So, a lot of people are putting up “Equal” signs on their Facebook page in support of the Supreme Court challenge to California’s Prop 8. Additionally, a lot of people are putting up counter arguments in support of Prop 8, effectively banning gay and lesbian couples from marrying. I don’t want to knock on anyone’s door and shove my finger in their chest, so instead, I’ll stand on my own porch and let my simple voice be heard by the birds and squirrels that care to listen.
I’m not going to argue the merits or pitfalls of homosexuality. That, for me, is really not the issue here. The issue is the difference between personal ethics and social ethics and taking a very stern look inward before determining if that line should be crossed.
Everyone has their own moral code. Morality is a very subjective and tricky thing. It is a building made up of many different materials: our upbringing, our immediate surroundings, our social and cultural living construct, our spirituality, our parents, our experiences, our lessons. They all come together to form our own unique individual morality. Some layers are flexible, others are firm. Sometimes, one layer will cause another to buckle under the right circumstances.
For instance, it could be that you have a strong moral opinion that killing is evil. I hope so, at any rate. But then, you look at another moral code; another layer in your ethical construct. Let’s say, it’s the moral obligation to protect your loved ones when facing mortal harm. Your killing=evil code may buckle under the weight of the instinct to protect your family. Let’s say it’s your culture telling you that communism must be stopped and we must sharpen our blades to make it happen. Well, of course your country is important… so maybe that killing=evil thing can slide. Put up an argument of definitions, plunk down the words murder and kill and argue the differences to allow a layer to buckle just this once. Let’s say it’s your religion telling you that another religion is evil and must be stopped. With enough indoctrination, time, and pressure, that whole killing=evil thing may seem insignificant next to the iron-clad importance of this top layer.
I’m not saying it’s right. I’m not saying that religion is evil. What I AM saying is that it is vitally important, at all times, to look inward and evaluate your moral code. To look at each layer that makes up your ethical construct and sternly evaluate why it is there, who it is affecting, and how it is affecting them.
If you are resolute in your morals and they affect nobody but yourself, I stand by you. Stand by your heart and use it to make your decisions. If your morality is built with a stronger material from religion than it is from inward reflection of your genetics or heart and you use it to override urges or feelings and thus make the choice to not engage in homosexual behavior, including marriage, then I stand by you. If your morality tells you that abortion is wrong and you use that to make your choice to not engage in abortion, then I stand by you.
Here is where things get muddled. When somebody is so absolute in their morality and ethical construct that they believe it is best for all those around them as well. When it isn’t enough to make personal choices.
The migration from individual morality to social morality is one that must be tread with utmost caution and supreme empathy.
When individual morality gets written down on paper and passed through to be legislated and upheld by law, I no longer stand by you by default. I reflect, I meditate, and I criticize. I think of the grander implications of this moral code when enforced upon people that are inherently different than me. People of different genetic makeup, different upbringing, different cultures. This is important. Legislation is broadly sweeping and each unique individual must be taken into account.
It requires strong consideration and reflection into your goals. What are you REALLY trying to accomplish with this legislation… this elevation from individual morality to mandated social morality. Don’t hide behind backdoor alleys, put yourself in the spotlight and stand proud while you reflect. Laws regarding homosexual marriage are not about them getting married, it’s about discouraging homosexuality so that it will be diminished, one step at a time. Laws regarding medicinal marijuana in specific dosages by specific professionals aren’t about caring for the sick, it’s about legalizing or decriminalizing pot, making it just a little less evil in the eyes of society, one step at a time. Put yourself in the spotlight and stand proud while you reflect. Be honest with yourself.
After you’ve reflected in earnest, ask yourself this one and only question: “Why?” Who does this harm currently that your moral code can help? Give strong consideration to the fact that their ethical construct is different than yours – built off of different spirituality, different culture, different upbringing. Consider the ramifications of trying to cram their square-shaped peg into your triangle-shaped hole. Ask yourself if that strife, that pain of transition, those inevitable tears, that resulting bloodshed is worth the intent of elevating your morality from individual to societal.
If religion is your only guiding light toward this, then I implore you to look elsewhere. Religion is a fantastic thing – truly. For building your personal moral fabric, it can be a wonderful guide. For using as your compass in dictating morals to others, it is folly. Religion is a very personal thing – it is your individual belief system. To enforce that level of code on others of different religions is only asking for pain. Anyone with any semblance of historical knowledge will be the first to tell you this. I don’t want Catholicism telling me I can’t marry another man any more than I want the Islamic faith telling me I cannot masturbate during Ramadan.
I will support any individual’s right to practice their religion and I only ask that they support my right to practice mine.
If religion is your basis for your moral elevation to legislate your beliefs, find supporting evidence. Do research. Be objective. Don’t have an answer and seek the questions that support it. Ask your question and accept the answers that fall at your feet. Find a reason to give the answer “yes” to the question of “Should my moral choice be enforced by law to everyone in the country?”
I’ll tell you this, though – it had better be a DAMNED good reason.