Ethics. Morals. Beliefs. I, along with probably most other people living in First World countries, find my value systems and integrity in each respect being challenged daily by life’s circumstances, as well as the conundrum of attempting to uphold my own while coexisting in a world inhabited by 7 billion other people and their own set of ethics, morals and beliefs. It is quite honestly an additional struggle in one’s personal pursuit of maturation and self-actualization. I thrive off of the concept of expressing individuality without threatening communal equality. Being the person I feel most comfortable being while still being accepting and understanding of those who do not particularly look like me, do things I do, believe in things I necessarily don’t.
It is that ideology that lead to my work as a campaign fundraiser. My job entailed raising money for progressive non-profit organizations. The organization I was working for focused their current efforts on LGBT rights, specifically against legislation drafted that gave religious individuals or businesses the right to legally discriminate against people solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It was a cause I could easily get behind and relate to.
As a Black American I can empathize with any group of people being denied service or employment, and having that discrimination be justified with religious context, even with coming from a religious background myself. Growing up in the baptist church, one recurring theme I always spiritually relled against was the intolerance and shunning of the gay community. Even if homosexuality is perceived as sinful, there are plenty other more abstract sins that I believe are deserving of more critical chastisement.
However in the last couple of weeks of my job there, I noticed a slight unsettling of my beliefs. As a a smiling couple with a young child walked passed, I asked if they supported gay rights. What happened next was completely unexpected and unnerving. While the man gave a simple and polite ‘no’, the woman covered the child’s ear and screeched “Stop harassing us! I don’t support sin, I support Christian rights”. I should’ve felt pity for the angry woman, and called her names like “unreasonable” and or “illogical” as my coworkers did- I couldn’t- I actually felt as if I truly offended this woman and her family, and it is not my nature to stir up such ill emotion.
That occurrence led me to question my own beliefs about equality for a about a week when a lady approached me and brought a valid point to my mind. She inquired something along the lines of ‘What if you were this religious person, and you felt or were raised to believe that if you served a gay person a wedding cake, you could possibly be placing yourself on the waiting list for Hell. Would you still serve that cake? And if you firmly believed these things wouldn’t it be wrong for the government to pressure you to go against your convictions?”. I was stumped. In all rationality, the lady was absolutely right in the sense that by giving one group of people their perceptively equal rights, you’re threatening and/or removing the rights of others. As much as a gay person deserves the right to be served in a restaurant-equally speaking- that restaurant should have the authority to deny that gay person a meal, or else equality becomes biased. It makes me refer back to the law of exponentiality. A western philosophy usually denotes the growth of populations and how it correlates to the limiting of resources. I believe the concept can easily be applied to the paradox of equal rights. The more diverse a community becomes, along with the expansion of subcultures, equality becomes more grey than black and white. If a demographic of tall people believe that the height of all public door knobs should be raised to accommodate their needs, it’s going to conflict with the needs of short people. A silly parable to ponder upon, but a valid parable nonetheless.
Today’s lawmakers have their work cut out for them. How can you create laws and policies that protect and defend the rights of each and every demographic while still promoting the growth and progression of the nation as a whole? In turn, individualism versus assimilation becomes capitalism versus communism. I would love to be able to trust that our government would be willing to work to correct this problem, but then again, our’s doesn’t set much of an example, being split into dangerously lax liberals and unhealthily constricted conservatives. I believe the solution lies primarily in the people. In the people’s willingness to accept and understand the differences of other individuals and cultures, and balance of equality being scaled harmoniously. I doubt I’ll see it come to fruition in this life though. In the meantime, I took my fundraising talents to an organization that saves and improves the lives of children. Everyone likes kids.