Have you gazed on naked grandeur where there’s nothing else to gaze on,
Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,
Big mountains heaved to heaven, which the blinding sunsets blazon,
Black canyons where the rapids rip and roar?
Have you swept the visioned valley with the green stream streaking through it,
Searched the Vastness for a something you have lost?
Have you strung your soul to silence? Then for God’s sake go and do it;
Hear the challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost.
Have you wandered in the wilderness, the sagebrush desolation,
The bunch-grass levels where the cattle graze?
Have you whistled bits of rag-time at the end of all creation,
And learned to know the desert’s little ways?
Have you camped upon the foothills, have you galloped o’er the ranges,
Have you roamed the arid sun-lands through and through?
Have you chummed up with the mesa? Do you know its moods and changes?
Then listen to the Wild — it’s calling you.
Have you known the Great White Silence, not a snow-gemmed twig aquiver?
(Eternal truths that shame our soothing lies.)
Have you broken trail on snowshoes? mushed your huskies up the river,
Dared the unknown, led the way, and clutched the prize?
Have you marked the map’s void spaces, mingled with the mongrel races,
Felt the savage strength of brute in every thew?
And though grim as hell the worst is, can you round it off with curses?
Then hearken to the Wild — it’s wanting you.
Have you suffered, starved and triumphed, groveled down, yet grasped at glory,
Grown bigger in the bigness of the whole?
“Done things” just for the doing, letting babblers tell the story,
Seeing through the nice veneer the naked soul?
Have you seen God in His splendors, heard the text that nature renders?
(You’ll never hear it in the family pew.)
The simple things, the true things, the silent men who do things —
Then listen to the Wild — it’s calling you.
They have cradled you in custom, they have primed you with their preaching,
They have soaked you in convention through and through;
They have put you in a showcase; you’re a credit to their teaching —
But can’t you hear the Wild? — it’s calling you.
Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us;
Let us journey to a lonely land I know.
There’s a whisper on the night-wind, there’s a star agleam to guide us,
And the Wild is calling, calling … let us go.
The funny thing about arguing that same-sex couples will damage the lives of the children they raise is that never once has a same-sex couple conceived a child by accident. Every single gay and lesbian couple who decided to have a child together must plan for it, often in great detail; whether this is a lesbian couple who need to find a sperm donor, a gay couple who must find a surrogate mother or either of these looking to go through the lengthy and often difficult process of adoption. Every single child brought into the home of a gay or lesbian couple is wanted.
Of course there’s more than one, but in this post I’m going to focus on a contradiction which speaks to me personally in everyday life. I’m not expecting this post to change the way you think or the way you practice your religion. I just think this little chink in the armor ought to be pointed out.
I was raised that the most basic principle of judaism is to love your neighbor like yourself. Do not do to another what you wouldn’t want done to you, and all the rest is commentary. That is how I practice my religion. By being open and accepting whenever possible, being slow to judge, giving out kindness. I believe those are the most meaningful ways for me to be a jew. And of course everyone is entitled to make that decision for themselves. But I think ואהבת לרעך כמוך is a very high priority.
I get the message, from studying torah and growing up in a jewish community, that keeping the sabbath is also pretty high up there on the scale of important laws. In fact, we can see examples in the bible where violating the sabbath publicly is punishable by a horrible death. And yet, I’ve noticed that in our generation, even in the case of a person who is publicly violating the sabbath, it is acceptible to treat them with proper respect - even expected. You might be looked down upon if you think otherwise. Our leaders have made the decision that loving your neighbor is more important than providing the proper punishment to those who violate the sabbath. And I’m proud to say I agree with them.
There’s another commandment which the jewish community is pretty hung up on, though. It has come to the point where not only do our leaders encourage shunning and oppression of people who sin, individuals take it upon themselves to punish these people in their own judgement. Where the rabbis are lenient in the case of the sabbath, which is taken very seriously in the original text, they will not budge in the case of a person who publicly or privately does this one thing, which is mentioned in passing amidst a list of much worse things, and the bible is pretty clear that if there’s any punishment at all, it’s completely up to God. I am talking about homosexuality. (Isn’t that what I always talk about?
So can you understand why I’m a little bit confused? The torah states specifically that people who violate the sabbath should be killed, and that the community has a responsibility to carry out their punishment, and yet, we choose not to. We choose to value love over the death of our people. In the case of a person who is gay, we have no responsibility to punish them, which I think means it’s none of our business. But we choose to shun them, and put them through all sort os craziness trying to convince them to change something they might not know how, or may not want to. We tag them as diseased, dangerous, contageous, sinners. We distance our children from them. We mourn them when they are in fact flourishing, successful people. We choose to value punishment over love.
And here’s another thing. We talk a lot about modesty, like wearing long sleeves is the most important thing a woman could possibly ever do. We treat the subject of sex like a taboo. We don’t talk about straight sex in public, and yet we make a public judgement based on someone’s choice of partner. That seems like an interesting set of ideals. Huh.
I consider myself extremely lucky that I have the ability to be happy in a straight relationship so I don’t have to put up with all of the community’s bullshit. But I also firmly believe that it’s my choice to be in a relationship with whoever I want, and that it’s no one else’s business. I’m not going to try and change to make it harder for strangers to hate me. I’m not going to make someone else suffer in a relationship with someone who isn’t attracted to them. I’m not going to choose hate over love. I think that loving one’s neighbor is a higher priority than sticking your nose into someone’s private bedroom business and choosing to shun them based on something you don’t actually know.
Come gay people, come violators of the sabbath. Let’s go somewhere and actually be nice to people.