FEAR AND PAPERWORK
(a guest entry by Ned)
9 October 2008
Fear and paperwork. The two things that rule our society more than
anything else. Not necessarily in that order, but still
there are no two things that
people are more obsessed with. Fear and paperwork. Fear leads to paperwork, and paperwork
nurtures our fears
which generally leads to more paperwork. Its crazy.
The day my wife and I purchased our home, the lenders, mortgage brokers, notaries and such
sat us in a room in front of a huge stack of paperwork. "Sign here," they said.
When I picked up that first piece of paper and began to read it they said, "If you
want to read everything before you sign it, thats your prerogative. But let me tell
you now, if you dont sign it you dont get the house."
Out of fear of continuing to rent for the rest of my life, I stopped reading and started
signing. Six years later, I still dont know what I signed. But I "own" a
house, so whatever.
In one of the ultimate acts of fear in my lifetime, a handful of scaredy-cats flew a
couple of planes in to the World Trade Center. And when those towers came toppling to the
ground, all that remained in the sky were millions of pieces of paper - all with words on
them that were apparently important enough to print out and keep on hand drifting
through the air like snowflakes being carried away in the breeze.
The resulting fear has led to so much paperwork its mindboggling. And the paperwork
has done nothing but create more and more fear to the point that our nation seems to have
gone insane. Weve allowed our leaders to create paperwork that limits our freedoms.
Weve allowed them to create paperwork that has bankrupted the nation. Weve
even allowed them to create paperwork that authorizes unspeakable acts of violence none of
us would ever consider doing ourselves. All in the name of giving us a false sense of
safety from things we have little or, in most cases, zero control over.
Its crazy. And it certainly doesnt look like the world I signed on to when I
was born in to it.
Currently, a relatively small group of well-meaning people have placed a piece of fear
legislation for our consideration on the ballot this upcoming election. Im talking
about Proposition 8. Thats the one where they want to put an amendment in the
California Constitution that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. In other
words, they want to create paperwork that excludes some human beings because they fear
what might happen if they dont. And they want it to be the law of the land.
If you are like me, you are so sick of hearing about this subject youve considered
several ways to take your own life. But here I am, alive and frustrated
to consider it because people are so unable to lighten up, and I fear what the paperwork
will do to my loved ones if I actually did take my own life.
Ive heard all the arguments on both sides ad-nauseam and I know in my gut that this
proposition is a bad idea. It does nothing but put up more walls. It divides us as human
beings. It nurtures fear and it ignores love.
Frankly, I have an impossible time understanding how people who claim to be devoted to God
dont see it. God is supposed to be of unconditional love. God is infinite. God is
inclusive. Proposition 8 is the opposite of all these things. It is unloving, it is
limiting, and it is exclusive.
Supporters are so blinded by their fear of the unknown that they throw love out the door
in favor trying to control things they really have no control over. Because what most of
these people want more than anything is for gay to go away. They want it to not exist.
Sure, these days they may articulate it differently
their rhetoric has changed with
the flow of the tides. But very fact that places like Exodus International continue to
exist is a testament to it. And since they know in their heart of hearts that gay
isnt going away, they do the only thing they can think of: control the paperwork.
Supporters will argue that the conscience of California spoke when a small percentage of
Californians passed Proposition 22 so many years ago. But from where I sit, thats
irrelevant because its not the case. I know this for a fact because I didnt
vote for or against Proposition 22. I abstained. My conscience was not represented one way
or the other. And yes, I do realize it was my own choice, but it doesn't change the fact
that I am a born-and-raised Californian, and I grow tired of this small percentage of the
state claiming to represent all of us.
When Proposition 22 reared its ugly head I had people from all sides trying to get me on
board. But when I stepped back and looked at it objectively, I realized it changed
nothing. The day before Prop 22 passed, the state was not issuing marriage licenses to gay
people. The day after it passed, the state was not issuing marriage licenses to gay
people. Nothing changed. Prop 22 was little more than a symbolic gesture to give a little
affirmation to people who fear homosexuality. It felt childish to me. It felt like I was
watching a bunch of first graders banding together to pick on the kid with glasses. All
Prop 22 did was to give a small percentage of Californians comfort in knowing they
arent the only bullies in class.
