Looking Back, Looking Forward and Hoping
As we enter a new year, most people look to it with a kind of hope. A hope that, maybe, just maybe, things might be better.
For me, personally, however, I am not so optimistic.
2003 has not been a banner year for me; I have dealt with my own personal illness and the severity of the illness of my mother, mother-in-law and father-in-law.
The last few months alone have been very unsettling as, for some reason, fate, or whatever it is, has decided to throw the "gay" thing in everyone's face - (not saying that is a bad thing, but...) with a gay bishop, sodomy laws being overturned by the Supreme Court, and that gay marriage may not be illegal, all of which has prompted some in our community to blame that, as well as the potential destruction of society as we know it, squarely on my back. Thus, I see things and people in a much different light. Unfortunately, that light isn't a better one. Do I really have that much power?
I was, at one point in my life, optimistic that I could make some kind of difference in the world. That I could positively affect change in some way, like help make the immediate world I live in a more tolerant place.
Of course, even letter writers to this website have said I have no right to try to do so, so, hell, what is a person to do?
I was optimistic, that the world as a whole, the nation as a whole might become a more tolerant place in which to live.
But that doesn't seem to have happened.
We have George Bush and company. It seems they won't be happy in a world or nation where all people are actually equal.
They've gone so far as to actually affect change to ensure that civil liberties are being infringed on through the Patriot Act and the proposed "Patriot II."
They seem to view war as a means to an end to help their business buddies and abuse their positions to help only those to whom they are indebted.
They demean their offices.
We have a governor, whose only idea to deal with the state's budget is to balance it from revenue raised through a vice and whose wife wants to shoot a pop star because of her music.
We have the epitome of prejudice filling the seat of our state senator from District 3, who views equal protection under the law as stopping at his front door. Of course, used only when it in some way is politically expedient for him.
Then, of course, we have a Board of County Commissioners, BOCC, (sans Jan Gardner) who, when the issue of codifying state law into county laws regarding inclusion of sexual orientation (which would have prevented both the complainant and defendant from traveling to Baltimore for hearings), who sit quietly, boldly defiant of any attempts to protect a portion of their constituency.
Not to mention the off-colored, off camera comments some are said to make about "those kind" of people.
Particularly troubling are the "friends" we have who wouldn't lift a phone to make a call, a pen to write a letter or touch a keyboard to send an email to the BOCC in support of inclusion of sexual orientation as a protected class.
Additionally, trouble at church may be brewing as the "gay thing" is starting to rear its ugly head there...something which could well cause a place of solace and sanctuary to become a place of turmoil.
While I am not stupid or naive enough to think that because of the issues I have raised over the years that when these things come up, I will potentially be asked to comment on them and in most instances will because I keep on believing that if nothing is said, then only the "other side's views" will be heard.
Though, if, at any time, someone wants to take up the banner and carry on, please feel free. Or at least help.
But that is not what I am all about, though. 2003 has clearly shown me, that, though I have worked in the arts community, the air show, business and civic organizations, my church, activism for many issues, including ones in multiple city neighborhoods, many of those I come in contact with still think of me, even though it may be subconsciously, as one of "those people."
Of course, many of them show no outward signs of prejudice against me in particular, as I seem to be in some magic way absolved of the perceived sins of "those people," they do, by simply making the "those people" comments, seem to have missed the point.
"Those people," just like me, is a person, just like them.
This is not intended to be a pity party, just a reflection on what happened in 2003 and contemplation on where 2004 may be taking me.
Not all is bad here in Frederick. J.D. (my partner, not the mayor - how did that one ever get confused?) and I have some great friends, some whom you would think would not be our friends are our closest, while others you would think would be our friends, don't give us the time of day. But life is like that.
We have pretty good jobs, a decent place to live, and the comfort of knowing that we have people around us who would help us in the darkest of days, even if we do not always agree.
It is just why can't all people be like that?
As we move into 2004 with a wobbly economy, a "war" that is appearing to become seemingly endless, social justices issues looming large on the horizon, and a presidential election that could illustrate just how deep the divides have become between groups in our society.
Between the political outsiders and the political insiders, the wealthy and the economically disenfranchised, the gulfs that still exist when it comes to full equality for people of color, women and sexually oriented people, those who can afford healthcare and prescriptions and those who can not, workers and upper management, the lists can go on.
We, as we enter 2004, we may not have many options at this time to make positive change in Frederick to help move many in our community or our elected officials away from narrow-minded views that like many of our state and national leaders simply follow the path of least resistance and do that which will most benefit their key constituencies.
But, we have a possibility to affect change on the national level by making key decisions as to whom we will vote in the presidential election.
There is at least, in my judgment, one clear choice in the Democratic primary, who will be effectively able to lead this nation back to its principles of equality and justice for all, versus the current administration's policies of equality and justice for those from whom they can make the most financial gain.
However, the March 2nd primary is quickly approaching and we must get off the fence and stand up for a candidate, any candidate who will present a clear difference to President Bush come November.
The future of our country, and what we represent, is at stake.
In 2005, we can look at what needs to happen in Frederick City and in 2006, it is my hope, we can again make changes on the BOCC and in state offices, by electing people who will take into account all residents of Frederick County, not just those of whom some approve or who helped them financially to get elected.
So, maybe there is hope, maybe not.
I hope there is. I would just like to see more examples that it just might be true.