Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Alternative Lifestyle and the Military

Yesterday I caught up with a running conversation on Gen. Pace's recent comments on homosexuals in the military that was happening via an online newspaper comments forum. I've got to say right off the bat that I've been a fairly closed minded individual for most of my life regarding the granting of civil rights over and above what the average guy is afforded. I've got friends who are gay, and in general, life around these guys is just the same as life around any other guys. I will admit that public displays of affection, say at the bowling alley, by these friends is viewed much differently than the same behavior between my wife and me in the same circumstances. I don't rightly remember ever seeing my friends actually behaving in the same way my wife and I would, though, and I suspect it is because of the potential reaction of the dis-approving public.

There are a couple of issues sparked by Gen. Pace's comments that I would like to briefly chime in on. The right of public officials to speak about their own views on issues, and the actual issue of gays in the military.

With elected officials, and people appointed by elected officials, it would seem to be incumbent upon them to do their jobs the best way they see fit while at the same time tempering their public commentary so as to allow them to continue to remain an elected or appointed official. Sometimes the decisions they make are just so controversial that any explanation made to justify the decision made is bound to offend someone. Sometimes decisions are made based solely on our elected officials opinion on the matter, and not necessarily on a complete set of pertinent facts. Therefore, because that official has the power to make the decision and have it carried out, many policies are set based on the personal biases and prejudices of one individual. This happens on both sides of the political spectrum. It's not just a Republican thing or a Democrat thing, it's how our government works.

So, now that I've established my viewpoint that we have chosen people to make decisions for us, and that they are all going to make decisions at some point based on who they are, and that we have the right to try and hold them accountable for what they say and do, I now want to address how a small group of people who are angry can end up being more powerful than a huge amount of people who are apathetic. Complacency with the status quo has most of us anaesthetised to the little stings of a needle here and there that threaten the very status quo that has us asleep in front of the TV watching American Idol on Tivo.

The dialogue between theses two opposing forces in this newspaper forum was enlightening, and did tend to alter my viewpoint on the general issue. Yet I'm still left wondering 'where are the complacent ones?'. The angry voices of the minorities are heard loud and clear, and yet it seems that the complacent majority is mostly silent. There are a few standing up every now and then, and being pushed back down because their speech is not politically correct enough. Still, yesterday I read and watched as two people from drastically different sides of the issue, managed to make it through the hate talk, and accusations, and attacks, and slowly but surely end up seeing where the other guy was coming from. They started to listen to each other, and realize that there is another, legitimate side to the story. They found out that all conservatives aren't idiotic Bible thumping, hate-mongers and all liberals aren't me-first whiners who want the destruction of our country's moral fiber.

So, what about gays in the military? I love 'em! They've been there for years and will continue to be there for years. They have fought bravely for our country, and died for our country. They are honorable US soldiers just like the heterosexual soldiers. No different. But there is a line that I feel must continue to be drawn, and it works to the benefit of gays and non-gays. As in any workplace, sexual harassment is not tolerated, and from my own personal observations, the great majority of people never cross that line. Our jobs are just not places where our passions for our teammates are going to offer us much help and acting on these passions at the workplace more than often leads to problems. Multiply those problems by degrees as you move into the stressful world of a soldier, and problems can become disasters for the lives of the people involved.

For those who feel that practicing homosexuality is a sin, and a great majority of Americans feel that way, they've got to remember that we are all sinners. We are face to face with our sinning brothers and sisters everyday, watching them in their sin as they fail to do what their heart tells them is the right thing to do. We must choose to love these people, whether their sin is something we consider major or minor. To truly love them, however, doesn't mean it is your life's duty to make them think like you do so that they can be saved. To love them is to follow Jesus' example and truly, deeply, long to know and be known by them.

For those who feel that practicing homosexuality is just OK, they must come to grips with the fact that their sexual behavior is something abhorrent to the majority of the world. You can try and flaunt your sexual preference out in public in hopes of slowly changing America's mind on the subject, but that method just seems naive to me. Whether or not homosexuality is something that our society will one day embrace is something for the future to decide. Nations have risen and fallen throughout history with morals right smack dab in the middle of the conflict. Certainly, it is your right to try and make that day come about and that right is being defended day in and day out by our soldiers all over the world, both straight and gay. Just remember, they are also fighting for the other side's right to try and make it not happen.

Wouldn't it be better if we all tried to listen once in awhile?

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