(Please note, the views of this blog post are my own and may not reflect the views of my fellow bloggers. It says “Different” in the name for a reason!)
I keep telling myself “It won’t be the end of the world if Romney wins the election.” It simply feels like it will be. I think of all the gains for gay rights, for women, for the poor, elderly and disabled and I shudder to think what 4 years of someone with a cabinet that wants to take us back to the Dark Ages could do.
Then I remember hearing Bishop Desmond Tutu speak. Bishop Desmond Tutu came to speak at an Episcopalian church in Hartford, CT when I was living in the area in the early 1980’s. This was the Dark Ages of apartheid. Anger was my main reaction to South Africa. The church I attended, a Congregationalist church in Windsor, CT, had taken in a family that had been driven out of South Africa by the apartheid government. The family, white, arrived in the US with post traumatic stress disorder. We donated a coffee table and end table to their new home. The mother of the family, a beautiful young woman, always seemed dazed and quiet. I was told she had been brutally raped and beaten while in jail by her guards. Her family simply had committed the crime of trying to help their black neighbors in their struggle for equal rights.
Bishop Desmond Tutu was in Hartford not to give a speech. He was really there to visit his daughter who was attending college in the US. Still, going to hear him speak, was something I needed to do after meeting the South African family that our church was sponsoring. I expected a militant speech about how horrible apartheid was and how we should all work even harder to end it. I myself was ready to give a rant about a government that considered rape and torture of a prisoner just part of what she deserved. I was filled with hate and anger, justified hate and anger.
I sat in the church pew, and Bishop Tutu got up to speak. What he said that day changed my life. I don’t think there are many people capable of changing lives just by giving a speech, but Bishop Tutu is one of those people. He taught me not to hate, but to feel sorry, for people clinging to the past. He also taught me why this was far better for everyone than keeping that hate alive once change had been made.
He started out saying he was very “Sorry” for the government of South Africa. They knew they were going to lose. They fought the change that was inevitable, because they were afraid of that change. He spoke without anger, without bitterness, but only with pity for the government that was resisting change. Now Bishop Tutu, I am sure, knew many more stories of the hatred and violence of the current government, but he was looking at the big picture. He was looking toward a South Africa that was not based on revenge for all those injustices and evils. He was looking at a South Africa of peace, where those differences could be worked out and fairness given to both sides. It would seem to make sense on a personal justice and revenge level to take away all the land and businesses owned by white South Africans. Whether a white person had been instrumental in an injustice or not, weren’t they all guilty for just tolerating and benefiting from the system? Bishop Tutu saw that this was not what was going to make life fair for all South Africans. He spoke about peace, about the need to overcome the anger and hatred, the need to focus on a South Africa of peace. That meant, living with the horrors that had been committed and those that had committed them, because revenge was a game that went back and forth until everyone ended up a loser. Bishop Tutu looked to South Africa as a whole, knowing that sacrifice often meant, moving on without looking back.
Still, the focus of his speech was that we must indeed keep working to end apartheid, but we must also know the motives of those that were perpetuating it. They acted out of fear, and it was with great joy he spoke that they had already lost. That their time was up, and that they knew it.
I look at the Republican leaders, and the tea baggers, and see the same fear. They have lost. The America they dreamed of, gay bashing, women in their place and white leadership, is gone. This is the last hurrah. Already leading Republicans complain of the party being too white, too old and too fat. They know, without including Hispanics, Blacks, those of non-European descent, they are doomed to lose election after election in the future. The party almost nominated someone totally unable to win the election. Instead, they settled for Romney, someone that could possibly win. Even Rush Limbaugh, the Republican radio host who is “not afraid” to tell the “truth” has settled for Romney only because it’s so important to “get Obama out.”
