Parade Behind The Hedges

One day as I sat in my yard I noticed sounds of excitement and enthusiasm on the other side of the hedges.  I had heard these noises before and I had never really questioned them.  They were just background noises.

But on that day, I suddenly needed to know about it.Parade over hedges

I stood on my tip-toes and held my chin up high, trying to peer past the physical limits of my yard, but I couldn’t.  The wall of bushes in front of me was both tall and full all around so I couldn’t see through it or over it.

I spied a staircase nearby and joy swelled in me.  That would help pick me up higher so I could see over the hedges.

I approached the stairs and stepped on the bottom step, but I still couldn’t see the show.  I went up one more, and my view opened up a little more.  I went up yet another step and another until I was just a face in the crowd standing on the stairs to enjoy the parade on the other side of the hedges.  There I stood, and watched.

I watched the most colourful, musical and creative things unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.  My mind exploded with thoughts and ideas I never knew existed.  The painted jugglers juggled, the cheerleaders practically floated through the air and the dancers pranced poetically.Parade

I became so thrilled, so excited from the energy that I couldn’t resist cheering and jumping.

Because I lost control of myself, gravity took over and pulled my body down all of the stairs and left me a bruised lump at the bottom.

I understood immediately that I did something stupid and I had no intention of repeating it.  The next time I stood on the stairs, I would have better self control.

So I rested up and recovered, and then I climbed right back up again eager to glance at a magical line up of slowly progressing entertainment again.

This time I was very careful.  I deliberately stood very still on the staircase which took a large amount of concentration.  It worked too… until a tiny car caught my eye sputtering along at a snail’s pace that one…two…three…no four full grown clowns jumped out of and danced around in a comedic show.

The excitement swellefallend in my brain as they danced and flipped around the tiny automobile and it overwhelmed my senses.  I didn’t even realize I was bouncing up and down again.

I had lost control again and I tumbled to the ground once more.

I tended to my scrapes and bruises, I stopped my wounds bleeding, all with my mind needing to know what was happening while I couldn’t see.  I had to get back up the steps again.

That was how it began.

I would climb the stairs vowing to be smarter and better.  I’d lose myself in the thrill and I’d fall down and need to heal.

I would get high, crash and then recover.

It didn’t take me long to sense the insane pattern.  Still I couldn’t resist.  Whenever I wasn’t on the staircase staring at  a world full of wonder and musical folly, I longed to be and it consumed my mind.

Eventually I grew weary of it all.  The same parade just kept wandering by and I was doomed to spend my life crawling up the stairs, jumping, and falling down and I was helpless to stop it.

I dreamed of the days before I even realized that there was something on the other side of the hedges.  I never felt as if I needed it then, and I didn’t miss it or want it at all.

The longer I spend going up and falling down, the more I felt like an idiot.  I had no self control, no pride, and no hope.  I just kept letting myself down time and time again.

Today I took a few moments to stop obsessing about the high that lets me see farther than I’m supposed to see and looked around at the people surrounding me.

I saw people who were equally as fixated on peering over the hedges.

I saw people climbing trees, sitting on branches too small to support their weight.  I saw people crowding too many on the branches, people kicking other people off of the tree and others grabbing someone else’s leg that’s higher and pulling them down to make room for themselves.  I saw people climbing higladderh only to fall down and get hurt.

I saw people leaning ladders against anything they could find and I watched others scurry to follow the first man up the ladder only to collapse into a huddled clump  of angry, hurt people.

I saw trampolines, Pogo sticks and stilts.  Anything to help people rise up and see over the hedges.

I watched people go  up and crash back down again.  I watched people get hurt, break down and cry and I witnessed people hating themselves.

Today I realized that this wasn’t happiness and that there are a lot of people who are unhappy just like me.  Today I realized that this is a vicious cycle that’s leaving us all feeling desperate, helpless and hopeless and it holds no benefit to any of us.

Yet I hang my head in shame and ascended the staircase once again because I don’t know how to stop.

That is what addiction is.

Dear Gay and Lesbian People

Last week I wrote a letter to religious straight people.  Now I have something to say about the other end of this debate.

The way you were treated in the past was wrong.  Some of you were bullied mercilessly.  I’m sure there’s still a significant amount of hatred directed at you to this day..

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry people tried to push you into living lives that weren’t good for you.

I’m sorry people told you that you couldn’t be happy because it’s against their beliefs.

I’m sorry members of your own religion shunned you.

I’m sorry you were rejected, judged, abused, and harassed over something that is, quite frankly, nobody else’s business.

I’m sorry you were made to feel guilty and ashamed over something that was out of your control.

And I’m sorry that there are still bullies today eager to hunt you down and hurt you further.

They had no right to do this to you.

So why are you so eager to do it back to them?

I’ve stood by you all this time.  I’ve been your friend, your ally, and your support.

But some of you are doing things I can’t support.

You can’t fight for a freedom to love when you target religious establishments to dump out a truckload of hate on them.

