It's amazing how controlled I've become. I've been to Canada & France in recent years. I've spoken to many, many citizens. They've confirmed they don't wait for years for heart surgery. And, no.. their taxes aren't THAT higher than mine. They all seem more relaxed, have a higher quality of life, and appear to be more tolerant than the average US citizen. But even with that direct confirmation, I'm apathetic.
... I see some squirming in the back. Don't worry - I'm not sliding down that slippery slope of anti-US propaganda.. no conspiracy theories here. Stick with me.
I've been trying figure out why my apathy seems to reign on so many topics these days. Sure, it could be age. It could be that post 9/11 fear.. When your country becomes one where descent from popular opinion causes hateful backlash, it can tempting to hunker down in an undisclosed location until everyone's done killing each other.
For me, it's something more subtle. Part of what made the Christian Coalition so successful was their ability to isolate large groups of people. Anyone who's taken Horror Film 101 knows that "fear of the other" is the root of most scary movies. The CC became powerful by preaching to hate the gays, the feminists, the abortionists, single moms; the list goes on and on. This divided people into the holy and the rest of us. Unless the sinners wished to show shame and repent, there was no point in speaking with us. Those of us facing the hate felt shame and/or anger. So we stopped talking back.
As this method became more popular, it caught on with other groups - right wing pundits, radio show hosts, politicians, all day news channels, and bloggers preached against a larger list of "others". It's become a game, trying to figure out which "other" will be the focus of the next election cycle. We've become a country of people who can only speak to others with the exact same values.
The most shameful part of this lies on our - the glbt community's - doorstep. Many of us have become what we hate. We contribute to the lack of understanding and lack of dialog by naming names and publicly listing enemies.. I'm not talking Rush Limbaugh, here ok?
I'm talking about outing an 18 year old working for a right wing politician. How many of us did screwed up things while trying to figure out our sexuality? Have we left this child an open door when he finally learns to love himself? Or have we doomed him to purgatory?
Do we think we've increased Isiah Washington's tolerance by making him enemy number 1? Or have we widened the divide between two "other" communities? Look, I'm not saying the use of the "f" word is ever right.. My god! The fact that I feel nervous about discussing this only proves why we've become no better than them.
If I were to use a rumor about the president being bisexual merely to "take him down" because I don't like him.. If true, have I decided to keep even my community members at bay? If not, what would it mean if I choose to use my own label to disempower? What would that make me?
It would make me one of those people on the right side of my little walled in section of the country. And when we're all closed in, with the power of our own little group of ditto heads, then the current health care system will remain unchallenged.
And they win