When I watched “Taking Woodstock” I realized that there was another gay son of two Holocaust Survivors who summered in the Catskills, was a virgin in 1969 and was very good at organizing. I really related to the character of Elliot Tiber, even though our parents were as different as night and day. But watching the movie brought back so many ideas and feelings that I grew up with during the 1960’s and 1970’s.
The anti-war and creative children that you would pass along the way may have considered themselves children of God; but not in an orthodox manner. As Joni Mitchell pointed out, “We were star dust trying to get back to the garden.” Religion and God were peaceful and loving concepts and our time on this earth was meant to improve things.
Instead of looking forwards to hurricanes, earthquakes, and the destruction of Israel at Armageddon bringing forth a messiah, we were striving for a more humane environmentally-sustainable future using our divinely given intelligence.
If I was hoping to meet an old friend, I would clean up my house so that he could enjoy his visit. I surely wouldn’t let things go awry so that the guest would have to clean up my mess. That is why I get so upset when right-wing politicians ignore the man-made causes of Global Climate Changes and ferment wars in the Middle East hoping to expedite the coming of their messiah. They seem to take comfort in these events as proof of a self-fulfilling prophesy of Armageddon.
For two thousand years the same negative forces have been propagating arcane religious stories that predict the imminent end of the world and in fact pray everyday for this cataclysmic event, with little thought to making this world a better for those less fortunate; which was ironically, what Jesus taught while he was alive. They are not on the forefront fighting for civil rights or increasing livable wages for workers. They seem to be more for conserving their wealth and promising others a better next life. Maybe if this life was more rewarding for everyone, then people wouldn’t need to look forward to the next one with such a passion?
I am fearful of people who are more concerned with the so-called next life then this one. And that not only includes Muslim suicide bombers, but also Christians and Jewish fanatics. I feel God wants us to find peace on earth now and to treat our neighbors like we would want them to treat us now. I am trying to enjoy my sojourn through this life and be the best person that I can be now, because I don’t believe anyone really knows what comes next.
Talk about terrorism… I am terrorized by fanatical Christians who use their translations and interpretations of their “Book of Revelations” to encourage a future based on disasters and war and most of the world going to hell. And the phenomenon of extremist Orthodox Jews wanting to expel Arabs from Israel and forcibly remove the Mosque on Dome of the Rock terrifies me as much as fanatical Muslims wanting to blow up New York City. Seeing young gay and lesbian children being shot in a counseling session is also terrifying to me.
Maybe we can learn something from the American Constitution and over 200 years of American history. Remember America is not a simple democracy; otherwise Al Gore would have become our President in 2000 after winning the popular vote. We were created as a republic that protects the rights of minorities living peacefully within a majority culture. Can you imagine a world where all countries protected minority rights? Throw in private property rights and freedom of movement with the government protecting these rights, and the results sounds better to me in contrast to ethnic cleansing.
In America, Jews can now choose to live where ever they wish as equal citizens with all rights (Equal Housing Laws) as long as they can afford the area. We can choose to live in ghettos or we can choose to be pioneers and move into new regions. Our rights are protected either way. I look forward to the day when these protections will also be extended to the entire LGBT community and other minorities under our Constitution’s equal protection clause.
When my parents bought their house in 1950, 26 out of 28 families on our block were Jewish. No one persecuted the two Christian families on each end of the block who proudly decorated their houses every year with Christmas ornaments. We even joked that their houses looked like colorful bookends. Now fifty years later, there are only four Jewish families left on the block. They live in peace and don’t feel any pressure to put out Christmas decorations. When they choose to, they can sell their houses and move to a Jewish neighborhood, a mixed neighborhood, a mostly Gentile neighborhood or a cemetery (where most of the original owners now reside). It follows the old proverb of “Live and let live”. This view was also in vogue in the 60’s.
There needs to be a mutual respect between the majority and minority groups, with the right to be yourself in public without forcing your views on others. Too often people are using the government to force their views on others while hiding behind the freedom of religion.
No one is asking the government to force a religious person to have a same-sex marriage. But there is a major push by right wing religious groups to use governmental powers to prevent others from getting married and claiming that their Biblical interpretations mandate such laws. I believe that the government should be there to protect the minority fundamental rights. But that doesn’t mean that the minorities should be able to use the government to force others to have to follow their views.
