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What Egalitarian Means

They called it Women’s Lib or Feminism. They called it Black Power. They called it Gay Pride. They  called it the Suffragette Movement. It has had many names but what it all boils down to is equal rights. Yes, equal rights, that every person, regardless of race, gender, sexual preference or religion should have equal rights.

I realized a while back that I’m not really a feminist, and it’s too bad some people color that as a negative thing (misconstruing it with feminazis who are adamant, woman over the expense of others hard noses). I am an egalitarian. Whether I am that color, that race, that gender, it matters not. Everyone should have a fair chance.

Obviously, I was raised in a culture that alows women certain rights, that also has laws about human rights. In my lifetime those rights have changed, allowing in most places across Canada gay marriage, recognizing discrimination. It’s not perfect and there are still obvious cases of discrimination, racial profiling, bigotry and hate crimes. Otherwise we wouldn’t hear about these in the news.

I think everyone needs to be given a fair shake. Unfortunately, everyone is born into different circumstances. They may be in a country that lacks human rights, that treats women as chattel, that considers a race inferior, that has poverty, corruption and disease. They might be born into a family with too many kids and not enough money to feed them, into royalty, with physical or mental defects, into a loving family, a hateful neighborhood, a low populated farming population. They could be affected by war, drought, flooding, car accidents, rape, murder, economic collapse, disease, love, hate, generosity, prejudice, fear, etc. There are thousands of ways that each person begins a life without being on even footing with everyone else.

This does not mean that we should just accept this status quo, that it’s your lot in life and you should therefore accept it and not strive above your station. If that were the case, women would still not have the vote, black people would still be slaves in the US, Japanese would still be in interment camps in BC, royalty would still be ruling… Oh, right, we still have that. I am inherently against monarchies whether figureheads or leaders, because they did not attain their position through popular vote. They get to be “royal” and rich because they inherit the position. Sure, we the people might vote in a scoundrel (Bush comes to mind) but it is the bed we make ourselves (mostly, but not all in Bush’s case), not the bed we are shoved into.

Inheriting the family business is one thing but not if it’s nominative ruler of a country. In an election everyone  who runs should have a fair shake at winning. That’s being egalitarian. Of course we have examples of sham elections, fudged ballots such in Iran and with Mugabe’s tyranny in Zimbabwe or Bush’s suspect election in the US. When something becomes unfair as the rigged elections of these rulers, it really bothers me. It’s not fair, the rules for everyone having a “fair chance” are tossed out.

When it comes to subjugation of women and children, and in some places men as well, I cannot understand how someone could treat a person as inferior because they are of a different sex. We’re all human beings. We must work together to survive and because one sex bears the fruit of the race does not make them inferior. To keep someone subjugated means that they aren’t allowed to do things or make their own decisions, that they are possessions of another. There have slaves of various races and there are slaves of gender. No matter how you cut it, it is still slavery, one human owning another.

There are people that believe in religious freedom but only if it applies to them. They then think that “those people over there” need to be converted or are Satan’s minions or the infidel. They shouldn’t do it that way. To convert someone by sword or gun serves only to give lip service to a religion not build true faith. It would definitely backfire with me, for no matter what I said to preserve my life I would grow to hate and detest the “faith” that was trying to convert me. In essence, should a person’s faith require them to wear an icon, a seven-pointed hat, a tattooed forehead or robes with pink polka dots, it is up to them. They shouldn’t, no matter what they claim, have a faith that requires them to subjugate, beat, murder, rob or otherwise denigrate another human being. What has been done in the name of religion is inexcusable. Basic human rights is what it comes down to.

So yes, I’m an egalitarian to the bone. It is such a fundamental part of my being that it could never be removed. Am I perfect in my philosophy, free of judgment and prejudice in all things. No. Cultural and societal conditioning, moires and values can sway and color us. I too have to watch for attitudes sneaking in which could prejudice me against someone. Difference is sometimes a hard thing for people to accept.

A person should get the fairest chance at life. That means through skill and experience should someone get the job, not through age, or gender, or looks, or color or religion. It should be on what the best person can do. If that goes to a white guy fine. If it seems there are too many white guys and not enough women or people of color then don’t rig requirements for a job or admission into something by that criteria because it is reverse discrimination. Instead, make is possible for those people to attain better educations if they have come from limited circumstances, no matter who they are.

I know there are many connotations to fairness and that ethical equations come into play, sometimes protect a culture or a way of life. But to me the basic rule applies, do what you will, as long as it hurts no one else. And everyone should get a fair chance at life and all its aspects and not be limited due to how we were born.  Overall, I don’t think it’s a bad way to live my life, trying to consider the rights of others and working to make sure they get a fair shake.

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Homophobia and the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf

The school district of Abbotsford is at it again. A high school course is being offered called Social Justice. It deals with issues and rights for animals, gay people, races, gender, etc. This is a Ministry of Education approved course and outlines what Canadian law covers in terms of rights. It was approved to be offered this fall.

Typical of Abbotsford, where the school district has in the past banned various books because of their content, some of it being about gay people, they yet again stuck their noses in, in an effort to slow down the inevitable offering of this course.