You can’t demand that a church marry you, or that a bible be changed for you.  You can’t go along destroying the lives of photographers who won’t take marriage phitos of you, or ruining the lives of B&B owners because they won’t allow unwed couples to share a room.  These people didn’t come to you and attack you, you sought them out and hurt them.

That’s bullying.

There are several churches that would not marry me.  I’m an unwed mother who’s living with her partner.  I do not desire to marry in a church that is against every aspect of my life and forcing a church to change and marry me against their will seems like a really bad start to a happy and loving marriage.  I’d rather be surrounded by people who are accepting of me because they’re loving, not because I’m threatening to destroy their lives otherwise.

What are you trying to accomplish with your bullying?  Are you trying to destroy religion because it states that your life (and mine) is a sin?

Let’s say you win.  Religion is banned.  People have to practice their religion hidden in the basement of their homes in secret.  Bibles are destroyed.  Being anti-gay is punishable by jail time.

What then?

What about the church groups that marched in the parade alongside you?

What about the innocent child who believes in God but does not hate nor fear you?

What about all of the religious people who fought among their own families and church families to stand up for you even though they were not gay themselves?

Would you trample the very people who stood up for you?

You don’t get to decide what other people believe.  You don’t get to harm them because you’re angry.  You don’t get to decide what’s right for someone else’s life.DSCF1536

If you’re being a jerk because someone was a jerk to you, than at least stop lying about it and pretending to be loving and accepting.  #samehate

If you’re preaching love an acceptance, than live it.  You can make a world of difference.  #samelove

Dear Religious Straight People

I need you to understand something…

I understand that you’re not gay.  You’ve never had to experience what it was like to be told that you can’t act certain ways because of your gender, and you’ve never been told that you shouldn’t be attracted to someone because your feelings are wrong.

Your struggles lie elsewhere in life.

You may be against the idea of man lying with another man.  You may disagree with a woman marrying a woman.  It might be against your religion.  It might make you feel uncomfortable.

But I have a few things I need to say about sexuality.

First off, as many have said before me, this is not a choice.  A person doesn’t wake up one day and decide to be attracted to Tonya instead of Tony.  Why would they choose to put themselves in a situation where they will be judged and under attack for something as silly as sexual preference?

Your religion states that being gay is a sin, or for some that acting upon the urges of being attracted to the same gender is a sin.  It’s okay to believe that.

But…and this is important….those are the guidelines to which you live your life.  If you are attracted to the same sex, that is a struggle for you to overcome that will bring you closer to or take you farther from God.  Strive to live life well.

It is not your duty to impose your beliefs or religion on anyone else.  You don’t get to make those decisions for other people.  It is wrong to refuse to include people or help people based on their sexuality.

That is bullying.

You can not pour hate all over people that disagree with some of your beliefs and call yourself a good Christian.  Nor can you assume that someone else can not do something because it’s against your religion.

Could you imagine protesting standing outside of a AA meeting with signs of hatred and sharp voices condemning those inside because they have sinned?  Or screaming at young adults that premarital sex will land them in hell.  Imagine slapping a “Sinner!” sticker on the forehead of every person you meet who’s having a cigarette.  Imagine harassing a person who’s gone through a divorce and had the nerve to move on to another husband before her first husband has died off, accusing her of adultery.  The list of sins is endless, yet we don’t draw attention to them all in a person’s every day life.

Unless they’re gay?  Why then?  Why all of the outrage over someone else’s private life?

When we’re dealing with two consenting adults that are not harming each other, why the upset?

You don’t have to live it.  You don’t even have to support it.  You can continue to strive to live your life according to the gospel you follow.

But don’t hate a gay person because they’re gay.

If you actually want to make a difference in the world and make a good name for Christians, be loving and kind towards mankind; even the elderly, the children, the homeless, the gay and lesbian people, the transgenders, the atheists and those who use words of hatred towards you.

Be religious, be strong, stand by your beliefs – but do it with love and forgiveness in your heart.

If you are one of the religious people who are being loving and accepting already, keep it up!  That’s awesome!  I know there are plenty out there shadowed by the angry ones but you will make a positive difference in the end.

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The Family Gets Offended

One evening the family sat around the dinner table eating when Little Brother let out a foul smelling fart.

“Excuse me.”  Little Brother said politely.  He didn’t mean to let one rip at the dinner table, it just sort of snuck up on him and out of him.

“That’s disgusting.”  Big Sister snarled.  “It’s rude to pass gas in the house.”

“I said excuse me.  And it was an accident.”  Little Brother said defensively.

“Of course it was an accident,”  Father piped up, “But Big Sister is right.  It is inappropriate.”

“And offensive.”  Mother added pointing with her fork.