I had more than enough of that back when I was in elementary school so I chose not to
participate. I abstained. But I am very confident that if everyone in California had gone
to the voting booth and filled out their paperwork to reflect their honest feelings about
gay marriage, Prop 22 would have been defeated by a huge margin. But it didnt matter
anyway because nothing changed. And there was no reason to believe that defeating it would
have changed anything. I didn't see any point in giving this exercise in futility any of
But now something has changed. The Supreme Court has ruled that excluding a minority of
society from certain rights and benefits simply because they are sexually hardwired
differently is unconstitutional. And they are correct about it. It says so right there in
The people who fear homosexuality dont like that one bit. So they find themselves
with two choices: face their fears or change the paperwork. It saddens me greatly that
they have chosen the latter. Not only because now I have to get off my butt and vote, but
because I expect more from them.
The Yes on 8 campaign has recently begun running a media blitz on TV with a misleading ad
full of inaccuracies designed to strike at the heart of peoples fears. Never mind
the fact that the information is dishonest, whats important is to make you afraid of
The ad begins with the image of Gavin Newsom, the Mayor of San Francisco, standing in
front of a crowd celebrating equality for all. He opens his hands and shouts "this
door is wide open." The implication being, of course, that gay marriage opens the
door for all sorts of crazy things you should be afraid of. Ive heard the argument
so many times I want to explode: Gay marriage opens the door for incest marriage,
pedophile marriage, bigamy, and even the possibility of people being able to marry their
I feel its important to point out that the rationale is crazy. Because if the
rationale is that gay marriage opens that door, then the FACT is that straight marriage
started it. If it werent for straight marriage, we wouldnt be talking about
gay marriage. So if the door truly is open for bestiality marriage, then its
straight marriages fault, not gay marriages fault.
If youre sitting there thinking that my rationale is ridiculous, youre
correct. Because this whole thing is ridiculous. The economy is collapsing, our young men
and women in uniform are dying left and right fighting an un-winnable war, our prisons are
bursting at the seams for no reason other than to beef up the coffers of the
prison-industrial complex, millions of families cant afford healthcare, many can't
even afford food, and were arguing over whether or not two people of the same sex
have the right to say "I do" and fill out a form that allows them the security
of knowing that the law cant cheat them out of the promises and commitments they
have made to each other.
Id go on about the inaccuracies and untruths of the rest of the Yes on 8
advertisement, but its not really the point. The point is about giving in to fear,
rather than embracing love
which is exactly what the Yes on 8 campaign would have us
A recent article in the Bee profiled a Sacramento minister who was wrestling with a sermon
he was preparing to give. He knew it was a sensitive subject, but felt it important to
talk to his congregation from the pulpit about how supporting Prop 8 does not mean we
cant have love in our hearts for all people, regardless of sexual orientation. But
Im not really buying what hes selling. I believe the reason he found it
difficult to prepare is because he unconsciously knows deep in his heart that its an
impossible position to take. How can one represent a God of unconditional love by taking a
position that requires conditions? Its a form of emotional abuse: "You are not
good enough as you are. You are not worthy. But I love you."
I do not see how that is a loving message at all. It does nothing more than give lip
service to the idea of love. It is not an act of love. If it were your spouse saying these
things to you, you would either remove yourself from their life, or you would be a person
with very low self-esteem.
Im not here to try to convince anyone to change their beliefs. I realize all too
well that its a losing battle. However, my problem begins and ends when somebody
tries to legislate their beliefs in such a way that excludes all human beings from sharing
equally. Proposition 8 is not about equality. Its not about love. Its the
opposite of equality, its the opposite of love, and its the opposite of
everything I was taught that the United States of America represents.
Fear and paperwork. Its ruling our lives and I am a person who strongly wishes that
human beings could overcome it. Gay marriage is only one example. Ever since that tragic
event on the morning of September 11, 2001 our nation has embraced fear as never before.
And all we seem to be able to do about it is build more walls to keep love out. Its
very, very sad, and my own fear is what the future holds if we stay on this course.
Make no mistake about it. If Prop 8 passes, fear wins again
and love loses. And that
is the opposite of God wants for us.
Peace, love and all that mother jazz
Tomorrow's entry will be late...no it's not Cousins Day, but it's Pinata
Women day. Char is picking me up in the morning and we're spending the night at