Uncle Roger's Notebooks of Daily Life
My life is, to me, ripe with frequent challenges, occasional successes, spontaneous laughter, adequate tears, and enough *life* to last me a lifetime. To you, however, it surely seems most pedestrian. And therefore, I recycle the name I used previously and call this my Notebooks of Daily Life. Daily, because it's everyday in nature, ordinary. These conglomeration of events that are my life are of interest to me because I live it, perhaps mildly so to those who are touched by it, and could only be of perverse, morbid curiosity to anyone else. Yet, I offer them here nonetheless. Make of them what you will, and perhaps you can learn from my mistakes.
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Sunday, November 06, 2016
I pay a lot of taxes. Most of us do.
The government, in order to provide us services (police, fire, schools, roads, etc.), needs money. So we all chip in. I don't mind that. In fact, I'm actually willing to pay more. That's why I always vote for school bonds and the like. Mind you, I wish my taxes were lower, but I understand that if I want safe roads, good schools, fire and police protection, and so on, I have to do my part.
To be honest, I'm not sure when I began being outspoken about supporting the rights of the LGBT community in general or LGBT families in particular. I suspect the latter began about the time I started my own family -- I know that I've participated in every Blogging for LGBT Families Day since the second year. (For reference, this is the tenth year.) I wish I could say it goes back much, much further than that, but in my 20s I was a pretty oblivious, self-centered kid, only really interested in myself and my hobbies -- my recording studio, my career, music, movies, and, of course, beer. In my 30s, I was busy taking care of my dad and getting married, but somewhere in there, I stopped thinking only of myself and started noticing what was going on with others. So let's say I've been active in the fight for civil rights for somewhere between 10 and 20 years. That's a long time.
Those who know me well know that owning a Land Rover is an integral part of who I am. Quite a few of you, I only know because of Land Rovers.
This past week, just in time for Independence Day, the Supreme Court made America a lot less American. Hobby Lobby, a for-profit corporation, asked for an exemption from the Affordable Care Act so that the company would not have to provide insurance that covered their employees for certain types of birth control. The family that owns the corporation is quite religious and believe that the birth control in question should not be used. Somehow, they feel that their personal beliefs should be the beliefs of their company and they should be allowed to force those beliefs on their employees. Sadly, the SCOTUS agreed with them. Here's why that was the wrong decision.
In the late 1980s, the Disney Corporation came up with and advertising campaign that consisted of primarily sports celebrities being asked what they would be doing next, having just won some championship or something and then responding with "I'm going to Disneyland!" The campaign was brilliant; it certainly seems to have cemented in people's mind that Disneyland is the place to go when you want to celebrate some achievement or award. For us, however, it was the other way around.
On Friday afternoon, the 20th of September, I got an e-mail saying a package was on its way to me. Unlike most such e-mails, this was not from some wealthy widow trying to sneak her late husband's millions out of her country or a free sample of the latest weight-loss/penis-enlarging/heart-healthy herbal remedy but an exciting new camera accessory, the Capture Camera Clip. It's a two-part system intended to make carrying your camera and, more importantly, taking photos easier and more convenient. I saw it on Kickstarter when they were planning version 2 and backed it.
"Based on extensive research, we cannot state definitively that New Mexico law currently permits same-sex marriage." So said New Mexico Attorney General Gary King. "Because of our conclusion, we caution against issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples before the courts have decided the issue or the legislature changes the law."
There are a lot of people in this country who believe that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and that it should be run as such. Never mind, for the moment that the US was explicitly founded as a secular nation; there are those who would like to and are working to turn this country into a theocracy -- a nation ruled by religion. Existing examples of theocracies include Iran, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia. And, of course, the Vatican.
If you are an American, you support marriage equality because you support the notion that the pursuit of happiness should be afforded to everyone, regardless of whether or not what makes them happy is what makes you happy.
