Sunday, November 16, 2008

Prop 8 Shoulds

Like so many others, I am frustrated and saddened by the passing of Proposition 8 in my homestate of California. It is sickening that the majority of adults voted in favor of banning legal same-sex marriage, and illuminates some deeply entrenched distortions in many people’s thinking.

But I am also aware that any time I am feeling upset or angry, I can choose to feel peace and acceptance. IF I am willing. I am also painfully aware that many activists perceive themselves as needing to remain in a constant state of anger and victimization in order to feel productive. They are often unwilling to consider that happiness is always an option—even without legal validation of same sex relationships. By challenging “shoulds” I have learned it is possible to be politically active, and feel peace at the same time.

Here’s how this works with my should, “Gays and Lesbians Should Be Allowed To Legally Marry.”

Q: How did I learn this “should?”
A: I learned it from my friends and clients over the years, particularly those that went through traumatizing legal issues after their same sex partner died. Without legal protections, people I know and love have lost their homes, their savings, even their children.

Q: How do you feel when you think this “should?”
A: I feel hurt, angry, like I want to strike back at one of these political or religious organizations that want to take away people’s rights. Then eventually I feel achey and tired.

Q: And who profits off your “should”?
A: Anyone who voted in favor of the marriage ban profits off my “should.” Because when I get angry, my body reacts. My muscles hurt, my head aches, my blood pressure goes up, my stomach thumps, and I don’t sleep well. This makes me a lot less effective in being active or outspoken about the injustices around me.
The conservative power base who want to deny me legal rights have a lot at stake in my being miserable. If they want me to be unhappy and stressed out, then I make their job a lot easier when I make MYSELF miserable with my thoughts.

Q: Who would you be without this “should”
A: I would be a person who could be happy and fulfilled, even when half the state of California doesn’t want to me to be. I would be someone who feels personally and emotionally empowered, despite what the law tells me about myself.

Q: Replace it.
A: I would prefer that same-sex couples have equal legal rights in ALL states. It would be legally and emotionally advantageous for everyone to be able to have their relationship validated. But either way no one has the power to determine how I feel about my partner or anyone else...unless I give it to them.

From doing this “should-less” questioning, I am feeling more hopeful, and more peaceful. And it is from this place of acceptance that I know I am more effective in my actions and communications with others. Over the next few weeks I plan to write more tips about ways to engage in “should-less” protesting. Please come back and share with me your responses.

1 comment:

Irene said...

This really illustrates how changing the way you think... changes the way you feel. Thanks. It makes a lot of sense, Damon.