This I Believe

Kayta - Shoreline, Washington
Entered on December 12, 2007

“Love = heart + heart,” became my stance one wet Seattle Saturday last October, at a gay/lesbian rights protest. One hundred strong, we pooled around the convention center where a virulent anti-gay group, Watchmen on the Walls, was meeting. As I stood in the drizzle, waving to cars, a reporter began to interview a woman near me. A smart man, the reporter got right down to the meatiest question: “Why do you consider the other group’s beliefs to be wrong?” Although the question clearly stumped the woman, I suddenly knew the answer—an answer that many people would rather avoid. The conventioneers were the same as us—passionately believing in a cause and ready to defend it with protests and laws. They were us in another time and place. In that moment I felt that I understood the men meeting inside. I knew in that instant, how I would answer that question: “I am here because of my senior quote by a great, just man, Martin Luther King Jr., ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’; and these men are here because they have something to believe in as well, something that makes them feel that they are triumphing over wrong, over evil.” Two sides to a coin, as alike and as different as two groups could be: both soaring from doing the right thing. How alike we are in our differences! I wonder how history will record the coin toss.

Too often, people come to hate those whose beliefs are different. The better I grasp the opposing view, the better I can compare those actions and beliefs to my own. Hate can be mitigated when people strive to understand. Everyday, people commit horrible crimes—rape, murder, child abuse, terrorism…, but so often the rapist was raped, the murderer or child abuser was abused, and the terrorist was lonely or bullied. I can hate the crime, but I cannot hate the criminal. Perhaps if the conventioneers understood homosexuals, they would not hate them as passionately as we supported them.

How will the coin toss be recorded in the erratic book of History? Will we ever know? What even is right? Maybe History is herald of the day, but since interpretations of history are always evolving, how will we know what is right? I believe that the world’s rights and wrongs can be explained with science, that there are no divine mysteries, so how can what is right be so mysterious? I believe that nothing is simply black or white. Is this another illogical demon, come to haunt me and change my thinking? Will science someday be able to say, “this is right and this is wrong”? Knowing why people have their beliefs helps to answer the question of morality. Are gay rights just or unnecessary, and how will we ever find out? If Hitler had won Europe, would it be right to kill Jewish men, women, and children? How can we possibly know that what we are doing is right?