If you are an American, you fight to keep your religion out of the government, including the public schools, because you understand that part of the reason early settlers came to this country was to get away from governments that forced religion on them and you do not want to force your beliefs on anyone, any more than you want their beliefs forced on you.
If you are an American, you want to see universal healthcare provided to everyone because you understand that we, as a nation, are only as strong as our weakest member and because you abhor the idea of anyone suffering.
If you are an American, you believe the military should be used to build bridges -- literally and figuratively -- in other countries, not tear them down, because we want the rest of the world to admire our way of life so much that they will want to emulate it, rather than destroy it.
If you are an American, you support open immigration and opportunities for all, regardless of how or why they got here, because you know that not too long ago your own ancestors were immigrants as well -- or, if not, that these new immigrants can't be much worse than previous ones who stole your ancestors' land and killed so many of them.
If you are an American, you pay your taxes, and gladly, because you recognize the many benefits you've received -- and continue to receive -- from being an American and want to support this country, financially, knowing that it takes more than a two-dollar flag sticker on the back of your car for it to survive
If you are an American, you accept and celebrate your fellow Americans, whoever they might be because you understand that it is that grand diversity that has made this country the special place that it once was, is now, and, hopefully, will continue to be for many, many generations.
If you are an American, truly an American, hold your head up proudly. If not, it is time for you to change.
I've touched on the reasons (other than, duh, it's the right thing to do) why I fight for equal rights for all in the past, but I'm not sure I ever shared the reasons I drag my kids into the fray. It's important to me that they be a part of this for a number of reasons. And with this explanation I must also present an apology -- I apologize to the LGBT community because I have been using you.
You are welcome to any beliefs you care to hold, regardless of how silly they might seem to me or anyone else.
You are not, however, allowed to impose the limitations and restrictions dictated by your beliefs on anyone else.
Last week, Mittens "Magic Underwear" Romney weighed in on the historic 9th circuit court ruling that Prop 8 is indeed unconstitutional. As a Mormon, Mittens is well aware of so-called "non-traditional" marriages. In fact, it is my hypothesis that the reason the Mormon church is so rabidly anti-equality is that if same-sex marriage is legalized, people might start asking why polyamory isn't legal which, of course, would get people started looking at the Mormon church.
For quite some time, there has been a heated debate about whether homosexuality is a genetic or chosen attribute. Many who disapprove of it claim it is something that the LGBT community chooses, often due to some imagined pact with the devil. The best response to that, in my opinion, came from author, journalist, and sex columnist Dan Savage who said, essentially, "Prove it. Suck my dick." This was aimed directly at presidential hopeful/one-man comedy act Herman Cain. Thus far, Cain has failed to prove Homosexuality to be a choice.
But what if sexual orientation is a choice? What if we can choose to be either gay or straight? Recently, Cynthia Nixon told the New York Times that, for her, being gay is indeed a choice. This got a lot of people upset, not surprisingly. Many, I suppose, feared that she had handed the opposition a loaded weapon -- that she would be the one example that would be held up over and over again as the haters gleefully claimed that homosexuality is a choice for everyone. And then, along comes Frank Bruni.
I've been a fan of the kora, a 21-stringed instrument from Western Africa, for quite some time, ever since I discovered Toumani Diabate. I love the intricate patterns of sounds that players weave with all 18 fingers on their three hands. Okay, so kora players have only the usual numbers of fingers and hands and use only their thumb and forefinger. Still, the music is amazing and very moving.
I have always been a fan of setting goals, even if I don't always (or ever) get around to setting them for myself and even if I don't always achieve them when I do. I saw, recently, that my friends Susan and Karen had created life lists -- list of things they want do in their lives. I figure, if I have my whole life to work on them, I might be able to accomplish some similar goals.
In researching the idea, I found Mighty Girl whose Mighty Life List seems to have inspired a lot of people as well as John Goddard, whose list, written when he 15 and mostly checked off, has led him to have an amazing life. If you're interested in making your own; check out Karen's tips. Most important, however, is to simply make your list and then start crossing things off it.