Monday, October 9, 2006

Seeing and Not Seeing

I'm in the middle of an online discussion with someone about the ACLU, and he had this to say:
The ACLU (read: 'Anti-Christian Liberty Union'). If they stand for Liberty, why is it that, every time they go to court, they are telling people, "You can't do that anymore!"?
Here is my reply, in full.
Oh, I think I can field this one. The reason you think the ACLU only tells people "you can't" is because the other cases won't fire up the conservative base. When the ACLU's position agrees with religious conservatives, you don't hear about it. For example:
Is a public baptism breaching the thin line separating church and state, or is it upholding the First Amendment's free speech clause? Apparently, the latter reigns true--at least for the Fredericksburg-Stafford Park Authority in Virginia. After pressure from the media and religious organizations, the authority reversed its previous policy that banned public baptisms from its Falmouth Waterfront Park's Rappahannock River. The new written policy is based on the assumption that the authority has no right to prohibit any group from engaging in an activity on public grounds, regardless of its nature. The previous policy, which was unwritten, did not allow any activity in the park without a permit. The baptism that sparked the controversy was a 30-minute ceremony on May 23 on the river. The Baptist church that hosted the event did so because the congregation did not own its own baptismal pool. While the park authority claimed the activity was illegal because of lack of a permit, several organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) disagreed. The ACLU stated the ceremony is no different than a group of people swimming in the river, or a group of people using the park for recreational purposes.<!-- D(["mb","
So the ACLU argued that the baptism SHOULD be allowed in the park, because to prohibit it would be discriminating against a group of people, specifically members of a church.
And that was my response, and I have not heard back from him, yet. I anxiously await the continuation of our discussion. But this whole issue has me thinking about seeing and not seeing what is happening right around us.

More than once, I have been asked by well-meaning straight people why all lesbians look so butch. I answer the same one each time - "you think that because you don't know that the beautiful, feminine women walking by you are also lesbian."

Here is an example that I imagine we can all relate to. What about cars? You never notice yellow Volkswagens until you buy one. Suddenly, they are everywhere.

So we see things all day but don't really see them until they hold some meaning for us. Small wonder we are so divided as a nation. Conservatives only see the "bad" that Liberals do. Liberals only see the judgement from churches. Churchgoers only see Progressives as anti-religion. And the list goes on and on.

I'm not sure the solution to this on a large scale, but I do know what I can do as an individual. I can remind myself that there is something good about everyone. Well, almost everyone. But I will err on the side of compassion and look for good in those around me. Even the people I disagree with politically or socially cannot be all bad. And I will remember that not everyone who voices an opinion I share is right on everything.

We all have blind spots in our lives, and I hope that my being aware of mine helps to minimize them.