The Foundation of Equality
December 13, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Sometimes a person becomes, as Agnes likes to say, “bigger than they should be.” Sometimes the definition of how a thing goes – or doesn’t go – seems to encompass more than the relationship itself. Instead, it’s tendrils and roots reach out and they touch all kinds of things: work, creative ability, the ability to communication – the ability to keep moving forward. And, when that kind of dysfunction comes – from a person, in particular – there are questions to be asked, and decisions to be made.
Who am I?
What is my point – here?
What is it that I want to do with who I am, and the abilities that have been given to me?
With them, comes another set -
Who are they?
What is their point – here?
What is it that they want to do with who they are, and the abilities that have been given to them?
These kinds of questions have to be asked in all kinds of situations – mother to son, husband to wife, girlfriend to boyfriend – friend to friend. Sibling to sibling.
This is the foundation – the cornerstone, and the basic building blocks of equality. It’s the belief that a person – any person – has choices. And, it is those choices that shape reality, even if the reality of our relationship with them, through their choices, becomes something we don’t like. I’ve found that, whether it’s a person’s son or neighbor or fiance – or the Ugandan woman sitting across the room with a polygamous husband, and AIDS showing up in pock marks on her face – each of us, equally, has the innate right to choose:
What is it that I want to do with who I am?
What is it that I want to do with the abilities that have been given to me?
Perhaps the essence of bitterness at a person who disappoints us – by choosing not to love us, not to love themselves – or, perhaps, simply to love and live differently, is a lack of belief in quality.
My friend Elizabeth pointed this out in a long phone call Sunday night – if one is to live, and to work, with people who have not been given the opportunity to speak, and to make choices, one must be a person committed to equality at all costs.
Even if that cost is their own happiness, for a time.
And so, I’d like to stand for the belief in equality, even when it costs me. I’d like to say that I believe in the choices of others – even when I would have chosen differently, or done something different – had I been that person, with the abilities given to them.
I believe that they have the right to choose – to live, and to love, and to act as they choose.
And, I’ll stand in that belief. I’ll stand tall, and I will stand by their choice. Even when their choice isn’t what mine would have been.
It’s in that reality that I will be, as the Ugandans like to say – “very fine.”
“And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.I want to repeat one word for you:
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”