Saturday, July 26, 2008

Moral Courage?

Lately I have been reading Barack Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope, in which he writes about holding moral values. He cites the Senate’s debate about the. “ Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, where he states that there were those who argued that government should not interject itself into civil society, that no law could force white people to associate with blacks. Upon hearing these arguments, Dr. King replied, ‘It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also.’ “(pg 63). He further says, “…this idea that our communal values, our sense of mutual responsibility and social solidarity, should express themselves not just in the church or the mosque or the synagogue; not just on the blocks where we live, in the places were we work, or within our own families; but also through our government.”

How do we ever justify the many levels of our fractured moral fabric we put forth in our daily living with our families and in our business. How do we tell ourselves that it’s all right to preach to our children about telling the truth, being honest with yourselves, never lie to people, never cheat people out of what they’re due; and then with the people we work with on a daily basis, do to them exactly what we have told our children they shouldn’t do. Where and how did we lose that basic sense of trust; where we had a stack of newspaper and people could take one and leave the money on top of the stack? What happened to the idea that someone’s word or a shake of their hand meant something.

How can we ever explain to those who we love the harm we have committed on other’s for the only reason to get ahead; because we valve pride, wealth, status, etc, over treating someone respectfully, courteously, as an equal. To value and protect those same rights of our fellow man who have the same rights and privileges laid down by our founding fathers in our governing Bill of Rights.

Dr. King's words "It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also.", is just important to remember in these troubled times as we struggle with gender discrimination and fighting for inclusiveness in state and city government. I once heard someone describe on a video that if a person has never felt the burning desire to wear underpants of the opposite gender, then they can never understand the passion and fear of living as the other gender. We can't make all those people understand our feelings and need to live the other gender, but me must make it unlawful to discriminate against us; make it unlawful to beat us because we live a different life than they do; make it unlawful to stir hatred in the name of religion because we live differently than they do.

How could I, a father of three children who preached to them that they were to live their lives honestly and righteously and with integrity; face myself while I was spending considerable time and effort trying to keep secrets by not being truthful to my children about who I was. In trying to hide my secret, I wasn’t being truthful or honest with my life, which was separate but not equal to my life that I lived with them as their father.

As a First Sergeant, and a student in the Sergeant’s Major Academy, I had the moral obligation to enforce all military rules and regulations; to ensure that each of the soldiers under my authority adhered to certain standards of conduct; which the same rules of conduct were in direct conflict with my guilt from dressing as Sarah; when I could find a solitary place and time. So my being dismissed from the Army was the result of the moral conflict raging within me; to finally live a life based on integrity and not on secrets.

This conflict continued to rage and occupy my time and efforts as I was trying to teach my children to live their lives with integrity; until the time of my divorce and my coming out, as it were. It appears that my sons may never come to terms with my being trans; but I keep them in my prayers that one day that may understand and we can talk about my being trans.

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