Who Do You Think You Are?

Who Do You Think You Are?

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“And you knew who you were then… gals were gals and men were men…"

If you recognize those lyrics, congratulations.  You’re as old as me.  Or, maybe just a connoisseur of retro TV.  And of course you know, you simply cannot read them, you must silently belt/shriek them out in your head in the imitable style of Carol O’Conner and Jean Stapleton, as Archie and Edith Bunker, in their classic opening to “All in the Family.”

And if you don’t recognize them, stop reading now and Google “All in the Family” theme song at once.  Seriously.  Do it.  I’ll still be here.

Back yet?  Good. Now we can move on.

“So what does a 40-something year old show have to do with my life?”,  you say? Only everything.  Oh, you may think they were just wistfully pining away for the days when Glen Miller played, and their old LaSalle ran great… And sure, you can call them a bigot and a dingbat, but Archie and Edith knew something.  And that something is this:

There was a time when we knew who we were.  And we were ok with that.

Once upon a time, there was a time when our identity wasn’t ambiguous.  When gender wasn’t “fluid”.  When it was, in fact, binary.  Man.  Woman.  Male.  Female.  Created in God’s image. You were one, or the other.  I know it sounds like an absurdly simple system, and not at all in keeping with these very sophisticated and complex times in which we now live.  But for 99.75% of all of the people living in the history of the world, it was a system that worked.  That is, until now.

And why is that?  Is it because we really are all that more sophisticated than the dingbats and bigots of days gone by?  That we’ve evolved beyond arcane notions of masculinity and femininity?  Have we really reached new heights of our collective self-actualization to the point where we need to be unencumbered from the shackles of being defined by anyone or anything other than our own ever changing sense of personal reality?  This will surely spark controversy, as does anything that smacks of the definitive these days, but deep in the core of our being, we know the answer to all of the above:

No.

We’re not all that sophisticated.  We’re no smarter, more evolved or free-er than those who have gone before us.  Yes, we have one thing they did not, which is the benefit of their experience (the thing we call history) to help guide us.  And yes, we have all kinds of cool new technology, and a growing body of knowledge which expand exponentially on a daily basis.  But it is apparent that our knowledge hasn’t made us any wiser, and sadly, it seems, neither has history.  The thing is, contrary to what we’d like to believe about ourselves and the world around us, there truly is nothing new under the sun.  We may gain knowledge, and even invent and unearth new ways to wield it, but we create nothing. That (creation) has already been done.  And not by us.  We only utilize what’s been here all along.  That goes for the precepts which govern things like the laws of physics, or even say, biology, anatomy, physiology, etc.  You know, the same scientific precepts that tells us there is such a thing as Gravity.  You may not like it, or even want to identify yourself as someone who lives in a world where gravity exists, but there it is anyway, my friend, in all its unfairness, holding you down.  Keeping you back.  It’s frustrating, I know. But what alternative do we have? Do we circumvent the laws of nature and create a world where there is no such thing as gravity?  And if so, for what purpose?  So that .25% of the gravity non-identifiers can feel more comfortable? 

I know.  It sounds ridiculous.  No one would do that.  But this is exactly what we are talking about with the Gender Fluidity issue.  It’s not about bathrooms, friends. It’s not about boycotts.  Or wearing the clothes you like to wear. Or loving who you want to love.  Or justifying unkindness to those with whom we disagree.  It’s about whether or not it’s ok to impose the beliefs of a fraction of a single percent of the entire population on the rest of the entire population.  It’s about suppressing the very voice of dissent, not to mention the idea that there is such a thing as empirical Truth.  It’s about shaming those who have the audacity to go against the popular tide and say “Um, the Emperor? I think he’s naked.”  And it’s ultimately about denying that God knew what He was doing when He (not us) assigned us our genders, making us in His image.  It’s about saying we know who we are better than our Creator. That’s what this is all about.

By the way, for those who identify as Christian (see how I worked that in?), it’s also not about qualifying jerkishness in the name of “righteousness”.  Compassion is a given.  Be kind always, and especially in your disagreements.  Yes, you’ll still be called hateful no matter how nice you are, by the virtue of your intolerant moniker, “Christ follower”… but that’s another article. Stay tuned.

Of course, for those who are hostile to my premise, I can hear you shaking your head (oh yes, I hear it) and looking for the comments section (where all the fun really happens) to say that this is a false comparison, that to equate the definitiveness of gravity to gender is like comparing apples and oranges.  They are not the same thing, you may say, for reasons that appeal to compelling emotional testimony and personal autonomy.  And I would reply “Are, too!”, and counter with several reasons that appeal to rationality and unequivocal facts.  And that conversation would disintegrate quickly.

But maybe the real question we are wrestling with here isn’t what’s true or factual or inarguable after all.  May the real question is as simple as this:  How is it hurting anyone for me to be who I want to be? 

And perhaps the answer is, of course, another question: 

If who I want to be forces everyone else to deny the order of nature so I can feel comfortable at the expense of not just your comfort, but your right to express yourself…  how does that not hurt everyone? 

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