And so it was decided, from here on out, that flatulence was banned from the house.  One could only fart outside, and anyone who failed to put their rear-end outside before bursting their stench from it was fined $2 to be added to a large jar on the dining room table.DSCF1907

This led to the family having many hurried attempts to get outside at random times and sometimes in questionable attire.  Sometimes one only had enough time to jam their bottom through the window.  They were able to see that this new rule was foolish, but it was the rule so they just went with it.

The money jar was going to go towards improvements for the family so even though it was a silly hassle it was going to benefit the entire family.

Shortly after, Little Brother noticed Big Sister reading a book from school.

“What’s that about?”  He inquired with wide, curious eyes.

“It’s a book I have to read for school.  It’s about a boy and a girl who fall in love but their families won’t let them be together, so they kill themselves.”  Big Sister summed up for her smaller sibling.  “It’s a romantic tragedy.”

“That’s horrible,”  Little Brother scrunched his nose in disgust, “They’re in love.”

“And they kill themselves.  I can’t believe they would put something horrible like that in a book.  I shouldn’t have to read this.”  Big Sister sat up.  “This isn’t appropriate and this needs to change.”

Little Brother and Big Sister took their concern to Mother and Father.

“Well, these are some valid concerns.  It does not seem to be in your best interest to allow you to read something that could be emotionally damaging.”  Father agreed.  “It’s time for us to ensure that our children only have access to good books, Mother.”

“I think it’s good to read about several things to encourage education, creativity and critical thinking.”  Mother objected.  She was fond of books, and the one that Big Sister was protesting was among her favourites.

Mother was outvoted and the family began to weed out the bad books.

DSCF1905“This one has sex in it, so it must go.”

“This one is about a boy with an imaginary friend.  We don’t want to teach our children to make things up and live in a fantasy world.”

“Clearly this one is encouraging children to jump on their fathers.  It must go.”

And so the pile of books to get rid of grew, each with a valid reason to be removed from the house for the safety of the children.

A psychology textbook was trashed so as to not offend anyone who may have mental illness and to discourage the children from developing a mental illness of their own through the power of suggestion.  Talking animals, magicians and wizards, nightmare creatures, and loving couples all found a new home in the dumpster.  History books filled to the brim with violence, slavery and war were discarded.  Comics, cartoon characters and superheroes suffered the same fate.  Science books could not prove to be an exception since they were full of reproductive parts, venomous creatures and horrific natural disasters.  Even inspirational books were considered rubbish because they told sad stories before they became happy.

In the end of this particular purge, no books remained.  Mother wept with sadness over the lost information, stories she’ll never visit again and tales never to be told now.

But it was best to protect her innocent children from the horrors of feeling unpleasant emotions.

And so it snowballed perhaps out of control over the course of two months.  One member of the family would express displeasure or offense over something and it would become banned from the household.  Many things came with fines that would collect in the large jar on the table.  Sometimes one would claim offense just out of spite to another family member that had gotten one of their favourite things banned.

Big Sister demanded that guns were violent which led to the cleansing of the house of all guns, rifles, pop guns, water guns, cap guns and the list goes on, right down to the toy soldiers with their miniature plastic guns.

This angered Little Brother who took it upon himself to become outraged at the sight of half naked under-aged boy posters that plastered the walls of Big Sister’s bedroom.  This one in particular spiraled so out of control that anything and everything that could possibly be viewed as sexual in any way was to be disposed of.  This led to works of art being destroyed, old pictures of Mother and Father from their early adult years that could be considered questionable were burnt, Big Sister’s friend who was fond of wearing slinky tank tops was no longer allowed in the house, clothing that was considered revealing was donated, and any fruit or vegetable that resembled anything sexual…even vaguely, was barred from the house.

Mother complained about the shows the family liked to watch and the ways they used the computer and so those objects no longer had a place in the home.  Video games were removed shortly after.

Father made comments about the stench of Mother’s cooking which led to a large variety of foods that could no longer be served.  When Mother mentioned how appalled she was by the sugar and preservative content of their foods, the list of foods that was permitted in the house became so tiny that variety was no longer an option.

The wall paper was removed.  The furniture was thrown away.  Toys were donated to second hand stores.  Friends were abandoned.

The money jar found a new home on the floor when the table was removed from the house.  Everyone always added to the jar when they were fined for using offensive words such as bossy, stupid, lame or ugly.  They also added to it when they made offensive smells or sounds like burping, farting, screaming, sweating or snoring.  Yet the amount of money in the jar never actually seemed to increase and so it never could be used as it was intended.

There was always going to be somebody offended by something, and even when everything was gone the family still wasn’t happy.  Instead, they were just bitter people feeling as if they’ve had their whole world taken away from them while being angry at those around them.  Their world became smaller and darker as they became more disgruntled and the smaller and darker their world got, the harder it was for them to remember how to be happy and healthy.

In the end, Mother, Father, Big Sister and Little Brother sat in the dimly lit living room on the cold hardwood floor, legs crossed and looking at each other in misery until some fool piped up “I don’t like the way you’re looking at me.” and they were all forced to gouge out their own eyes.