Pretty Good Week, Right?

Weeks like this don’t come along very often. Victory after victory after victory, with barely enough time to breathe in between, and most of them coming from a recently suspect Supreme Court.

That’s a solid string of wins for a lot of people, and everyone who views them as losses is going to be viewed by history as backward relics hanging on to barbarism (if they’re not already).  I really can’t overstate how great these four things are – the last one, in particular, is something I will never forget reading about, something I will cherish as a defining moment of a generation. Marriage equality! FINALLY!

via Time Magazine
Five out of nine Justices agree! The other four are pond scum.

Seriously, great job to everyone who fought for this, from Stonewall to today. People bled for this, please don’t ever forget that.

Does it sound like I’m leading up to a big ‘but’?

Flag of the State of Georgia
Georgia’s flag looks familiar…

Weeks like this are great, and there’s a lot to celebrate, but my fear is that the wins in these battles are so big, so earth-shattering, that they set back the rest of the war.  They take attention and momentum away from other, related battles. They drive opponents further into the trench and embolden them to fight even harder for anything they can hold on to. They make it that much harder to get with less flashy wins on even more important issues.

first national flag of the Confederate States of America
…oooh.

Great, yeah, the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia is finally being fully recognized as a symbol of horrific racism and treason, and is being pulled down and thrown on the garbage pile of history where it belongs. Even Walmart is refusing to sell it.  Of course, removing this symbol required a blood sacrifice of 9 innocents, and has become the point of focus. Not the fact that a known radical was easily able to obtain a firearm, not the fact that he was a radicalized terrorist, not the fact that an ingrained system of hatred lead to this horrific act. It was the flag that did this, and if we take it away, everything is fine!


We’ve got marriage equality now, and thousands upon thousands of people who were denied basic human rights based solely on their gender are legally entitled to those rights. But, in the meantime, there are still 27 states where you can be fired or evicted from your apartment for legally getting married to the wrong person. There are 31 states where you can be tossed out on your ear for not dressing/acting/being the person your genitals say you are.  Everyone cheered Obama schooling a heckler without a thought to the fact that said heckler was protesting the government’s horrible detention of LGBT immigrants and asylum seekers. These are issues of livelihood and shelter and freedom that are still up for debate, but now people can get married, so what more do you people want?

via National Homeless Coalition
Yeah, probably have some work to do here.

To make matters worse, the politicians that we would hope are leading the charge on these wins are simply riding their coattails.  They claim victories that they had little or nothing to do with and have actually been counterproductive toward in the past.  The very leaders we need to drive the fight forward are the same ones who would have us declare the war done.  They are, if anything, more detrimental to the fight than the vocal opponents.

These are the fights we can’t forget about. These are the issues that we need to point to and realize that the war is far from won, that there is so much work left to be done.  This was a good week. These were a lot of victories.  Don’t expect every week to be like this.

Knowing the unknowable

A friend of a friend on Facebook said “It’s an unexplainable and senseless act of violence” in regards to yet another massacre.  I really detest that sentiment.  My response was this:

No, it is explainable. We just don’t have the explanation in front of us. Saying that it’s unexplainable means we’re washing our hands of ever finding that explanation and any hope of preventing a repeat. This is not just a side effect of living in our society. This can be stopped. This doesn’t need to happen again.

We don’t know what happened in the mind of the shooter.  150 years ago we didn’t know what an electron was.  Our knowledge of concussions and repeated brain injury has increased by leaps and bounds in just the past four years.  Everything has an explanation.  We need to find it.

We need to understand and be able to avoid these tragedies from occurring.

One of the first things we can do is to stop dehumanizing the people who commit these acts.  At the point where you are ready to walk into a school or a mall or a theater or a place of worship or restaurant (to name just a few of the locations that spree-killings took place in America in 2012), you have ceased to be a rational person.  Something has broken very deep inside you.  Unfortunately, we rarely get the chance to analyze these people because most of them take their own lives in the process.   There’s a big leap between becoming so filled with despair that you end your own life, and deciding to take as many people with you as possible.  These must be two different things.  One way or another, though, viewing these people as any less than human is rather medieval thinking.  Dehumanizing them allows us to place the blame for their actions solely on their shoulders, completely absolving and ignoring whatever treatable and preventable cause pushed them to that point.  When we do that, we simply ensure that tragedies like this will continue to happen.

Adam Lanza was a person. Something inside him went terribly, terribly wrong.  Let’s not forget that he was a person.  A beautiful, unique individual with people who loved him, who are now wrapped up in the horrifying hell of being connected to what he did.  We need sympathy and compassion for everyone.