Posts Tagged ‘Civil Rights’

As I write this, the U.S. is commemorating the birthday and works of the civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. A Baptist minister and advocate of peaceful protests, he drove a generation of positive change toward the betterment of all.

He was assassinated on April 4, 1968 while standing on the balcony of his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee.

Thinking of Dr. King’s legacy and how it has affected my life led me into the rabbit hole that is my mind, and reminded me of others who have fought for civil rights. Each of them has impacted me in some way, mostly indirectly, but I’m grateful for their work none-the-less.


Mohandas Gandhi led the march toward India’s independence from Britain. He was arguably the originator of large-scale nonviolent civil disobedience, a primary tactic of civil rights protests since his time. He campaigned for women’s rights, easing poverty, and ending the caste known as untouchables, among his other causes.

He was assassinated on January 30, 1948 on his way to a prayer meeting.

The first openly gay person to be elected in California, Harvey Milk became the face of the LGTBQ movement in the state and beyond. As a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, he spearheaded the passage of a stringent gay rights ordinance for the city. He also advocated for better child-care facilities, free public transportation, and a civilian commission to oversee police.

He was assassinated, along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, at City Hall on November 27, 1978.

In a world where children, minorities, and women often have no voice, Malala Yousafzai has shown us all what confident grace can really look like. An advocate for universal education and women’s rights, she began a blog about her life under the Taliban when she was a pre-teen.

On October 9, 2012 at the age of 15 she was on her school bus when it was boarded by gunmen. She was shot in the head. Miraculously she survived, and spurred on an international movement for her causes, in addition to becoming the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

All of these people have peacefully campaigned for civil rights issues. They have led by example, maintained positive messages, and promoted the best ideals humanity has to offer. And they all were shot.

What’s wrong with this picture?



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The USA has gone crazy.  Instead of dealing with the spider web that is the national economy we have a bunch of smarmy old men (and, sadly, some women) trying to tell me what to do with my own body in my own home on my own time.  Get yer fuckin’ hands off me, you perverts!

Maybe it’s just smoke and mirrors because they can’t figure out how to fix the big problems.  There are no easy answers for tax reform, job creation, deficit reduction, military spending, and all the myriad other pieces of our great economic construct, so they’re distracting us with a shock and awe campaign of homophobia, bigotry, misogynistic rhetoric, and religious fervor the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Crusades.


Here in California one of the biggest hot buttons is “gay marriage.”  A couple years ago the (slim) majority of voters said it was perfectly fine to not allow gays to marry.  A perfect example of the majority making a decision for the minority.  Sure, it happens all the time in our society, being a democratic republic, but the thing that those who oppose gay marriage don’t seem to understand is how their own (unfounded) fears have revealed their true weakness.  Fear is the mind-killer as a great philosopher once said, and the fear of that vocal majority is only showing the rest of us how small and scared and ignorant they really are.  What if they had decided that left-handed redheads weren’t allowed to marry?  Would this even be a question any more?  That same “majority” would be all over me for even suggesting such a thing.  Okay, at least publicly, but, shamefully, there are still those who would quietly applaud such legislation because they don’t think left-handed redheads are really human…

Anybody remember that whole Civil Rights thing back in the ‘60s?  You’d have thought we’d learned then.  The same basic arguments that were used to fight equal rights then are being used to fight equal rights now.  They didn’t work then, either, so wake up, would you?  Why are you wasting so much time on a non-issue?  For a group of people who appear to be so homophobic, it’s rather ironic for them to have their heads so far up their asses.

And then there’s the whole birth control issue.  I’m not even sure I can put into words how flabbergasted, frustrated, appalled and dismayed I am that this is taking up so much of our collective time.  My body, my rules, my decision.  Get over it.

The same group of people that want to run our country while railing against big government and the loss of personal freedoms wants the government to control what I do with my body.  That seems pretty intrusive to me.  I know it’s all about tax money and where it’s spent, but let’s get one thing clear:  we can’t get everything we want.  There’s this thing built into our nation’s soul from the first days – it’s called the separation of Church and State.  By forcing your ideals of marriage and birth control on me, you’re forcing your Church into my State.  There’s plenty of things I’d rather my tax dollars weren’t spent on (I worked five years at Social Services, so don’t get me started), but I accept that because there’s plenty of stuff I DO want my tax dollars paying for.  I don’t want government to take care of me, to make my decisions for me – I’ve seen and read way too many films and books that show just what can happen when they do – but I do want government to make it a level playing field for all of us.  And that means compromise.  You have to take some of the good with the bad.  Our founding fathers made us a secular nation for very good reasons, but these last few years have seen a steady attack on that.

Another real irony is these same people that say rape victims should just deal with it, or that they don’t care about poor people, or that strip funding away from health organizations who cater to a disenfranchised poor just because they might have a condom around, these same hypocrites will scream about how badly women and gays are treated in other nations.  Hello?  Anybody home?

While I’ve long been out of the genetic pool, my reproductive health is not separate from my overall health.  That’s something huge swaths of people (men in particular) haven’t seemed to figure out.  Women aren’t modular – you can’t just take us a piece at a time and solve the whole problem.  So stop trying.  In the case of birth control, I respect that there are religious differences in opinion, and I whole-heartedly accept and support a person making their own choice for themself based on their own religious beliefs.  But don’t make it for me, too.

A church (mosque, temple) is sacred space and even though this Wiccan doesn’t agree with many of them, I do support their right to make their rules within their own sacred space.  But once they’ve moved out of that sacred space and are now opening businesses to the public, offering employment to the public, lobbying for public laws, they are now subject to all the scrutiny and rules and expectations of everyone else doing the same.  That part of their organization is now secular and it is the secular law that must be followed.

Once upon a time the world was thought to be flat, and humanity was convinced destruction would be upon anyone who dared travel to the ends of the earth.  We discovered that was wrong and we survived.  Then we declared that the earth was the center of the universe, and anyone thinking otherwise was doomed to hellfire and brimstone.  We discovered that was wrong and we survived.  When trains were introduced, people were convinced that traveling that fast would crush our lungs and we’d die a horrible death.  We discovered that was wrong and we survived.  It’s impossible to break the sound barrier – wrong, survived.  There’s no way we can leave the planet – wrong, survived.  The Large Hadron Collider would create a black hole and we’d all be sucked into nothingness – wrong, survived.

Getting the idea here?

To paraphrase the immortal Bard, methinks thou dost protest too much.  The louder you scream, the greater the silence when you realize how small our world really is, and how little your religious fervor really matters in the grand scheme of things.

There are six billion ways of practicing religion, six billion ways of creating, six billion ways of loving, hating, laughing, crying.  Let each have their own way.  Let me make my decisions for myself and I’ll let you make your decisions for yourself.  Much like the thermostat in a cubicle farm, the temperature needs to be set at the point where everyone is just a little bit outside their comfort zone, instead of a majority being too cold or too warm.  The role of government is to set that thermostat.  It is up to the rest of us to put on a sweater or flip-flops in accordance with our comfort level.  Just because we use a common ground doesn’t mean we have to all take the same path.

So the next time you’re screaming at someone about gay marriage, birth control or left-handed redheads, stop and examine why.  If your self-justification begins with “I’m afraid that…,” then maybe you need to look at why what somebody else does in their own home to their own body on their own time, with no direct quantifiable affect on you, makes you afraid.  We can only control ourselves.  Trying to control others is just another exercise in futility, and I have plenty of other things to do instead.

© 2012  Cheri K. Endsley.  All Rights Reserved.

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