Thursday, October 25, 2007
The Cost of Prejudice
The Article "The Cost of Integrity" below, which outlines penalties around the globe for being LGBT has stirred some interesting comments - privately to me as well as those posted here.
When I went to Belize this past July with 21 people under the age of 18 and 15 adults, including my life partner and spouse, I was keenly aware that if someone 'protested' our so-called 'lifestyle' we could be facing the next 10 years in a Belizean prison.
We had done the research before the trip. We knew the possibilities.
We knew they were possibilities and not probabilities.
Still. We needed to be mindful - especially for the children in our care.
Never mind all that. Really.
Thomas Jefferson is reported to have said, "Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind;" adding, "we might as well require a man to wear the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain forever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."
Think for just a moment of the other "hidden costs" of memorializing that kind of prejudice and ignorance in the codes of the legal system of a government.
If it is true that the real measure of a civilization is the way in which it treats the least of its members, then it must be asked what these kind of laws do to the moral fiber and soul of the nations which keep them on their books - whether or not they actively enforce them.
Think of what it must be like to wake up every morning and know that there are citizens in your country who live haunted by the fact that if they told the truth about themselves, about who they really love, it might cost them their very lives.
Think of what it must be like to live and work in a place where people sacrifice their integrity in order to appease some ancient, ignorant fear which is supported by a very narrow, rigid interpretation and application of the sacred text of an ancient society.
It must be a bit like being forced to wear a coat that hasn't fit you since you were a child.
Prejudice and bigotry hurt everyone - the target of prejudice and bigotry as well as the perpetrator.
When the integrity of anyone is compromised anywhere, the integrity of everyone is compromised everywhere.
We who claim to be citizens of a civilized society as well as citizens, through baptism, of the Realm of God can claim nothing less. This is never more true for those of us who dwell in the Communion of Saints.