Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Taking The Long View

As I contemplated the feeling of profound disappointment last Wednesday morning, exhausted from having fought so hard for a cause and come up short, I knew I had felt that feeling before. It came to me that it was the same feeling that I felt last February the day after "super Tuesday", when I had poured a heap of time, sweat, and money into Obama's primary campaign in California. He had been leading in the polls in California, and at least within my horizons, there had seemed to be a vast surging tide of enthusiasm for Obama then that seemed to assure victory in the California primary. On February 6, I awoke to the news and that same feeling of exhausted disbelief and crestfallenness. But the similarity of those days suggests a lesson to me. One of the things I have admired about Obama is his uncanny ability to remain calm and steadily focused on the long goal despite blows and setbacks. While first Clinton and later McCain kept reinventing themselves to fit the focus group of the moment, and kept changing their strategy like a supermodel changes shoes, Obama kept his steady eye on the prize and didn't waver in his vision or in the execution of his strategy. Prop 8 was a setback, but we need to remember that just as sure as Obama lost California on super Tuesday and still went on to win the election, the cause of equal treatment under the law for citizens regardless of their sexual orientation will win out in the end.

I haven't participated in any of the large protests going on since the election. I understand people feeling like they want to vent, and a few demontrations are probably a good thing to signify the passion behind this issue. But I don't think expressions of outrage are the most productive means of changing anyone's mind. We've made a huge amount of progress in the eight years since Prop 22, and I attribute that progress primarily to gay people from all walks of life being more open and visible. Not as angry sign-waving people or folks marching in a parade, but as co-workers, as parents of school children, as fellow churchmembers, as soldiers, and in all the ways that anybody encounters their fellow citizens in our society. Just living our lives in quiet but open and unapologetic dignity does more than anything else to open our fellow citizens' eyes to the injustices in our current government policies. Some of those policies need to be explained to people (e.g., unequal tax treatment and social security benefits), but they can be explained calmly. The observation of injustice speaks for itself far more loudly than demands for justice can be shouted.

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