As a little kid living in northern Illinois, I can still remember the blizzard of 1967. Snow forts, no school, the list of upsides goes on and on. So you can imagine my terror when I heard the grown-ups calling it a 100-year storm. What? I want another one! I’m going to have to wait 100-years? A big fan of the Weather Channel, I now understand the phrase stems from statistical models, not the literal wait. What hasn’t changed is what happens after a big storm. Snow, flood, fire, hurricane or tornado…it’s all the same. We get up. We dig out. We rebuild and get back to the nitty-gritty business of living our lives.
In the last century, four of the worst storms occurred between 1900 (Galveston) and 1959 (Typhoon Vera). The last five occurred between 1991 and 1998. Contrary to my childhood fear of never seeing another 100-year storm, intervals are shrinking fast. Like it or not, the cycle of ‘getting up, digging out and going on‘ has picked up speed. Whether you live in Phoenix, the Midwest or on the Jersey shore, climate change is no longer the theoretical subject of Science Channel documentaries. All you need to do is walk out your front door and experience it for yourself.
In the U.S. this week, climate change was markedly constitutional as the Supreme Court dealt with affirmative action, voting rights and same-sex marriage. The U.S. Senate passed sweeping Immigration reforms. Labor law shifted with New York City now requiring businesses to grant sick days to their workers. Paula Deen was being lampooned for things she said decades ago. Alec Baldwin continued shooting off his tweets and the George Zimmerman trial in Florida dominated daytime TV viewing. Meanwhile, in other news, womens rights were being ambushed in state capitals all over the country.
But not all ambushes are equal, silent or successful. Case-in-Point was Democratic Senator Wendy Davis who took to the floor of the Texas legislature in her now famous pink tennis shoes and began what she hoped would be a nearly 13 hour filibuster of an abortion bill. Not alone, large crowds of like-minded supporters flocked to the state house to flex their support of her advocacy of their concerns about big government intruding on intensely personal and agonizing decisions women, the people that love them and their physicians are confronted with. In the span of just a few hours, Twitter and Youtube ‘blew up’ as the world tuned in to watch Texan legislators in ‘real time’. People want to know. Who is calling the shots in my life?
Governor Rick Perry (TX), flustered at the ground swell of opposition thwarting his agenda announced he was calling another special session of the Texas legislature to convene on July 1st while chastising Ms. Davis for not learning better lessons from her own life. How gracious of him to offer his assessment. Davis and her supporters are undaunted. So too are advocates in Kansas, Florida, Indiana and the Carolinas. What are all of them doing? Getting up, digging out and going on.
Now to the 800-pound guerrilla in my room. While Rick and I celebrated the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions which sent Prop 8 (CA) back to the lower court while declaring the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, my elation was tempered.
I’ll be honest, I never thought I would see marriage equality in my lifetime. And as gratifying as it is to have the federal government recognize marriage for its dignity and merit, it means nothing to my life in Illinois. It was like getting invited to a birthday party as long as I stayed outside, looking in through the window. Cake anyone?
I recognize the Courts struggle as it wrestled with the equal protection clauses in the Constitution. And yes, its subsequent decision(s) reduced the vast divide between the classes in a heartbeat. I congratulate so many of my fellow citizens who can now see their lives fully recognized in the places where they live. Further, I continue in my sincere belief the fabric of Society, any society, is strengthened when the loving primary relationships of her Citizens are recognized. If I lived in a state where marriage was open to me, I would do it in a heartbeat.
But here’s the rub.
As ground-breaking as the Courts decisions were, what if I were married with all the rights and responsibilities associated with it and then, was transferred (or retired) to a state whose laws currently prohibit me from marrying? In simple terms, I would instantly and magically be converted back to ‘un-married’ for doing nothing more than driving across a state line. How is that even remotely American? Equality?
So what do I do? I rest for a minute and take in the moment. Then, moment taken, I get back to doing my part to help marriage equality measures pass in the Illinois legislature this coming Fall. I recommit to living my Life responsibly, in the open and right next to the lives my neighbors are building. I can empathize with immigrants wanting the same kind of freedom to live fully.
For all the gains they made, Bobby Kennedy, Golda Meir, Martin Luther King, Susan B. Anthony, Nelson Mandella, Gloria Steinem and Lech Walesa each recognized their hard-won victories as significant. I would suggest that each of them also recognized their wins as mile posts on the way to a larger destination. To their credit, recognizing the real work was still ahead of them, each of them redoubled their efforts. They refused to settle for less-than. They stood up. And as so often has been the case since the beginning of history, they were ready to give their lives for what they believed. Some of them did.
America was born of revolution. It did not end with Cornwallis’ calling in sick and sending someone else to surrender at Yorktown (Oct. 19, 1781). It did not end in 1812. It did not end with the Civil War. It did not end with women getting the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment (Aug. 18, 1920). It did not end with the passage of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Jul. 2, 1964) and it certainly did not end on June 26th, 2013 with the Supreme Court’s decisions.
Democracy is messy. It was designed to be so. Judging from all the noise and opinion rippling out from the Justices decisions, America’s grand experiment is alive and well. Building a living, breathing democracy is not easy. And yes, sometimes Washington DC seems so far away it seems immune to what ‘We, The People’ really need. Maybe it has always has been.
Instead, I would propose something much simpler each of us can do at the local level that is each of us.
Whatever your cause, if you think you’re worth it, then act like it. Whether the venue is your own kitchen table, your work place or the national stage, no one – not your kids, your grocer or your boss is going to recognize your worth if you don’t do it first.
