Saturday, March 24, 2012

There Is Some Hope

I almost skipped completely any writing this week.  I found the past week's news to be horribly depressing, what with the considerable -- and growing -- popularity of a Republican political candidate whom I consider to be positively dangerous in both his ignorance and his obdurate religious fundamentalism.  Yes, Mr. Santorum, I mean you.  How anyone who has a mother, a sister, or a daughter can possibly stand behind this man is a complete and utter mystery to me.  And yet he keeps on winning, or coming close to doing so.

Then there's that charming lady in Georgia who until recently was selling the following car sticker:

I heard this hideous excuse for a human being interviewed on NPR and she was insistent that this is not racist.  Right.  How this offensive piece of excrement could even be made here in the 21st Century is, again, a complete and utter mystery to me.  I am thankful that she finally removed it from sale on her website.  But I have to keep reminding myself of what George Carlin said: "Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of them are even stupider!"  Guess which half I'm putting her into.

There's been a lot of other horribly depressing news -- the Afghanistan killings, the jihadist in France and his killings and ultimate suicide by cop, and on and on, ad nauseam -- and added to the fact that I have personally been in horrific physical pain this week -- something about autoimmune disease and spring allergies can make for an absolutely deadly combination -- and it's no wonder I've been prone to looking at my bottle of painkillers and trying to come up with a reason not to swallow the whole lot of them.

And then last night, on network TV no less, I stumbled on a hidden-camera program called "What Would You Do?" that put ordinary people into situations that called for them to make some kind of a moral choice, and then watch what they do.  They did the usual trite stuff, like dropping money outside of a bank to see if it would be stolen or returned, and hiring kid actors to try to get someone to buy them beer.  Mostly people reacted the way we would hope they would, including a homeless woman with seven dollars to her name returning the hundred dollar bill she found to the bank, and the middle-aged chef demanding the phone number for the would-be beer purchasers' parents.  But the one that really got to me, that really gave me hope, was in the bridal shop in New Jersey.

"What Would You Do?" staged a scene in a bridal shop where an actress feigned finally finding the perfect wedding dress -- a pretty emotional moment, I think -- only to have the saleswoman refuse to sell it to her upon discovering that the bride-to-be was a lesbian.  Whereas in the other scenarios there were always a couple of people who made the "bad" choice -- a couple of people bought beer for the kids or kept the hundred -- EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the bridal shop, EVERY SINGLE TIME they staged the confrontation between the bigoted saleswoman and the gay bride-to-be, either spoke up in favor of the bride, or walked out of the store to go shop somewhere else, or some combination of the two.  Every time.  And they let the saleswoman know she was wrong, too, every single time.  The most moving one for me was the young black woman in the store with her mother.  They made it very clear that as far as they were concerned, it was a civil rights issue, and they were in tears on behalf of the gay bride because of how her special "yes to the dress" moment was ruined by something she would have to carry in her heart forever.  The mother mentioned how she grew up in Utah and likewise would have been refused a dress if it had been discovered that she was marrying a white man.

And all this in New Jersey, a state where the legislature approved same-sex marriage last February only to have their Republican governor veto the bill when it came to his desk.  It showed me that random folks seem to get it, and seem to realize that same-sex marriage is  a civil rights issue, and that loving one another and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you is where our hearts should be.

For the first time in a while, I'm proud to be from New Jersey.

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