Seth Keel, center, is consoled by his boyfriend, Ian Chambers, left, and his mother Jill Hinton, during a concession speech at an Amendment One opposition party

Most people following the anti-gay marriage amendment vote in North Carolina (NC) in recent weeks were not surprised by the results from that relatively rural, conservative southern state.  What was surprising and upsetting for many of us was the margin of victory.  Moderate clergy and politicians encouraged the people of NC to reject the proposed change in the state’s constitution because:

  • It was a totally unnecessary way of imposing personal values and religious doctrine on others
  • It banned not only gay marriage but all civil unions and domestic partnerships, gay and straight
  • Clergy and local churches would maintain their right to not perform gay marriages or civil unions with or without the amendment

But 63%  North Carolinian voters apparently needed to make a powerful statement to the sinful, evil world of tolerance:  “don’t include us.”   Sound familiar?  A southern state rejecting humanistic values?

Tuesday, angry conservatives in the Hoosier State told their moderate Republican Senator, Richard Lugar who had represented them for 6 terms, to take a walk.  Like the good’ol boys and gals of NC, conservatives in Indiana were in no mood to be charitable to anyone.  No way were they going be represented any longer by some wussy-moderate.  So they nominated Richard E. Mourdock, a tea-party, take-no-prisoners conservative who, according to the New York Times has repeatedly said that “bipartisanship has led the nation to the brink of bankruptcy, and that the nations current circumstances call for a time of confrontation, not collegiality.”

The only good news on May 9th was that President Barack Obama, having been kicked in the proverbial keester by his own V.P., got off the fence and told us that he personally and spiritually now accepts the appropriateness of marriage equality.

Many Americans are concerned about how polarized our culture and politics have become.  Nowhere is that divide greater or more evident than in the halls of the U.S. Congress. On Tuesday, a bill before the Senate that would have stopped student loan interest rates from doubling in the coming months, failed to pass because Democrats and Republicans couldn’t agree on where the money to cover the bill’s cost should come from.  Democrats wanted to pay for it by closing  loopholes in payroll taxes; Republicans wanted to take the money out of preventive health care programs.  Who needs good health if you have money?

The vote in North Carolina and President Obama’s statement supporting gay marriage may appear to be indicative of a nation is this being dangerously divided by values and culture.  I for one am not afraid of this polarization.  And while I would hope that my elected representatives in government will always have the will and the maturity to know how and when to compromise to keep government operating and serving the needs of the nation, I think we’re long overdue for a definitive showdown.  If compromise and moderation are off the table, I stand shoulder to shoulder, or should I say, nose to nose with Richard Mourdock  in saying no thank you to civility and collegiality.  I’ll take my chances with confrontation.

It’s time America: its time for another showdown in our nations history between:

    1. Those who courageously want us to  move forward socially and culturally and those who still idealize the exclusionary white-conservative-Christian dominated society that was America, circa 1950’s.
    2. America is long overdue for a showdown between 3 groups of people, two of whom are natural allies:  social conservatives who have no doubt that their values are the same as Jesus and the secularists and religious moderates who have the common-sense smarts to know that societies and YES, even religions, must evolve based on need, circumstance and the ever-growing wisdom of humanity.
    3. Our nation is composed of different strata of people trying to live in harmony with one another in: neighborhoods,  towns, cities, states and the nation as a whole.  Each strata of our society affords us an opportunity to share resources and address common needs.  Some Americans recognize and respect their responsibilities to one another; many American do not.  That may be a simplistic definition of the liberal and conservative divide but when it comes to social issues and politics, that explanation of our polarized positions is as good as any.  It’s a “we” versus “me” mentality that divides Americans today as profoundly as any international border separates two nations.
    4. It’s time for show down between emotionally mature Americans who are committed to diversity and inclusion, social and environmental responsibilities and those who subscribe to a frontier mentality in which every person arms him/herself; earns and keeps as much money and consumer goods as possible regardless on the consequences of his/her labors to others or the environment;  between those who have the emotional and intellectual capacity to assimilate change and those who would insist that everyone conform to their norms and standards, less they have to deal with cognitive dissonance and emotional dislocation.  (Be whatever you want in private, don’t shove you unholy-odd ways in my face!)

It’s time for a not dissimilar show down to the one this country had 150 years ago.  This time though, I hope we won’t shed one drop of blood if any particular stratum in this nation says, “leave me out.”  I say, “don’t slam the door behind you.”  I have no doubt that eventually  economics will enlighten the confederates who have neither the intellectual or economic resources to survive without the people who today constitute America’s solidly “blue states.”  

(And can you imagine the social and economic repercussions of a migration of educated, tolerant Americans from red states to blue?  If you think North Korea needs food and help from the rest of the world, you ain’t seen nothing yet.)

BTW, much of the anger and frustration you may sense in this column was in part inspired by this video which has gone viral in recent days.  It speaks volumes about the social and cultural divide in this country.  It speaks volumes about spiritual enlightenment, who in this country is really tuned into and sharing God’s love, and the profound stupidity and bigotry of many Americans.

 

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