I’m a white, straight male who lives in Wisconsin, yet I’ve been called a “faggot” — not once, but twice — for holding a disabled man’s hand as we crossed the street. I worked with another man, an ex-police officer, who talked openly of his disdain for women officers.
“When they called for help, there was an unspoken rule the other officers would wait a beat. We’d go,” he assured me. “But we’d give them a chance to figure it out themselves.”
You know, those silly women police officers always needing a man to get things done.
Several women I know have been sexually assaulted, and one statistic from my training with developmentally disabled adults always stuck with me: more than 90 percent will experience sexual abuse at some point in their lives, and nearly half will experience 10 or more abusive incidents.
A few years back I read Richard Grant’s book God’s Middle Finger: Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre, a crazy tale of adventure through a culture full of misogyny:
“What I really lost tolerance for, as I chauffeured Isidro on his rounds, met his friends, and dodged his enemies, was Mexican machismo. I came to hate it with as much venom as the most strident lesbian feminist. It was the root of the worst evil in Mexico, I decided, the real reason why men killed each other and raped women in such horrifying numbers. Not that those numbers were available. According to Mary Jordan of the Washington Post, fewer than 1 percent of rapes are reported in Mexico, because it is not treated seriously as a crime and because rape victims who do go to the police are usually mocked and blamed for inviting the crime, and are sometimes raped by the police, who get aroused hearing the victim’s story.”
My Twitter Feed is constantly full of petitions to sign and of sad stories of rape and terrible human rights’ abuses and horrific images of animal cruelty. It can be overwhelming. How does a person have compassion to go around?
I read an interesting interview in Rolling Stone with Johnny Depp, his mind as scatterbrained and overwhelmed as my Feed:
“There’s a great part of me that has deep concerns for, let’s say, the world, as everyone does. If you’re, in any way, sensitive to that stuff and you just keep taking in, taking in, taking in, you’ll drive yourself fucking nuts. You start getting into things, like – people are fighting because each one says their god is better than the other. And zillions of fucking people die. Savagely. Horribly. Innocent people. And, I mean, there’s no way – you can’t take that in as a machine and then spit it out as data that makes sense. You can’t do it. So you’ve got – you’ve got to protect – I don’t know. Protect yourself in a way, like . . .”
Still, I do believe it’s an amazing time to be alive. When the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last week, it wasn’t just the gay community that celebrated, but a large part of humanity, myself included. I have friends dissatisfied with the U.S.’s focus on social change. Jobs! they scream. The economy! But when millions of people begin to feel it’s okay to live a life they want, to be themselves and be accepted, it truly is amazing and profound and revolutionary and something special.
Twenty years before I was born, black people didn’t have full rights A few decades before that, women could not vote. Now most young people could care less about two gay men or two gay women in love. The old generation is dying off, their old ideas leaving with them to be replaced by young people and young ideas and a new baseline of acceptance. Isn’t this joyous, despite all the horrors in the world?
I’ve been working my way through various animal documentaries to complete the next stage of Vegan Movie Madness. One man, when coming to the decision to spend his life protecting whales said, “I could finally answer the question, to what end is my life lived?”
In another documentary, this one about the organic food revolution, a French family sat in a field, eating their fresh, natural lunch under the sun. “You start by saying that you should consume differently, and then it’s progressive, and it’s everything in life. It’s everything around you, not just food.”
Strong words for a documentary about food. Change your perception, and you find your whole life shifting. I became a vegan by happenstance, by practically daring my self to try it, to lose weight, to regain my life and my happiness. Six months in and on my 100th post, I think I finally can understand what it means.
It’s acceptance. Of women. Of gays. Of humanity. Of animals. It’s love for all. In the onslaught of negative stories and horror, it’s a guiding light to direct me: to what end is my life lived?
This time of change, of transformation, truly, is a great time to be alive.