Changing our minds and hearts occurs when we take the time to understand something more deeply – to walk for a moment in another’s shoes. We know when such a change is real because the person has nothing to gain politically or economically but much to gain emotionally. These type of changes give us hope that as human beings truth will ultimately prevail as we strive for fairness and equality for all.
Michael Bowers, the former Attorney General for the state of Georgia, notoriously known for his anti-gay credentials, epitomized such a change of mind and heart this week. While occupying that office in the ’80’s he upheld laws that discriminated against gays. However, recently he spoke out against newly proposed legislation in Georgia that would allow personal religious faith to be used to justify discrimination of those same groups. At 73 years young he gives us hope that positive change is possible regardless of age or standing. Since he is still viewed as a powerful and respected Republican, long after his 16 year stint as the top legal mind in his state, we can believe in the adage, ‘Hope springs eternal.’
When interviewed regarding his change of position on gay rights he said simply, “I know I’m different. I’m not as mean as I used to be” and he expressed regret for the pain he had caused in the past. We have to admire a person who comes forth publicly, to shout to the world, ‘I was wrong and want to correct my error in thinking.’ I want to make things right.’
There will come a day when the remaining states will join the existing 36 and support the right for gays to marry. Mr. Bowers willingness to speak out about his change of understanding and position regarding what constitutes discrimination will have a positive effect on the when and where of it all.
For a culture that often believes that the younger among us have a hold on truth and accomplishment this statement by a former Attorney General can move mountains among his peers – a group that was raised during a time when exclusion was valued over inclusion and fear reigned supreme. His statements will serve as a lighthouse of truth that will shine through for others to find their way to a deeper knowing that the Universe doesn’t make mistakes. In our hearts we know that everyone has the right to live free of discriminatory practices but it will take all of us, regardless of age, to be brave enough to speak out and promote this truth.
Our opinions or biases were formed from scant information often heard around the family’s kitchen table as we were growing up. But when something continues to niggle at us and seems to confront those beliefs it is time to reassess why we believe as we do. Then the wiser among us will choose to challenge those biases and opinions by seeking to understanding more deeply the rest of the story. Let’s make a commitment to join the ranks of this later group and continually seek to understand while keeping in mind the importance of the age old statement, ‘Judge not lest ye be judged.’
Have a great few days!