Maybe it’s always been this way, and I’ve just been too uninvolved to see it. Maybe I was too young, or sheltered, or apathetic. Maybe it’s the increasing availability of information, but lately, it’s become painfully obvious. The world has gone crazy.
And I mean really, crazy. Each day my facebook newsfeed is overrun with the sad, scary idiocy of narrow-minded hatred. I have become increasingly appalled by the news, by the statements of our leaders, by our country’s response to them. I am confused as to how so many people can agree with ideas that, to me, are so obviously wrong. Somehow we have set ourselves back fifty years. Have we forgotten our history? Have we forgotten what America is supposed to be? Has everyone gone mad?
I remember as a teenager wishing that I could have grown up in the ‘60s, not only because I loved the fashion and the whole peace-and-love lifestyle I had seen in movies and learned about in school, but because I wanted to have causes that I could fight for. I wanted to march and to connect and to feel like I could make a difference. I wanted to use my convictions and strength of character to take a stand. I wanted to feel like I could change the world.
But now, in the midst of what feels like the fight for civil rights part two, I just want it to be over. I want everyone to remember what it means to be American. We are supposed to be equal. We are supposed to be free. Why is it so difficult to honor that?
It’s no surprise to anyone that I’m liberal. Anyone who has spent five minutes with me, or visited my facebook page, or read any word I’ve ever written knows that about me. I was raised by two liberals. They fought for these same rights in their youth. They hoped to make the world a better place for their future children. It’s not surprising that I hope for the same.
It’s not surprising after spending thirteen years at an all-girl school, and then working in a field comprised mostly of women, that I am a feminist. It’s not surprising that I am for gay rights, which are really just human rights, which all of us, as humans, should be equally entitled to. It’s not surprising that I am pro-choice, not only in terms of a woman’s right to choose whether or not she wants to have a child, but for all of us, in all that we do. I am also pro-life, not in terms of anti-choice (which is what that name has come to represent), but in that I value life and the choices that comprise it. I value my life and the lives of others. I value all lives, as complicated and different as they may be. Isn’t that what freedom is? The right to make our own choices about our lives? The right to be whoever it is we are?
And of course this includes freedom of speech. Of course this means that people have the right to disagree with me on these subjects, and countless others. I welcome logical debates. There are things I won’t ever understand, but I am open to trying. I am willing to listen to what the other side has to say, even if I don’t agree. There is value to all opinions. That’s what freedom of speech means.
But what surprises me, what distresses me, is that people use that freedom to try and take away the freedom of others. And that’s not okay. No matter who you are – liberal, conservative, gay, straight, male, female, black, white, rich, poor – anyone – you have to agree that it’s not okay.
What purpose does it serve to take away freedom? How does anyone else’s lessen your own? How does anyone else’s love lessen your own? How do anyone else’s choices about their bodies or their spouses or their families change anything for you? What’s so threatening about equality? Why are you so afraid?
I’m not asking as a woman, or a liberal, or a peace-loving hippie (although I am all of those things, and more). I’m asking as a human being. I’m asking as someone who grew up believing in the goodness of people. I’m asking as someone who wants my future children, our future children, to be able to believe that too. I’m asking as someone who knows, with certainty, that the ugliest word is “normal.” We aren’t normal. Not one of us. We are all beautiful, valuable, loveable, important little freaks.
And we all deserve equal freedom to be just that.