Learning how to be whom you really are sounds deceptively simple doesn’t it?
However most of us have to figure it out by going two steps forward and one back and we may not always find the answers we want.
To truly know ourselves, we must inevitably grapple with painful information and struggle to find answers to the questions we ask.
When you get to have lived for over seven decades as I have now, the famous maxim ‘know thyself’ (gnocchi sexton Gk or, nosce the ipsum Latin) first engraved on ancient temple in the place where democracy arose, is important.
Knowing myself for me means I understand for some reason I have been cast in a role in life that compels me to question everything.
I also have to exceed boundaries as much as I can, although in an respectful, beneficial and celebratory way if I am able.
I try not to shut my mind to questioning what I really know.
What I know and understand is that marriage equality is really all about the basic freedoms attached to liberty and a belief that everyone should expect the same basic human rights.
If the privilege of belonging to a free society is great, so also is the responsibility we all have to cast a YES vote greater.
This postal survey, replacing the plebiscite, is all about the Australian version of The Marriage Act, which is a secular document – and I can’t stress that point enough.
The Australian postal survey asks one question: should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?
Voting YES for me is the only answer
It has nothing at all to do with religion or God. For most of the time in law it has been a contract formulated in a patriarchal society and all about limiting one partner’s rights.
Those bringing Jesus into the debate are diverting attention away from the facts and from why so many people down the ages really followed the way of Jesus.
The Jesus I know championed equal rights for everyone; he was a shining beacon of light in a world where hate and inequality thrived and he wanted to change it.
He allowed himself to be vilified, flogged and crucified because he had the courage of his convictions.
He was sorrowed and shamed, but not for himself, but rather for humankind’s continuing capacity for cruelly dealing with each other rather than living as he wished, through goodness and love.
The Christians I know will vote YES to marriage equality because they believe in doing unto others as you would have them do to you.
To put the quote from The Holy Bible: Luke 6:31 into context…
‘But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek offer the other also, and from him who takes away your cloak do not withhold your coat as well. Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again.
As you wish that men would do to you, do so to them’
Living in the precinct of St John’s cathedral in Brisbane (2000 – 2005) in a space at the top of St Martin’s House surrounded by people suffering appallingly in so many different ways, affected my life deeply.
I certainly learned a great deal as I encountered those coming to the church on a regular basis for help. Many people also rang my bell at night because mine was the only light they could see from the street.
From the first night I was there I would often sit on the steps leading up to its front door offering those in distress comfort.
The policy in place meant everyone who came to worship or seek guidance and help were always treated equally.
It didn’t matter if they were believers or not – people were just people and it was recognised and acknowledge everyone has challenges to face. And, that everyone’s feelings matter.
No Australian in the twenty first century should be subjected to vilification, as indeed so many of our vulnerable people are on a regular basis.
They include indigenous people, people who are unemployed, people experiencing homelessness, people with physical disabilities and people who choose same sex partners; in other words people who are different.
There were young girls and women with children who had often been beaten by husbands or fathers and driven from their homes.
With only twelve beds in Brisbane to accommodate them at that time, it was always a challenge how to help.
There were also so many homeless people, who believed they were without hope and it was hard not to despair sometimes. They were vilified too, an appalling thing to happen in Australia of the 21st century.
This often happened to those with extreme mental health problems. I was once attacked in the garden and if I hadn’t known what to do I would have been dead. So I have seen and experienced all the extremes.
It is up to all citizens to change their own behaviour – to act to benefit families, friends and the common good.
We all need to try and help inspire others to think about human behaviour and how we might best change our attitudes in practice.
We need to be personally responsible for our actions, and of engaging with society to mediate collective action.
We need to contribute to closing the ‘social aspiration gap’ – the gap between the world we say we want, and the world that actually exists as a result of our actions.
Prior to the birth of Jesus marriage existed for a long time; women had no rights ‘rules of property’ the focus for the husband who ‘took the wife’, gaining her dowry which often included property.
In one form or another, the rules made then were about ‘property’, and they have continued down the ages to impact on society today.
Jesus was not perfect: despite many people regarding him as being so. He became known as the ‘Christ’ (anointed one) because he reached out to everyone, especially those suffering from trauma and difficulty.
It was his imperfections really and his rare ability to embrace them, to learn from them and to help others to do so, by communicating his message of courage, love and compassion to others that endeared Jesus to the early followers of his way of life after he had gone.
He said, ‘Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you… for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.
How right he was.
Thousands of years of history prove prejudice, bigotry and hatred of our fellow man leads to nothing but death, destruction and an inability for humankind to thrive.
1 Peter 2:9 – But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light…
Did you know historically there is no word in Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek for “homosexual” or “homosexuality.”
The word itself was only first recorded 1890-95
The words were invented at the time psychoanalysts began to discover and understand sexuality as an essential part of the human personality in all of its diversity.
If the Jesus I know and understand was physically present today he would be advocating for everyone to embrace science, reason, experience, change and most importantly, each other.
Please Vote Yes for Marriage Equality.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, September 2017