Friday, June 26, 2009

I'd say Sanford and Sin, but its been taken a gazillion times over already

(Saturday morning revision: Now that Sanford has likened himself to King David, I have lost all sympathy I might have had for him. I still think the following is worth pondering, but he can go fuck himself now as far as I'm concerned.)

About 3 years ago I was introduced to a series of books by Jacqueline Carey that have come to be known as Kushiel’s Legacy. It’s stories that are right up my alley that integrate alternate history, fantasy and open sexuality. The book pictured above is the latest in the series and I'm guessing the beginning of a third trilogy.

Without going into a lot of detail, the basic tenet of the religion that is followed by the main characters in the first two trilogies is “Love As Thou Wilt” It is a commandment to follow your heart, because wisdom and truth are found in even the most harsh explorations of one’s own expression of love and sexuality.

These words struck me hard when I first read them, touching a place deep within where I long to live. It’s a philosophy that in many ways I have always admired and aspired to, though I don’t know that I’ve ever really followed it very well, at least not until the last few years and even then not as strongly as I like. Still…I try.

It is how, more and more, I view the world each day.

I’ve watched with a mix of sorrow and glee as one by one more of our political leaders confess to infidelities of one type or another. I mostly feel glee when I watch it coming from sanctimonious Republicans like Vitter, Ensign and especially Craig It amuses me to watch them confess their sins and yet refuse to take the consequences they insisted Bill Clinton suffer over a decade ago. They never seem to learn. They never show an ounce of humility or real shame. They never take the responsibility they insist the rest of the world take. Instead they shamelessly continue on their path of judgment and hypocrisy as if they’ve actually atoned for their “sin”. Elliot Spitzer had the good sense and grace to resign at least. Maybe if John Edwards shuts up long enough he might redeem his behavior too.

And there was Governor Mark Sanford on Wednesday.

I watched with tremendous discomfort as the man, realizing the jig was up, attempted to air his demons and face his laundry in a long, rambling, confused press conference. He struck me as sincere, lost, and vulnerable. Yes, still hypocritical. He’s not resigning as he insisted others do, but here’s the difference I see.

Unlike Vitter, who went to prostitutes, or Ensign who was just plain cheating or Craig who was seeking a thrill in a bathroom with a man after a career of condemning homosexuals, Mark Sanford seems to be genuinely and quite deeply in love.

This doesn’t excuse the fact that he appears to have used taxpayer money to see his lover, or that he abandoned his post for 5 days, or that he spent Father’s Day away from his four young sons to be with his girlfriend (as a dad I find this particularly infuriating), but it does give me some sense of sympathy for the guy, a sense of his pain.

So many of us get so caught up in dogma of one kind or another, be it religious or political, that we start making sure we behave in ways we feel we should, rather than accepting what we are. Watching Sanford, I saw a man who was genuinely struggling with that very thing. He felt genuine guilt for his irresponsibility, but we know from his emails how deeply he feels for this woman in Argentina.

No one who has ever loved so deeply should judge that or hold hit against him. No one who has ever felt the pain of a love that is limited by circumstance should hold such a thing against him.

Love as thou wilt.

There is a very good book that was made into an HBO movie, Empire Falls. Toward the end, there is a scene between father and daughter. The daughter is lamenting that she didn’t love a boy who ended up going on a shooting rampage in her school, because perhaps it might have prevented the tragedy. Her father, played by Ed Harris responds “You can train your mind and you can learn from experience and that's what growing up is. And you can take responsibility for your actions. But you can't make your heart behave. Take it from one who knows. You will love who you love. Don't ever apologize for that. Don't ever feel you have to.”

He may feel regret for hurting his family, or letting down his friends, those are things to apologize for, but maybe we hold unreasonable expectations for how we love.

Maybe in addition to calling the man to task for shirking his responsibilities we can stop covering the nonsense of his affair and stick to the real issues. I don’t care what any politician does with their private life. It's not our business, unless they are committing crimes.

Obviously, if you know me at all, I’m not a fan of his politics, but that’s not my point today.

I hope that one day we all find ways to be truer to our hearts and to avoid the rigid dogmas that keep us from loving as we do. I hope that this experience will inspire Sanford to rethink his own views on the world and also figure out what he needs to do for his own sake as well as for his family’s and his lover’s.

He ought to resign, not just because of his own remarks and that he’s demonstrated gross irresponsibility, but also because he needs to figure his heart out.. I hope he’s honest with himself; otherwise he will never be honest with South Carolina.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

UnCivil DisUnion

This entry is filled with links. So be ready to do much reading or save til later when you have time and patience. Also its about 10 hours later than I intended it since I lost track of time and had to run to we go:

Yesterday I started writing again after weeks of writer's block..

Well, that's not entirely accurate. Writer's Block suggests having no thoughts to write. What I had were plenty of thoughts and no desire to sit down and write. The problem with writing is you have to write.

Getting wind of James Coleman's blog by way of his stepdaughter's tweets seem to have roused me out of my stupor.

