Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lie Away and Awake at Night

"Don't Ask Don't Tell" may soon very well be gone. Happily so. Still, again, we have followed the accepted path of huge and irreversible tragedy in the lives of others to get there - waiting for the time when the marginalizers and others are comfortable enough to be willing to change.

I wonder often about the people we sacrifice as a society, later referring to them as ahead of their time, bold, prophetic, pioneers, and such. Euphemisms to cover up our own guilt, if even recognized. I think about how these leaders were harassed, imprisoned, marginalized, oppressed, separated from families, friends, and equal opportunities for work and worship.

I don't understand the appetite for such human sacrifice, however well the plodding and unwinding road toward justice might be. I keep thinking about the people of color, the women, the LGBT community and other marginalized groups and their allies who fought for justice and suffered the consequences. Who are those people now, in the eyes of society, church, or state? Are they still criminals or are they now considered heroes or heroines? What have we learned from them? Is it simply to continue to follow their tried and tragic paths to justice?

Do we need to put our hands upon the oven doors at Auschwitz to know we don't need to ever go so far again?

Whether you think there is such a thing as lies of omission or not, it may very well be that deceit at its core, is something more damaging than any lie. When deceit is institutionalized and encouraged, we quickly slide into the nearly irreversible soul-sickness of fear and distance - from ourselves and others.

Whether it is the violation of the first oath of honesty that a seviceperson who is LGBT takes when they deny themselves to satisfy the state; whether it is the crafted avoidance of honestly identifying oneself as LGBT at the time of ordination in service to the church; whether it is the lie that tears apart the relationships formed for appearances - each moves us further away from any chance of change by honesty, before the sacrifices and tragedies reach numbing proportions on their way to being heralded as future brave hearts.

I believe it is true that the laws of state and church do in fact follow the same path: by the time the law is written and passed the changes have occurred for the majority of people. That's what is happening in "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and in the church, as well.

While I have always expected the church, especially the Christian church, to live more closely to the right and radical teachings of Jesus, I would accept the boldness of the state to take the lead, knowing that faithful hearts live in all places. What is it that keeps us so locked in our ways?

I think it's fear. It's all about fear and what people are willing to do to get what they want. There's a good chance that if fear is driving us on toward a's the wrong goal. It may be that losing what we believe we're supposed to have in favor of being who we are - is the difference between lying away and awake at night - or a just and peaceful sleep.