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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Are you pushing necessary society change or just avoiding yourself?


One time I was observing a group on the news disrupting a church service attended by a certain politician.  They used the forum to try to push their agenda.  I won't identify the issue or actors as I don't want to distract from the larger point.  But, I wondered what made their agenda so important that they felt the need to shut down the service and the harass the politician attending it?  A possible answer occurred to me:  People sometimes find it less painful to 'change' society than to accept themselves or change what they don't like about themselves.  In short, for some people forcing everyone to 'accept' them or their agenda is easier than coming to terms with themselves.  That is to say, they are unwilling to do the emotional, spiritual or mental lifting required to come to terms with themselves and would rather push society toward 'validating' them--even if such validation would be forced.

Before I dive into this topic further, I want to make a few notes or disclaimers as I see it.
  • I don't mean to dismiss the need for social change in some areas.  Nor do I mean to dismiss the right or need to protest for such.  Women's suffrage and destroying the Jim Crowe legacy were clear examples of the need for and the right to protest for change.  I believe, most people when you stripped away the excuses and rationalizations realized at the time that women should have an equal vote in our republic and that no one should be denied service due to the color of the skin they were born with.  Clearly, pushing societal change was the right thing to do.
  • Sometimes people pushing for social change might do so for different reasons.  One because he or she has inner demons to deal with, while the other would due to a sincere belief in that cause.  Still another might have mixed motives. I'm focusing on the person who is using a 'cause' as an excuse to not deal with their personal demons.
  • People shouldn't generally be forced to buy into an idea or change.
    • It can speak of arrogance to those pushing it.  As if there idea or change is THE only right one.  Some ideas/changes aren't necessarily the right direction no matter how forcefully pushed.  See Nazi Germany as an extreme example.
    • Doing so can cause problems with the idea or change taking effectively.  This is especially true when other parties are denied a voice in the process.  Our Constitution anticipated this and while not perfect put processes in place: Having Congress write laws, having the executive branch enforce them, having SCOTUS review the laws for Constitutionality and giving us a process to amend the Constitution to seek consensus where there is not clarity.  
      • Changes done Constitutionally rather than by fiat, I believe have a better history of going more smoothly.  Constitutional amendments are rarely questioned today vs. those done by fiat as there is a sense of being better settled.
      • Changes done by fiat can also be undone by fiat.  If feel you were denied a voice in a change, you won't have as much of an issue with rolling back the change outside Constitutional boundaries.
    • Not everyone has to buy into an idea or change.
      • Sometimes forcing them to do so is to deny them their first amendment rights (to speak out).
      • If the change is for the better, society is more likely to gradually embrace it anyway. 
      • So ideas or changes don't require everyone to buy into them to become effective.

So back to my main point.  It occurred to me that some of the people pushing the hardest, shrieking the loudest and/or tolerating no dissent sometimes are doing so because of inner demons they have regarding the issue or change they are pushing.  In short, as Shakespeare said in Hamlet, "The lady doth protest too much methinks".

To wit:
  • Mark Foley, a champion against child pornography and who led the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children and led pushed for stronger laws to protect children against possible pornographic exploitation with the Child Modeling Exploitation Prevention Act of 2002.  The Act failed in part due to its overly broad nature.  In any case,  in 2006, he had to resign in disgrace from Congress when he was exposed to have have sexted underage pages.
    • On the one hand he practically carried 'protection' of children on his shoulders by himself, but on the other hand he struggled with exploiting underage boys. 
    • It is important to protect children and they need champions for them in high places. However, the extent that he pushed for 'protecting children' ultimately appeared to be either a cover for or a shame reaction for his own demons. 
  • In Oregon, a Christian couple was being pushed to bake a cake for a reception of a gay wedding, when it was probably obvious that they were "Christian-owned" business (Sweet Cakes).  My understanding it that they were likely not comfortable with the idea of 'condoning' gay marriage by participating in the celebration thereof.  They balked citing their faith and ultimately had their business and livelihood destroyed.
    • As they were located near Portland, OR, a number of similar businesses nearby could easily have met the wedding cake request.  This was likely known by the couple who requested the cake.
    • The couple that requested the cake, were probably aware of the the nature of the business, but instead of turning the other cheek (and respecting that a faith-based business could disagree with them), they pushed forward and sued the bakery into oblivion.
    • Instead of accepting that others could disagree with celebrating their lifestyle choice based on freedom of religion, it would seem that they were determined to 'force' society into complete acceptance and condoning of their lifestyle choice.  
    • It wasn't enough that the state accepted and condoned their lifestyle choice, the couple seemed to 'need' additional validation of their choice and couldn't accept that anyone could disagree with celebrating it (even if their faith dictated that).  In short, accept and celebrate us even if it is against your sincere and traditional religious beliefs OR we will shut you down.
    • My take is that in some of these cases, the 'advocates' would rather prove to everyone (and to themselves) how righteous they are by trying to force everyone else to agree, rather than reaching deep inside them and accepting that that is isn't necessary.  In short, forcing society to artificially 'validate' them rather than being comfortable with who they are.  

I'm not going to be the referee of what causes are worthy to push for provided that the 'innocent' aren't hurt nor is our safety or security.  I'm not going to tell others how to live.  Ultimately, I believe that each of us has to answer to our "Higher Power".  That being said, I don't want my right to free speech or free exercise of my faith smothered by a 'need' of another to be at peace with his or herself or their agenda.  That I believe is the start of fascism.  The very act of shutting or crushing another's freedoms for your own comfort or benefit is fascist in my humble opinion.

As Evelyn Beatrice Hall said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".  This applies to the right to practice your faith.  The Constitution doesn't guarantee a right to be free of being offended. 

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My takeaway?
  1. You have a right to express your Constitutionally protected beliefs.
  2. You do not have a right to deny others the same regardless of your 'needs'.
  3. If you are too damaged to cope with others having an alternative belief to you, you probably need to work on yourself.  
  4. If you 'require' or need to 'force' others to agree with you to have peace in your life, that's an indication that you probably need to work on yourself.
  5. If your first instinct is to try and shut other down rather than convince them, its a clear indication that you have fascist tendencies and need to work on yourself.

I know this post was controversial, but I've got to be true to myself.  My journey through understanding addiction, codependence and human nature is intended to help others, but is not intended to be a whitewash of how I see things.  It is intended to give a perspective perhaps that hasn't occurred to everyone or even anyone.  I know that I am not anywhere near being always right and try to own when I'm not.  However, it is most important to me to express things as I see them.  As I've told a few others when I 'see' unpleasant 'truths', I don't enjoy it and sometimes I wish and hope what I 'see' isn't so.

Thanks for reading and I hope this hasn't at least given you food for thought or at possible understanding of what drives some people.

- Rich