I never feel a great need to argue politics because I believe politics are more about actions than words. Many many years ago I was counseled by Chippewa elder Sun Bear: "Vote for who you want to; but, plant a garden." So I am both voter and gardener. That being said, however, the results of casting my vote in America's recent election brought not only unmitigated relief and inspired hope in democratic ideals, but also introduced conflicted feelings about how victories are hard won and how the edge of victory is painfully serrated.
As happy as I am that Barack Obama was elected President, I have to admit that it did not please me at all to receive a last-minute automated telephone call from him encouraging California voters to vote for Proposition 8, the state initiative reversing the fortitude of the California Supreme Court and halting gay/lesbian marriage. If—as has been written—politicians are indeed one-eyed cats, one has to wonder with which eye Obama is viewing the future when he includes gays and lesbians in his acceptance speech even as he lobbies for their second-class citizenship? Much statistical ink has already been spilled noting that the increase in the Black-American vote that secured Obama's victory is the same vote that reversed the California Supreme Court decision to grant gays and lesbians commensurate rights in the institution of marriage. At 55, I watch the pendulum swing on this grandfather's clock with weary patience. We're here, we're queer, and we persevere. I fundamentally believe that justice will prevail even if setbacks are instituted in the name of justice.
Part of the ingratiating process of pendulumatic politics is the necessary strategy of boycotting, because in this country you have to hit them in their wallet before they will finally pay attention. It saddens me to read on indieWIRE that the Sundance Film Festival is being singled out for boycott because I do believe they have done much to further the queer cause; but, I endorse it as a nudge for the organization to move out of Utah. Wouldn't San Francisco be a perfect location for future editions of the Sundance Film Festival? Isn't it time to shift their weather from snow to fog?
Other boycotts are in place; one against the Mormon-administered Marriott Hotels, which I likewise endorse. And there are several on-line signature initiatives currently in motion. This will, undoubtedly, be one of those key issues reversed and counter-reversed through several elections until youthful acumen replaces ageold prejudices. I place my faith in the young, even as I weed my garden and prepare it for Winter.
These thoughts came into focus this morning when I read the following on the Joseph Campbell Foundation website: "The story of Obama's faith begins with his mother, Ann. Raised in the Midwest by two lapsed Christians, she lived and traveled throughout the world appreciating all religions but confessing to none. One of Ann's favorite spiritual texts was Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth, a set of PBS interviews with Bill Moyers that traces the common themes of religion and mythology, Obama's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, tells Newsweek. When the family lived in Indonesia, Ann, on occasion, would take the children to Catholic mass; after returning to Hawaii, they would celebrate Easter and Christmas at United Church of Christ congregations. Ann later went back to Indonesia with Maya, and when Obama visited, they would take him to Borobudur, one of the largest Buddhist temples in the world. Later, while working in India, Ann lived for a time in a Buddhist monastery."
Though Joseph Campbell himself came under fire from Christian theologian Martin Buber for seeking to compare Christianity with the other religions of the world, there is perhaps no greater effective politic to counter the ill-advised alignment of church and state; any church, any state. I hope that Barack Obama recapitulates his—perhaps—politically strategic endorsement of Proposition 8 to recognize the hurt and the harm it has done. Time will tell, as it often does in any individual's spiritual progression. Hopefully, as with any individual, his spiritual journey is a non-ending evolution.
Another loss for me in this political campaign was that of an endeared aunt who sent me one of the most racist, religiously intolerant emails I've ever received, and who—when questioned about such hateful advocacy—responded by calling me small-minded. I'm too old to obediently grant respect where it is not due and—as I weed my garden for Winter—recognize that there are no small minds, only small actions. I dedicate this entry to her.
The work continues.