But why is it so important to get Obama out? Because he is the embodiment of their fears. A black man in the White House. He supports gays in the military, equal pay for women, and other liberal values. If elected, will Romney drive gays out of the military? Certianly not. The best he can hope for is a return to “don’t ask don’t tell”. It’s too late, as most gays in the military have “come out” in a very open way. The kicking out of those already serving would be something the military would not support. My own husband, who served in the military, said “There have always been gays in the military. Probably George Washington had a gay aide. I never had an issue with it, and I was proud to serve with gays.”
How about women? IF every woman, in every job, was told to “go home and have babies” the result would be the shut down of the United States of America. One nut job on the radio said it would “cure unemployment” if women with young children all stayed home. No, we’d have to allow massive immigration to fill all the empty jobs. A nation of Duggars we are not.
The changes the Republicans hope to make, are simply turning back the clock. It won’t work. I have to admit I still am worried about four years and Supreme Court appointments by a Republican president. I also see that this current campaign is one of fear. The sad part is that like apartheid, the days of gays being imprisoned and women being denied work as they have young children they “should” be taking care of, are gone. Reality says the Republican agenda can not be implemented.
Another thought was that this fear is based on ignorance. When my husband attended the Naval Academy, women were new. There was great prejudice against them, balanced by the fact that the superintendent’s daughter was attending. A study showed that while the men attending overall were upset with women at the Academy, everyone claimed that the women in their group were “all right”. They liked the women they knew. Those women could stay, they were good ones. Time was thought to be the cure to the prejudice, and though women at the military academies still have to face much prejudice, the question of whether they can still be admitted or not is over. They are there to stay.
If Romney wins, he’ll find that when he implements discrimination against gays, women or other groups, the country will not be behind him. When he cuts off funding to Planned Parenthood, people will step up and fund it. It’s not going away. If he tries to ban abortion, horrible as it is, the same things that made abortion legal in the first place will make it legal again. It just takes your daughter or the daughter of someone you know to die, to change your mind. It just takes your gay son, or cousin or that nice guy that owns your favorite restaurant, being arrested or denied rights, for a person to change their mind. Simply watching the show “Modern Family” has changed minds about gay parenting. The America Romney romantisizes didn’t have “Modern Family” on television.
Equally sad, in these tough economic times, statistics show Obama should lose the election. Across Europe, reaction to the poor economy and economic choices by governments, have lead to major shifts in governments. If the Republicans had nominated a person with a moderate, acceptable, realistic social policy, the election might not even be close. I should also put in “likable”. Even the Republicans are running advertising saying how “nice” Obama is, but “nice” isn’t enough. To admit your candidate is not as likable as his opponent is pretty sad.
I feel sorry for the tea baggers. I feel sorry for the white, old and fat that support them. Voting for Romney because you fear Obama (and what he stands for) isn’t much of a platform. America is made up of the non-white, non-Christian, and non-straight these days. Their ranks are growing. Sadly, what we will have to endure if Romney is elected will be horrible. But he can’t change the demographics of the United States, and he has, as have the Republicans, already lost.
As for South Africa, change did indeed come. While things are not perfect, the horrors of other nations that left colonial rule has not occurred. Whites still are the primary wealthy group, but blacks have secured rights, and education is seen as the key to permanent change. Whites live without fear, and legislation is in place to see that jobs go to people of all colors. Universal health care is in place, and there is even unrest from people from other nations trying to get into South Africa illegally as there are more and better jobs. It’s a nation that is still changing, but each generation is reflective of that change. I recent saw a home made video of a South African tradition has a “black guy” that pops on. That would never have happened when I heard Bishop Tutu speak. My own daughter, then just a few years old, is now married to a South African. At her wedding in South Africa there was an interracial couple, and a gay couple. No one minded, though I’m sure a few of the old, white and fat group grumbled in their heads. Change happens, fear of change can’t keep it from happening.
Still to be SAFE, let’s all be sure to vote Obama in the next election. Even those of us that are fat, old and white Republicans!
- Celebrity Peak: Bishop Desmond Tutu – Walking the Path of Destiny (chickenscratchinnovations.wordpress.com)