Many have come and died before us to keep us free. Much blood has ironically been spent working out the kinks of non-violent social discourse. We are no more or less like any generation before us in having to wrestle with climate change in any of its forms. We are the human link in everything America has been in the past and what it will be in the future. Yes, as a People, we still have a long way to go on so many fronts…much to talk about. But the good news is if we take our responsibilities seriously, better things are waiting for those that come behind us.
Climates change. The world is watching. I’m encouraged to see ‘We, The People’, getting up, figuring things out and getting on with the business of creating a more perfect Union. If we can only manage to love one another as we do it, the next 100-years looks sunny and bright for the young ones coming after us. Our time will connect to theirs.
Long live the Revolution!
Cloud Atlas (2012)
I’d been waiting for this one on Red Box. Stellar cast. The story takes some settling in the beginning of the flick, but do it. So I let it ride for awhile and before I knew it, I was on the edge of my seat. Without realizing it (at first), the story really got me thinking about my choices (here and now). Warner Bros says “Cloud Atlas is an exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.”
172 min – Adventure | Drama | Sci-Fi – 26 October 2012 (USA) 7.7 Your rating: -/10 Ratings: 7.7/10 from 144,957 users Metascore: 55/100 Reviews: 597 user | 425 critic | 45 from Metacritic.comSOURCES: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1371111/ and http://www.davidbelbin.com/2013/02/cloud-atlas/
PHOTO CREDITS and ATTRIBUTIONS: Banner Coastal Redwood Forest by Eric E Photography is used with permission. Visit Eric and see his other work at: http://www.ericephoto.com or http://ericephoto.wordpress.com/
1967 Chicago Blizzard Photo (Tribune Archive photo): http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/chi-chicagodays-1967blizzard-story,0,1032940.story; The 20th Century’s Worst Storms: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/savageplanet/02storms/02worststorms/worststorms.html; The Great Chicago Blizzard (1967): http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/chi-chicagodays-1967blizzard-story,0,1032940.story; Modern-Noahs-Ark by John Ditchburn: http://www.inkcinct.com.au/web-pages/cartoons/past/2006/2006-424-modern-Noahs-Ark.jpg; wendy-davis-holds-up-two-fingers-to-signal-a-no-vote-as-the-session-she-tried-to-filibuster-draws: http://theweek.com/article/index/246188/wendy-davis-five-interesting-facts-about-the-lefts-filibuster-hero ; War on Women: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_Women – Graphic Source is: Guttmacher_Abortion_Restrictions.SVG: http://www.guttmacher.org/graphics/2012/01/03/restrictions2012.gif; gay-marriage-cartoon-morin: http://blogs.denverpost.com/opinion/2013/03/27/cartoons-of-the-day-gay-marriage-and-the-supreme-court/35863/gay-marriage-cartoon-morin/; boy-lost-in-thought (© 2011 Hans Knikman – All rights reserved): http://knikmanav.photoshelter.com/image/I0000i8e3EOkn9UE – Author’s Note: Hans Knikman is the owner of KnikmanAV. Originally he was trained in geography, art history and archeology and ICT. After a period as a trainer, consultant and manager he followed his life long interest in the visual media and started KnikmanAV. He got his professional training in this field at the Media Academy – the trainings institute of the Dutch broadcast industry – and several other institutes. KnikmanAV is based in Leiderdorp, The Netherlands (http://www.knikmanav.nl/); cornwallis1full – Surrender of Cornwallis by J. Baillis, New York: 1845 Hand-colored lithograph 10 x 14 inches, overall: http://www.georgeglazer.com/archives/prints/military/cornwallis1.html ; California Demonstrators NBC news (Robert Galbraith /Reuters file): http://www.nbcnews.com/id/30890938/ns/us_news-life/t/calif-high-court-set-rule-gay-marriage/#.Uc_UvjvVB8E; Texas Capitol rotunda filled with protesters: http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/26/tech/social-media/texas-filibuster-twitter/index.html (@TMFtx #txlege #sb5 pic.twitter.com/ZlvuxopjwJ); Cover to The New Yorker, July 8 & 15, 2013, by Jack Hunter (Bert and Ernie): http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/06/new-yorker-cover-bert-ernie-gay-marriage.html and Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-dameron/bert-and-ernie-new-yorker-cover_b_3518768.html – Author’s Note: I have too much respect for the Children’s Television Workshop to not include their statement (August 11, 2011) shortly after gay marriage was legalized in the state of New York: “Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics… they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.” Even though both characters are puppets and do not exist below the waist, the author would like to think that if the two could, each would be among the first to RSVP when Illinois recognizes my right to marry.
If You Want To Read More About It:
Justices Wrap Up Term With Blockbuster Week of Supreme Court Decisions (ANALYSIS) AIR DATE: June 28, 2013: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/law/jan-june13/scotus_06-28.html
War on Women: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_Women; Abortion Restrictions; http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_OAL.pdf; http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/26/tech/social-media/texas-filibuster-twitter/index.html and http://theweek.com/article/index/245534/the-war-on-women-is-back
Multiple Sources on the U.S. Supreme Court and Gay Marriage: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/supreme-court-gay-marriage
An essay on the foundations of scriptural objections to gays in the church: https://dan4kent.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/bully-pulpit/
“Freedom! – is the fatuous jingle of our civilization, but only those deprived of it, have the barest inkling what the stuff actually is.”
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
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