Peabody and Sherman: August 2103

“Gee Mr. Peabody, what is that big machine?”

“It’s called the Way-Back Machine Sherman, and I’m taking us to the 1950s for a history lesson.”

“What was happening then?”

“Well Sherman, society and the church were consumed with a big issue. It seems that a so-called ‘Black Agenda’ had developed when some upstart African-American people decided that they deserved the same civil rights as white people. Some even thought they should be able to marry white folks. Government leaders tried to stop them and church leaders used the Bible to justify white supremacy.”

“They didn’t really believe that whites were superior, did they?”

“I don’t know what they believed, but eventually racial bigotry began to subside. Now we have to make another stop because there’s something else I want to show you.”

“Where to now Mr. Peabody?”

“We are going to the 1990s. Now society and the church were consumed with another big issue. It seems that a so-called ‘Homosexual Agenda’ had developed and some upstart gays and lesbians decided that they deserved the same civil rights as heterosexual people. Some even thought they should be able to marry other gay or lesbian folks. Government leaders tried to stop them and church leaders used the Bible to justify punishing homosexuals.”

“Oh Mr. Peabody, surely people had learned by then not to discriminate against people who were different.”

“Actually Sherman, it wasn’t until the beginning of the 21st Century that enough people began to understand that everyone should be treated equally.”

“So what happened Mr. Peabody?”

“Well, Sherman, after years of argument the U.S. Supreme Court finally decriminalized homosexual behaviors. Shortly thereafter Canada legalized gay marriages. Then states began extending civil rights to gays, lesbians and transgender people. Almost overnight, people began to have hope for the future. Organizations formed and lobbied intensively to change governmental agencies, corporations and churches. Individuals who had always remained quiet discovered they had meaningful voices. Groups that used to bicker over their differences began to forge alliances to seek acceptance for all. Grass roots movements sprang up everywhere as people recognized the power of their sheer numbers and withheld their support from organizations that were unresponsive. Youth groups helped lead the drive to return relevance to our institutions. People everywhere began to throw the rascals out.”

“Wow Mr. Peabody. How did regular people overcome those in power?”

“It was very interesting, Sherman. Despite some very nasty verbal sniping from conservative bastions, the people didn’t riot or resort to violence. Nonetheless, there was a pervasive unwillingness to tolerate the charades of the power brokers any longer. They knew that democracy wasn’t a spectator sport and so they just got involved in very large numbers.

“People started insisting on truth telling. Instead of remaining cynical, they required open, honest communication. The spin-doctors who continued to obfuscate (isn’t that a great word Sherman?) were ousted from positions of influence.

“People started insisting on real freedom of religion. Instead of linking obedience to God with democracy, they demanded a tolerant, secular, pluralistic democracy. Anyone who attempted to impose his or her religious beliefs through government regulation was pushed firmly aside.

“People started insisting on dialog. Instead of remaining apathetic about repeated gay-bashing sound bites, they strove for mutual, serious examination of the evidence. The hard-core dogmatics that refused discourse and clung to discord, were recalled from positions of authority.

“People started insisting on an end to discrimination. Instead of accepting discrimination against some unpopular splinter groups, they required equal treatment for all. Hypocrisy was placed on life support.

“It was an incredible time, but what many people don’t know is that it was at that time that the Declaration of Interdependence was born.”

“Oh come on Mr. Peabody. Everybody knows that the Declaration of Independence happened in the late 1700s!”

“Ah Sherman, I said Interdependence not Independence. Now everyone understands that it’s about having the freedom to be myself coupled with the responsibility to ensure that everyone has the same freedom so long as I do not use my freedom to impair someone else’s freedom. It took a long time to learn that lesson, but it was worth the struggle.”

“What a great history lesson Mr. Peabody! I’m sure glad so many people got the message and worked so hard. They sure made my life better in the 22nd century. Thanks pioneers of Interdependence!”

I am learning that you and I can fix the world. It means headaches, hard work, problems, frustration, failures, and anxiety. It also means a better world for our children and for us. My personal focus has been to raise the consciousness of my congregation to the concerns of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people. We had a special reconciliation service in February and have had at least one LGBT article in every edition of our church paper since then. I conducted two programs at my church as Rachel, which was the first time the congregation had seen me in a dress in church. All of these actions have helped to stretch the congregation and gain greater empathy for LGBT issues. I intend to continue these efforts and extend them to the United Methodist denomination and to local governmental agencies.

I believe that we can all become the leaders that our society needs so desperately. I believe that we can replace control, money and power with the principles of justice, liberty and love. I believe that if we live by our principles and teach them to our children, Sherman’s world will truly be a better place for everyone. I believe in the following quote from The Way of the Bull by Leo Buscaglia:

“Don’t spend your precious time asking, ‘Why isn’t the world a better place?’ It will only be time wasted. The question to ask is, ‘How can I make it better?’ To that there is an answer.”

There is an incredible array of organizations that address the spiritual and social issues related to the LGBT community. Check them out.

Join one. Work for them. Support them. Make the world better.