It helps that is stepdaughter is someone I'm a big fan of, but in the end it was a good clear statement of what isn't pleasing about the new President and the direction this country does not seem to be going in that made me feel like scribbling again. goes.

Another great disappointment so far in the Obama administration is his near silence and then confusing statements about Don't Ask Don't Tell. I've already blogged on this so I won't elaborate further on it except to say we have lost over 15,000 soldiers in the past few years because of who they love and not how well they serve their country. This is treasonous as far as I'm concerned. And if the policy is "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", why is the military establishment investigating to find out who among them is gay and who isn't. Oh I get it, that's not asking, that's guess that's ok then.

Now on to the bit I have to say on "Gay Marriage"

This will likely piss a few people off, but the fact is I think we ought to take marriage off the books for everyone. Period.

Civil Unions are only available in a few states but it ought to be in every state. This entry explains why for now, Marriage is preferable, which makes sense, but were this country in my benevolent dictatorship (as it should be) here's how it would work;

Marriage is none of the governments motherfucking business. Marriage itself was originally only a contract about property that involved mating and dowry. Its only in the last couple of hundred years that marriage has become more about love than property and that's been an evolution of sorts. And since the state has no business declaring love, it simply ought to stay out of the complications of love.

Civil Unions are simple legal contracts between 2 (or more as far as I am concerned, why are we limiting adults from the number of people they choose to love and commit to?) consenting adults regarding property, financial and life and death decisions etc. The business end. Who has a right to be claimed on insurance policies, who has visitation and informational rights in case of hospitalizations etc. All this would be covered in a civil union.

Like marriages are currently, each state would have its own peculiarities, but each state would recognize any civil union. In the world we live in, this is not the case. For instance Georgia has specifically stated it will not recognize civil unions from Vermont (What was that about small government not intruding on people's lives?). That would not be the case under the United States of John.

Alright, so basically what I'm saying is simply replace the word Marriage with the two words Civil Union and leave Marriage to the church, synagogue, mosque, healing circle, yellow brick road or whatever form you choose to make a ritualistic commitment with.

It's your life, its your heart, not theirs.

Prop 8 is a travesty. How a group gets to vote out the rights of another group in this country, with this constitution, not to mention California's constitution.

In our Declaration of Independence, it is stated that our most unalienable right is the Right of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. So while that phrase is not in the Constitution, it is certainly implied in the Founder's Intent...since you know....they SAID IT.

Anyway, Obama has stated that he supports civil unions and not gay's a thing he can think about while he is backing away from campaigning against Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Its a shame and an outrage and I hope Rachel Maddow continues to bring it up on her show.

Some people have asked me why I, a straight man in my 40s, unmarried, is so pissed the hell off about this.

Well, first of all, it always starts off with a minority, and then definitions shift...Gays on day one...blacks on day two, Jews next, then Catholics and oh yes..Muslims, etc etc.

When I was a kid in some parts of this country you couldn't vote if you were black and if GOD FORBID you want to marry someone of another race.

We just started expanding rights in relatively recent history. Its a little soon for restricting them again.

Every right that is taken away from a group is taken away from all of us, whether we realize it or not.

Life, Liberty and the Purfuit of Happineff. It's for everyone, not just us straight white guys.

As a side note; Thanks Eliza, for posting about your stepdad, your mom, Uganda, Prop 8 and all the fun projects you are doing. You've even got me rethinking my rejection of Major League Baseball. I've learned you are an even more interesting and layered woman than I ever suspected. You rock, and I'm proud to be a fan.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I guess its up to us.

I've been watching and experiencing the last few months with a certain mix of pleasure and pain.

On the pleasure front, it's great to have a President who speaks in complete sentences and has cogent thoughts. (I know the right wing meme is to go after him for using a teleprompter, but since they have so little to go on of substance from their perspective, its fun to watch that and I guess the never paid attention to Ronald Reagan.)

I also think he's been spot on with International relations. His speech this last week to the "Muslim world' was enough to send the likes of bin Laden and his ilk panicking for the first time in years. Finally a president who actually threatens their ability to recruit by crossing the divide and expressing an appreciation for Muslim history. Very smart.

I like that he's not forging personal friendships with any foreign leaders as well. I certainly don't need him looking into Angela Merkle's soul to know whether she's a good leader who can be trusted or not. I need policy and a plan.

Yes on these subjects I feel like we are indeed getting the change I voted for.

On other subjects I am not so certain.

Yesterday I read a terrific blog that happens to be by Eliza Dusku's stepfather. It covers the things that are barely different from what we went through with Bush and points out the very real stronghold that corporations still hold over our politics even after they so royally fucked everything up for everyone.

I'm a liberal, for the most part, not a socialist. And for those rightwingers that can't decide whether Obama is a socialist or fascist, I invite you to google them both so you can learn the definition.

Anyway, he seems further to the left than I am for the most part but his observations are spot on about what hasn't changed and what is really up to us as a people.

Teabaggers, corporate led or not, have one thing right...get out and be heard.

I hope you enjoy Mr. Coleman's blog and appreciate the central theme. I have to go to work, so I will continue tomorrow.