We need to work on allowing all minorities to either assimilate or isolate in peace without being coerced to change, while still making sure that the majority can remain as they want. This includes not only Jews, and gays, but Muslim minorities in Europe or even non-Jews living in Israel, or Jews living in a Palestinian nation.
Can you even imagine if one day Israel and Palestine treated their minority citizens with equal rights and respect? Where people could sell their houses if they wanted to move from one place to another? Can you imagine a place where the minorities don’t try to take over the majority and where the majority respects and doesn’t force its views on the minority? The LGBT community does not believe that you can change the sexual orientation of truly heterosexual people, and would like the same understanding when it comes to our sexual orientation. We just want to be acknowledged and accepted so that we can live happy lives as full citizens with equal rights to heterosexuals. That is different from some fanatical minorities who are trying to forcibly impose their ways over the majority of society. There are Muslim, Christian and Jewish extremists who want to remove modernity from view. Instead of turning off the television or changing the channels, they want the government to ban anything that does not conform to their views and hatreds, creating a new right to not see anything different from what they want to see. The only thing that should be banned is their hatred, and desire to censor everyone else.
I just heard of one example where a Muslim Pakistani taxi driver would go around Brooklyn with his drum to wake up fellow Muslims so that they can eat breakfast before sunrise during Ramadan. While it is his right to fast all day if he chooses, it is not his right to wake up non-believers at 4 am. every morning with his drumming. Most observant Muslims use alarm clocks or telephone calls to ensure that they are up; but a certain fringe believe that they have the right to impose their views on everyone else.
Ideally, Jews should be able to live in Arab countries as equal citizens and Arabs and Christians should be able to live in Israel similarly. People should be permitted to buy and sell houses in either country. This will create a situation where Jews can live in the Land of Palestine, while non-Jews can continue to live in Israel. Instead of ghettos, there would be neighborhoods where one group may be the predominate group, and if people do move then they would be compensated by the sale of their homes. If problems arise, people should turn the other cheek, instead of continuing the pattern of attacks and retribution. This might finally break the cycle of hatred between neighbors. I think that Jesus might actually be happier by seeing people living in peace instead of moving towards Armageddon. It isn’t really my idea. I heard about the turning the other cheek before; not only from the Woodstock generation, but from some Biblical passages.
Besides getting ideas for a better future from the U. S. Constitution, how about stretching one of the 10 Commandments by not bearing a false witness about oneself? “Honesty is the best policy” or “To thine own self be true” should be substituted for denial, lying, or the infamous “Don’t ask, don’t tell” dictum. Our society has two opposing views towards homosexuality. One side encourages children to be honest about their feelings. If one discovers that he or she is attracted to the same sex, then they should feel free to tell their parents, friends, or ministers and live a full life. In today’s world this could include falling in love and raising a family. The alternative course is to repress your true feelings and reluctantly find a mate of the other sex, without telling the truth, get married, and then pray to God to change your sexual orientation.
AIDS brought a drastic change to this pattern, because suddenly acting irresponsibly about your sexual desires meant a death sentence to you and your partner. Thus honesty became more important in a relationship. It was the dishonesty and irresponsibility that caused the spread of the disease and death; not the sexual acts. Two HIV negative people could engage in all the sexual acts that they wanted to as long as they didn’t have sex with someone who was HIV positive. But it is much more likely for HIV to spread if a man is HIV positive and keeps it hidden and fails to practice safe sex even if he is monogamous with his wife. So maybe it is a good thing to try to promote the values of open honesty instead of denial. As we began to discover in the 1960’s, sexuality and morality are as different as apples and oranges. You can be immoral and celibate or you can be moral and sexually active. Morality and sexuality are not the same thing.
Most children of all minority groups grow up with at least the support of their parents, but LGBT children generally have to go it alone. Parents should face the facts that their LGBT children have inherited a God given gene from them, and love their children and question their Biblical interpretation instead of questioning their children. That seems like real family values to me. One of God’s master plans seems to call for placing LGBT children in socially or religiously conservative families so that they can see the light. Instead of blaming the Devil or television, why not try accepting your children for who they are, and supporting changes in the law that increases their opportunities in this world? Why shouldn’t LGBT children or the heterosexual children of LGBT parents have a lesser life in a free country? Is loving someone with the same gender that terrible? Why do they compare it to things like bestiality? I do not add negative or positive values to either orientation.
