Friday, February 1, 2013
The Birth Lottery
There are things that happen in life that change you. Either you take what you are given and make something with it. Something better, or you use it as an excuse to be complacent. To give up. Sometime last year there was an uproar over rights. Who is entitled to them and who is not. Who gets to decide and who's opinions did not matter. It was a very sad thing. It reminded me of another era. I was too young for the civil rights marches of the 60's, but looking over the old news footage has always made me feel shame. Not for anything I had done, but for the sheer depth of depravity and heartlessness with which we as a people, treated each other. I have trouble even now, so far removed from those acts, understanding the mindset of individuals perpetrating such hateful actions against another. That they were being filmed was not a secret. These were not things done in dim rooms, without witnesses. No, this was in the cold light of day, with crowds all around. That there was a time in this country where that kind of behavior was not only condoned but encouraged, is beyond my ability to understand. One group thought that they, due to their birth, were best suited to ladle out rights and privileges.
Of course, they set themselves apart. They were allotted a full serving of favors. Not for anything that they had achieved with their own virtue, but because they were born to it. Here we had come so far from our Puritanical Anglo-Saxon beginnings and yet we were still living under the false ideal that it is acceptable to rule over others. We celebrate every year the freedom that we obtained. It is part of our culture. How our forefathers turned away from a repressive ruler. Another man who asserted that he was born into royalty and therefore it was his right, indeed his duty to decide who was worthy and who was not. We are all taught in grade school of the bravery those early Americans enacted. How they were the David to England's Goliath. What pride it instills in us even now. It is the backbone, the basis for our country's founding. The words are in the preamble to our Constitution "it is an inalienable right that all men are created equal...." People died for this belief. Some on killing fields in foreign countries and some on city streets all over this country. It is happening still.
The battle seems to have started before the ink on that document had dried. Surely not EVERY man, no. Oh and women? Not at all. It was an extension of that original kingdom. Fiefdoms set up by those who used their very birth as reason that they were the chosen few to stand above all others. One had only to look at them to see that they were superior. It was ordained. Clearly out of their hands. This burden of telling others how they could and could not live. To make up the rules, always in their favor, for everyone else to follow. It has been this way since our beginning. Those claiming to have won the birth lottery and therefore entitled to more than others.
Every time I hear someone speak on what someone else is allowed to do, or what they are to believe in, my mind goes back to those sepia images of horrid acts and the smiling ghostly faces of the predators. They seem to always be smiling. As if they have won a large trophy for some great deed. But in reality, they are simply murderers and that trophy? Well, that would be some poor unfortunate soul who was unlucky to have not been born one of them. They were justified their criminal behavior because God had deemed them better than. It was not their fault. These were the rules and they were only too glad to enforce them as they saw fit. Just as long as they were the chosen ones. It was their club and they would set the standards for others to follow.
You would think that we as a country would have learned, we have been through Civil War and World Wars and still we fail to see our own fault. It is not for anyone else to decide your value. No one has the right to withhold your rights. That is the very premise of human rights. It is a very sad thing. We have come so far and yet we have moved so little. From Catholic to Protestant, Anglo-Saxon, to African American, to Irish and Polish and then there were the Italians. We have had many generations to continue to refine what we consider to be allowed. The races change, but not the hatred. It is a saddening thing, like evolution in reverse. Instead of discriminating against another's skin color, we have brought the war closer. We look at our family sons and daughters and we say that they are less than. We lift up the name of God as an excuse for this contempt. Again, it is out of our hands, we must follow the teachings. The ones that we pick and choose that is. And only our God has a say, your God is a false prophet. I get the chance to communicate with many of these disenfranchised souls. The newest members of the banished tribe. I see their pain as they describe parents spewing hate and disowning them. I hear that deep grief that can only come when your mother or father inflict the wounds. And again, I feel that shame. Not because I have taken part in such things, but because we as a people still do. We are one tribe. One people. We are different and the same at once. It is the greatest miracle that God bestows on us. And it goes mostly unseen. There is a love that comes with acceptance. A deep abiding peace.
We were all born something and whatever that is, it is no accident. We were born in this time. In this moment right here to make it better. To love others and just as important, to love ourselves. We are all broken. That is a given. We must learn to heal ourselves and then help others do the same. The day will come when human rights are set higher than one religion, one belief, one moral code. We were born to be loved and to love, it is our true birthright and no man, no group can change that. The world is changing. Do you see it? Take part, this is your time and your world. Peace and love to you.