I was out for dinner on Friday night with a group of friends and the conversation moved to the ongoing gay/trans rights debate. One of the people at the table mentioned that they have teenagers and are getting hit with all sorts on this and did not know how to respond, they also remarked that one of their sons is gay. I asked the question, what rights do they not have that you and I have and outlined that, in law, they have exactly the same rights as everyone else. They have the right to marry, work, own property etc. and that if they were being denied any of those rights because of their sexual preferences then they might be able to make a case but otherwise they couldn’t and it was a non-issue.
They said their son had been taken into the office by the school principal and spoken to about his ‘gayness’ (I don’t have the full details on this or why it was brought up as an issue) and they remarked that ‘he has the right to be accepted for who he is’. I said no, he didn’t. I said you cannot legislate for people’s personal beliefs and/or prejudices. It doesn’t matter whether or not you agree with them. If he has the right to be accepted for who he is, then the principal has the same right, and also has the right to not accept someone’s sexual preferences, if it clashes with his personal religious/moral beliefs. (It’s a strong ‘Christian’ school) If the principal was denying him an education because of it, then they could make a case for discrimination but this was not the issue.
Afterwards I was thinking about this and thought why is this even an issue for the school unless someone wanted to make it an issue? School is there to provide a child with an education, it is not there to acknowledge or indulge someone’s preferences in a partner.
Also, going back to the transgender issue, the ‘I don’t feel like a man/woman…’ etc. I was thinking about this again too and wondered – How do you know what it feels like to be a man or woman unless you had the experience of feeling both? If you say you don’t feel like a ‘man’ then you must have had the experience of ‘feeling like a man’ at some point. You must also have had the experience of ‘feeling like a woman’ in order to be able to differentiate between the two. What is the difference, do men and women not have the same feelings and emotional range? Are women more emotional or is that just a myth? Some people have very shallow feelings, others feel things on a deeper level, does this correlate with biological differences? What difference does testosterone or oestrogen make to someone’s feelings?
From experience, I know that fluctuations in hormone levels can play havoc with your physical and mental well-being, women are only too aware of the misery periods and menopause can inflict but none of these states are permanent and eventually level off or fade away. Without being facetious I, for one, would like to know.
I’ve also been reading An Emotional Education by Alain du Botton/School of Life and he makes the point that we are still living under the influence of the Romantics where our feelings are believed to override all other concerns. He believes this is a mistake as feelings can be wrong, something I’m sure we all know from experience. He believes we put too much emphasis on our feelings and not enough on reason and logic, like the philosophers of classical antiquity. He doesn’t necessarily say that our feelings are always wrong, or that they should be disregarded, but that they should always be balanced against reality and practicality. So before we go rushing off on impulse to quit our jobs and join the circus, or whatever your wont may be, it would probably be best to sit down and give it some thought first.
We all have the same rights in law, and the law doesn’t legislate for feelings. In this age of indulgent narcissism where everyone is so easily offended, the best thing that could happen would be for all those narcissists to get exactly what they want, to never be offended, to never be challenged, to always have everyone agree with them. Because if that happened, what you would find is that their lives and the world would stagnate, comedy would disappear and everyone would die of boredom, which is basically what is happening at present.
There does not need to be conflict but we as humans need challenge and sometimes conflict in order to grow and move forward. (Nothing like a good row, for clearing the air!) Some of sciences greatest breakthroughs happened because people did not agree with the beliefs of the era. If Galileo had not disagreed about the movement of the planets, would we still believe the earth was at the centre of the universe and everything moved around it? (Although there are many who still think they are the centre of the universe!) The very rights we have are because people disagreed with the status quo and took a stand against real injustices and inequality, like slavery, not because someone’s feelings were hurt or because someone didn’t use their ‘pronouns’ (aww, poor baby!). Unfortunately, this is what comes of the ‘everyone gets a medal’ generation who have been brought up to believe that their feelings should never be hurt or that they should not be offended.
If you want to live in a world where this happens then you may go and plug into the Metaverse and spend the rest of your existence in some digital version of Pleasantville where not only will you never be offended but where you will never grow up or evolve into someone who just might add something to the human experience or the lives of the people around you.
But if you are planning on living in the real world then you need to grow up and understand the basic reality that not everyone will agree with you and things will not always go your way, that’s life! If you find that someone doesn’t agree with you or offends you, then either come up with a better argument or use it to challenge yourself to find a way of managing your feelings in a world that doesn’t really give a damn - think of it as character building.
The sad reality at present, is that the world we thought we knew is falling apart around us and this focus on non-issues is a big part of the problem. While the weak and self-righteous are whining about their feelings and being offended, real issues of concern, like loss of freedom, totalitarian control, technological tyranny, medical fascism and war-mongering are not even being looked at and, in the not too distant future, we may wake up some morning to a cold hard reality and find it is too late to stop it - but sure as long as no ones feelings are hurt!
With all its faults and failings, a world where you are free to argue, disagree and challenge ideas and authority still feels like a better option to me, than some fragile snowflakes utopian dream of eternal pleasantness where innovation, fun and adventure go to die.
And talking about death, my father told me a joke one time (and I apologise in advance because I am useless when it comes to telling jokes) it was about a man who died and when he arrived in the afterlife was told he could have anything he wanted. So he asked for all the best food, drink and women, everything he ever wanted fast cars, holidays and indulged himself to the hilt. Over time he grew tired of it all and wondered what hell would be like as he couldn't take much more of the over indulgence and partying, so he asked if he could go and visit hell and give it the once over before he made a decision. However, he was told he didn't need to, he was already there. The choice is ours…
Happy Star Wars Day - May the force be with you!