The current approach of denial and lying doesn’t help the spouse or children of the closeted person as we see each time someone gets “outed”. We now see a new phenomenon, namely the heterosexual man, who lapses into secretive same-sex behavior because Jesus wasn’t listening that day, or the Devil made him do things while still calling himself a heterosexual man. It is unfair that so-called celibate priests, and monogamous evangelical television preachers, and right wing politicians are having more sexual experiences (gay or straight) than me. Maybe if they would be honest about themselves and come out, then they can have real monogamous, caring relationships with adults, instead of with children, prostitutes, or bathroom stall-mates. While encouraging a future with equal rights for all (another novel idea taken from the U. S. Constitution) divorce rates for different sex couples may decline because you won’t have so many closet-related divorces. Some closeted people are actually encouraged to lie and pretend that they are straight in response to their priests, parents and politicians. So these poor people live a life without the joy of sex and their spouses and children eventually come to learn why they’ve been cheated out of love.
Years ago people were considered odd (or worse) if they were left-handed. Now there is no stigma associated with that God given trait. We find it incredible that our ancestors made such a to-do over this ordinary generic difference. In the future I hope a LGBT person becomes as accepted as a southpaw. And for those people, who maintain that sexual orientation is a matter of choice, they should consider exploring whether they are bi-sexual. For most of us it is not possible to switch our sexual orientation. My sexual identity is one of God’s greatest gifts to me.
Many of the virulent anti-LGBT people are in fact self-hating closet gays and lesbians. These closet cases have done more political harm to the LGBT community than well adjusted heterosexual conservatives. Secure heterosexuals don’t seem to have such a fanatically zeal to discriminate against the LGBT community or throw out their LGBT children. People who are different do not threaten them.
The same seems to be true about insecure religious people who proselytize hoping to change the religious views of others, or worse, use the government to force others to behave the way they think. Government should be there to make sure that you can practice your religion while not forcing your religious views (such as demanding straight-only marriages, or jailing abortion doctors) on the rest of the society.
Personally I think that much of this conservative religious ideology is really politically motivated to manipulate people to vote against their economic best interests. Pollsters must have concluded years ago that homophobia was a good wedge issue in the minority Catholic and Evangelical and Orthodox Jewish communities. In order to feel that they are following their God, people will vote for candidates who really don’t have their best interests at heart.
I also would like to see a future where the matured values of the “1960’s Flower Power” generation come back into fashion. Many of the positive aspects of the sexual revolution need to be revived to reverse the Counter Sexual Revolution of the Regan-Bush era. I hope we don’t slip back into the head-in-the-sand, don’t-care-about-Mother Nature, sex-should-only-be-done-for-procreation values of the 1950’s.
In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, when the counter-culture was flourishing, I looked forward to a more environmentally sensitive future, with equal rights for all, the narrowing of the gap between the rich and poor, and the elimination of war as a means solving problems. I thought that there were more people sharing these ideas than the followers of the then status quo of the Dan Quayles or George Bushes. Since then I’ve wondered what happened to all those people with progressive values who wanted to fix things so a Messiah would be proud of what we accomplished, instead of looking forwards to Armageddon.
I think that when one talks of values, we should look at how the decline in real wages for the average American since the early 1970’s has created a society where full time working people can no longer afford to live or eat or go to a dentist in my city.
I dream of a future where sex or even nudity is not a major taboo in our society, and where religious fanatics do not determine our mainstream moral values. Where hatred, discrimination, war, poverty, disease, inadequate housing and unemployment are taboo, and tolerance and loving their neighbor, diplomacy before war, and repairing the earth are mainstream values. Can you imagine if President Roosevelt and the rest of the world immediately protested when Hitler escalated his hatred against the Jews and Homosexuals? Can you imagine what our world would look like today if John and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, John Lennon and the students at Kent State were not killed?
In the words of John Lennon:
Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one
Lyrics from – “ Imagine” by John Lennon.
Copyright 2007. Do not publish without written permission from the author.