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Wednesday, May 9

When Evolution Knocks...Answer

Evolution, as a concept, has been an issue of debate since the debut of Darwin's theory of natural selection, etc.  That was 1859.  Now, we're in 2012, more than a century and a half later, and we're still creatures of habit.  We all still cringe at all anticipated change--in thoughts, social norms, routines, philosophy, etc.  As evidenced by the current political climate, surrounding gay marriage, we obviously lack the evolutionary skill skill of acceptance in lieu of change in some areas. 

Over time, we humans have managed to exclude various social groupings of people.  I have never been able to wrap my mind around this because unless someone is personally hurting me with their decisions, actions, thoughts, then I feel I have no right to tell them what to do or how to do it.  I realize that most issues of exclusion, discrimination or other forms of segregation grow out of moral and/or religious beliefs, and this is a very slippery slope to trek.  However, I also wish people could realize that while we each have a subjective reality that we live, this reality can never even border on a complete understanding of everyone else's experiences and realities.  I could explain to you my thinking behind anything and everything, but I could not begin to explain to you why my neighbor makes choices as he does, nor does he owe me that explanation.  Now, take this microcosm example and throw it up onto the macrocosm scale.  The world has more than 20 organized religions.  And don't forget about the numerous sects within each.  Needless to say, just like my neighbor and I are not going to do things the same, nor are the people who believe in the traditions of all of these different religions.   

My confusion, though, lies in any one person or group of people working to proscribe the moral acts of others, thereby restricting personal freedom.  By allowing a group of people, our fellow human beings, the right to marry, we are not forcing anyone to do anything they do not want to do.  We're giving people the right to do what they want to do.  By giving women the right to vote, did we remove any honor or integrity from the male vote?  As far as I can tell, we did not.  We simply expanded the privileges of personal freedom for a group of members in our society.

So, today, I tip my hat to President Obama for respecting the positive powers of evolution.  I don't look at him and see a flawless president.  But, I do look at him and see a thoughtful and compassionate human being who obviously has the capacity to commit to progress in his own personal thoughts and beliefs, and I can respect this.  A great college professor who I had the pleasure of taking for theology class would spend the first portion of class, discussing her own take on the assigned readings.  Then, she'd open it up to the rest of the class, always making sure to say the following:  "Now, I want to hear what you thought, and remember, I can be convinced."  This is the only line from a professor that I recall to this day, word for word.  Why?  Because it was the most peaceful and respectful way of encouraging all of us, not only those who agreed with her interpretation, to participate and share our thoughts.  It also set a standard in that classroom.  Diversity in thought was not only accepted, it was encouraged.  Change and differences are inevitable, so perhaps we can begin to embrace them rather than letting them so powerfully divide us.

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