When We Rise: Struggles Within
February 28, 2017
After watching the first episode of the television epic When_We_Rise on ABC, I reconsidered my own strength in the struggle within. Was I even a part of the fight against homophobia and the rise of women’s rights in the early 60s and 70s? I pressed through those times, living in NYC, as if the fight was already behind me. I never stood up and screamed from the rafters or a float or a podium that I was gay and deserved equality. Today, I have to ask myself why.
I know with certainty that my own inner struggle with religion and being gay was at the top of the list of reasons. At some points, when many of my friends were dying around me from AIDS-related diseases and no one from the government cared, I turned a blind eye to those painful times when a policeman could arrest a man or woman for being gay. I’m shaking my head now and really reconsidering how I could have been more effective as a human being, helping my gay brothers and sisters in their movement toward equality.
I am a skeleton of relationships with no flesh. If intelligence makes the man, why have I made the same mistakes for over twenty years concerning relationship, concerning God?
I looked at most of my life as an impending tsunami. I put up walls around myself for protection and let nothing in or out without two forms of identification, a lifeboat, and a safe exit.
Now, I wonder if life is more like a delicate equation, with all of its fundamental subtleties changing the very substance of who I am—moment by moment!
Continue reading below.
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Continued from Above:
Ultimately, when you don’t have your own inner struggles, anxieties, and physical health under control, it is an impossibility to fight for others in an effective way. I have spent the majority of my adult life looking back and making reparation from my broken past. However, one has to wonder if clearing our own consciousness is ever enough.
I walk away from these nostalgic thoughts feeling empty and helpless, even though I see a new world of opportunity and change around me—one I didn’t much participate in to fully enjoy the victories.
I’m getting married to a man next month because of the strong and unquenchable desire for change in millions of gay people around the globe. Do I actually deserve this right when I didn’t go to battle as they did? The most I ever did in the early days was scoff from the roadside at NYC Gay Pride as I watched the floats with half-naked men and drag queens waving flags and taking a strong stand. I thought, these people don’t represent me at all! I judged them as being flagrantly immoral and bawdy. My self-righteous contempt kept me from joining their political stand for the freedom to express as powerfully and as naked as they wanted.
When_we_rise from the depths of our own prejudices—from those people who are like us but different—we can begin to see that our inequality is as deep.
I can look at life from both sides now, because I have lived my life as a Pentecostal minister condemning gays and also have stood up in front of city government officials and testified about getting fired from a job for being gay. I remember both sides and wonder if both still exist somewhere within.
I’m not angry at myself. However, I’m a lot pissed off at the world that can’t see through my eyes. I want the gay antagonists of the world to be compassionate and empathetic enough to see the struggle that still exists today. Yet, I find myself beating my head against the wall when it comes to understanding how the right-winged side of the U.S. can be so undemocratic. Wikipedia describes democracy as having:
Four key elements: (a) A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections; (b) The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; (c) Protection of the human rights of all citizens, and (d) A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.
As understated as this all seems, democracy is rather simple in its premise. All anyone wants in this world is the right to live a life with equality, where the law protects all of us, not just the ones who act like us.
When we rise, if we rise from this imbalance, we shall rise to the place of no judgment at all—not for ourselves, not for others. This doesn’t mean we won’t stand up and fight when being stripped of our inalienable rights. No, not at all.
We will fight harder, because we have left behind our self-righteous baggage. We will fight for others, not just ourselves, because we are healed from the past. We will stand in the gap when a handicapped man or woman can’t stand up at all, because we recognize that we must give back without considering what we will take. We will rise, yes, we will rise and make a different world—a better world—a world where every man and woman, no matter the color, race, religion, or sexuality—all have equal rights.
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You don’t get to this voice if reason or recognize it unless you spend time with yourself in silence, asking yourself important self-talk questions. This is like dating. You must get to know the voice of the Spirit by spending time in meditation and silence. This is the only I know to clearly download the power of wisdom and recognize the voice—IN TIMES OF TRAUMA—that is always directing YOU into safety!