work lies ahead. We must convince those that shout the loudest about freedom that it’s high time everyone got to enjoy it.