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April 20, 2015 7:27 AM

April 20, 2015 6:18 AM

A majority of Americans believe businesses should not be allowed to refuse services based on their religious beliefs in the wake of controversies in Indiana and Arkansas over gay rights and religious freedom, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found on Thursday. […] The poll found solid opposition to allowing businesses to refuse services or refuse to hire people or groups based on religious beliefs. Fifty-four percent said it was wrong for businesses to refuse services, while 28 percent said they should have that right. And 55 percent said businesses should not have the right to refuse to hire certain people or groups based on the employer’s religious beliefs, while 27 percent said businesses should have the right.

At times it can be easy to despair about the state of our collective regard (or lack of same) for our fellow human beings. It seems we don’t know how to relate to one another unless we can attach a label, allowing us to assess their relative value and worth…as judged by artificial and archaic moral codes. Whether it’s politics, ideology, religion, sexuality, or any number of artificial constructs, humans excel at finding reasons and ways to elevate themselves above others. It’s as if we don’t feel relevant and valuable unless we can denigrate and discriminate against those we’ve deemed “less than.”

Turns out that while the above is certainly true, it’s not always universally so. People also have a tremendous capacity to accept those who may differ from themselves in foundational ways. “Live and let live” seems to be alive and well. While there will always be those who need to oppress and keep others down in order to feel alive and relevant, most bipeds are willing to countenance lifestyles, religious beliefs, and even sexuality that differs from their own.

The poll, conducted April 6 to 8, also found that 52 percent of Americans support allowing same-sex couples to marry, far more than the 32 percent who oppose it.

Perhaps there’s hope for us after all, eh? There will always be those who stand on the wrong side of history- there are those who hate African-Americans to this day, believing them to be inferior beings unworthy of the rights and benefits that accrue to good, God-fearing White Christians. There will always be those who believe homosexuality to be an abomination and same-sex marriage to be the worst sort of manifestation of that sin. They’re on the wrong history, and that calculus in unlikely (perhaps even unable) to change. Nothing will change their minds, and they will go to their graves with the hearts and souls blackened and embittered by hatred. While I can feel sorry for them, they’ve made their choice.

As the snowball towards marriage equality continues to roll downhill, the momentum will only grow, causing those for whom hate is a way of life to rage ever more forcefully and desperately against the dying light. They will continue to be pushed farther outside the mainstream by events and forces they can neither dictate nor control. Forty to 50 years from now, I suspect history will regard them with the disdain we view bigots and haters from the Civil Rights struggle.

People will continue to recognize that “live and let live” is actually a pretty serviceable philosophy. Perhaps someday soon it will no longer matter who or how you love, only that you do love. That will be a great day…and I hope I live long enough to see it.

April 20, 2015 6:11 AM

April 19, 2015 5:18 AM

April 19, 2015 5:10 AM

Well, my introspective Son, you seem to being doing very well. You have a gorgeous Fiancee, a faithful cat, good friends and an outstanding Family! Of course, that is my unbiased opinion. I can tell you when I look back over 74 years it has been interesting! You learn to live with your foibles and to be understanding of others strange habits. Life is a constant mixture of good, bad, and indifferent. As you get older and wiser (I hope) you realize that we are all imperfect and the trick to having a good life is to find people who can accept us as we are, not as some wish us to be.

So it turns out that my mother, the same person who voted for Richard Nixon- twice, if memory serves- has in her later years become quite the “live and let live” closet Liberal. Or perhaps I just missed the transition given the passage of time. Whatever, it strikes me (in part because Erin has pointed it out) that Mom and I have more in common than I might have imagined. I understand where I get a lot of my ideas and my values. The older I get, the more grateful I am for those things, because they helped make me who I am today.

Something about the apple not falling far from the tree….

As I grow older, I’m learning that the things I might have worried about at one point in my life seem less important. I suppose a lot of it has to do with knowing how to pick your battles…and as time goes by, I find there are fewer battles worth fighting. Not that I’m becoming a pushover, but the lines in the sand that seemed so vital and so important in the past…well, fewer and fewer of them are inviolable. There’s something to be said for leaving a battle for another day.

I’m coming to have a greater understanding of and appreciation for the things that really are the most important- the people I love and the people who love me. I’m blessed to have a large number of both in my life, which I haven’t always allowed to be the case. I’ve reached a point where it feels OK to be vulnerable and to accept people for who they are, foibles and imperfections and all…because they accept me despite mine. As a very wise person once told me, we’re ALL f——d up…just for different reasons.

I’m grateful for the knowledge that with age (in most cases) comes wisdom…and for the people who taught me that from an early age. I may not have been willing to listen way back when, but my own advancing age has helped me to understand that perhaps the lessons my parents tried to teach me really were grounded in reality, experience, and common sense. Go figure.

I guess some lessons just take some people longer to learn.

April 19, 2015 4:59 AM

April 18, 2015 5:05 AM

April 18, 2015 4:53 AM

You’re only as old as the woman you feel.

  • Groucho Marx

I’m too young to be this damned old.

  • Garth Brooks

MINNEAPOLIS, MN- Today is my 55th birthday. I say that not because I’m looking to be inundated with Happy Birthday wishes (I can go to my Facebook page for that), but because of the opportunity for reflection it provides. Unless I’m fortunate enough to live to be 120 or more, I’ve crested the metaphorical hill and am now sliding down the back end of the actuarial bell curve. That’s not to be morbid, merely a reflection of reality. I’m very likely much closer to the end than the beginning, which is only depressing should I choose to dwell on it. I see no reason to do so today. Life is pretty damned good.

It’s been a interesting ride to get where I am…though not one I’d really care to reprise. Still, I am where I am because of that ride. If nothing else, it’s helped to give me a much greater appreciation of where I am, because it hasn’t always been thus. Two marriages, a seemingly endless parade of dysfunctional relationships, a chronic inability to love myself…all that and more has helped make me who I am today. While I’m not proud of a lot of it, if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you can’t un-burn bridges. All you can do is to make the most of where you are and try to patch up what you can.

Life is a funny thing. At 20, I had no idea what lay in front of me, and I couldn’t have possibly imagined what’s played out over the intervening years. Thirty-five years later, when I can step back and survey the landscape with the perspective of experience, I recognize that the bumps and the lessons and the joys and the pain were all part of the process to get me to where I am. The corner of the world I currently occupy- physically and emotionally- is a pretty damned sweet place to be. Everything that’s come before only serves to help me appreciate that.

Erin and I are in Minneapolis to visit my family this weekend. First, though, there’s my birthday. At 1:05pm CDT today, I’ll be sitting a few rows behind home plate watching the Minnesota Twins play Cleveland. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be today…or anyone else I’d rather share it with. It doesn’t suck to be Jack these days, and we have a very good life. And we’re just getting started.

I can hardly wait to see what the next 55 years holds for me.

April 18, 2015 4:46 AM

April 17, 2015 5:05 AM

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