Now Abbotsford is an interesting place. It’s nearly an hour from Vancouver and now that housing has become unaffordable for the average human in Vancouver or even Maple Ridge, people are buying out there. I have several friends who bought in Abbotsford but it’s history is more right wing. I was a book rep at one point and drove all over BC. Abbotsford was one place where religious fundamentalism raised its hoary head. I had to be very careful what I wore (taking off my extra rings) and what books I showed the bookstores. In one, even a pictorial depiction of Jesus was frowned upon. An interesting note is that this city contains many bikers as well as the bible thumpers. I’m sure it’s changing with more people moving out from Vancouver.

However, you still have that religious right screaming out about unsuitable materials in the school any time a true education is offered, especially if it involves homosexual content. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were trying to wheedle out content based on different races too. So Abbotsford school district pretending yet again that they’re just doing a “normal” (for them, maybe) review process smacks too much of the same ole prejudices. They’re the little boy crying wolf.

Yet again we have people who purport to be Christians, those who should “love thy neighbor” and to “turn the other cheek” should something offend them. Yet they get all riled up when “those people” don’t live by their values. I just can’t figure out what it matters to anyone else. Hold your religion and beliefs in your heart and don’t push them onto others. Compassion? Puhleeze. It’s only given to those who tow the line the way the fundamentalists want. How hypocritical. Really, who a person has sex with (as long as it’s not your spouse or someone under age) is no one else’s business. I could decide that in my religion the color blue was “eeeevil” and then start running around and trying to get it banned or not allowing books that mentioned blue in the schools .

Everyone might think me a kook but should my religion get more followers we could then form a cadre and start ostracizing people based on their blueness. If I don’t want blue around me, fine, but realize that other people live by other beliefs and it’s none of your business. They don’t need “saving” and they don’t want it. I really wish fundamentalists of every religion would take a reality pill and chill out. Let everyone live their lives and if they aren’t hurting someone else, let it be.

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Gay Pride and Whole Rainbow of Possibilities

This coming weekend marks the gay pride parade in Vancouver. I have only managed to go once and it was a so-so parade. I was expecting big Kermit floats and others covered in flowers. Mostly it came across as ways for different businesses to advertise while showing support. Though you do get some colorful individuals and the bare-breasted dykes on bikes. We probably have the second largest population of gay and lesbians after San Francisco. Why the west coast? I’m not sure. Probably because it’s warmer but also port cities tend to always be a blend of tradition and new ideas brought in by different ships and crews. Port cities are usually more liberal.

One of the news items associated with this year’s gay pride parade was about a Sikh man who has been trying to put a Bollywood style float together and running into some opposition: people don’t want the Sikh religion associated with homosexuality. It’s kind of odd because it’s not the religion that should be associated with homosexuality but homosexuals who are associated with the Sikh religion. Homosexuality isn’t drawn to a particular religion.

No matter what right wing fundamentalist may think, homosexuality isn’t a choice. People are born with a particular preponderance. A very good friend of mine, Greg, told me that by the age of six he knew he was gay and wanted to play “rubbing dinkies” with the boys. Most of the gay men I know tried sex with the other gender but it just didn’t work for them.

Someone posted on wordpress a while back (I wished I’d gone and responded) that their theory was that women who had a “best friend evah” who was gay were women who were dumb, vapid and not too deep (is that the same thing?). I believe the person went on to say that gay men only want these Barbie doll types of women as friends. (I didn’t read all of the article) I’ve heard some ludicrous things over the years and this rates as one of them.

Example: one of my best friends evah is gay. My other best friends are not. I have two degrees and have never been called stupid by anyone. My neighbors are gay and we’re all friends. My landlady is an architect. I certainly see no correlation with one type of person being the preferred friend type to a gay person (and I use gay here to mean men or women). Like all people, gay people have a range of personalities and religious beliefs. They are of all religions and none, varying tastes and desires and life goals. The only difference; they prefer to have sex with the same gender.

Of course, these odd prejudices of only one type for one type can also happen amongst certain gay people. I’ve been accused by gay men of being a fag hag. I hate this term and to me it means a woman who exclusively hangs around with gay men, hoping to eventually have sex with/sway one over to the other side. Even if it only means a woman who only hangs with gay men, I still take offense. If I want to go out with my gay friend, what’s wrong with that and why should it be assumed that’s all I do? Do people presume such things if you’re out with a straight male or a woman?

My biggest problem with people being against homosexuals is–what business is it of yours what they do in their bedrooms? They’re not warping your children’s minds. You can’t sway someone to the “gay side” unless they’re already gay. And as far as I’m concerned any religion that would ban someone just for being born the way they are, is a religion I want nothing to do with. Of course, mostly what happens is religious interpretation by individuals, which can get skewed. Love thy neighbor, but not if he’s gay? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but not if they’re gay?

I haven’t studied all religions but if compassion means it’s only for someone who is like you, then that’s a pretty narrow definition. Those who protest the most against being gay are probably those who have questioned their own sexuality and repressed it. Live and let live and stop repressing the homosexuals. If they were accepted in most cases as part of society, the need to flaunt or protest goes waaay down. Hooray for Canada, which legalized same sex marriages. And here’s to the gay pride parade which will be needed until everyone accepts that homosexuals are part of the overall population; 10%.

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