Thursday, October 14, 2010

Intolerance in the US

First let me start of by saying to those readers who are expecting more posts about art and photography that I will be getting back on that track soon, but there are a few things I really need to get off my chest.

In recent months I have seen a growing intolerance in this country about anything that people feel is different or not what they would do.

The definition of intolerance is:

lack of toleration
unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs persons of different races or backgrounds,etc.

Synonyms include prejudice and bigotry.

Our US Constitution states:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Our country was founded on our refusal to be persecuted unjustly by the British, yet now, in 2010, our country has gotten more intolerant of different cultures, sexual preferences and of anything that puts us out or is different.

The recent news is full of intolerance. The Islamic Mosque that is being ridiculed for being too close to ground zero. Or the suicide of a young college student because his roommate thought it would be funny to expose his sexuality to the world.

In fact even last weekend while I was a crew member of the 3-Day walk for a cure, a few people were verbally abusive while they had to wait for the walkers to cross a street. What they had to do was so much more important than these walkers and their conviction to finding a cure for breast cancer.

What has happened to the compassion in this country?

All Muslims are being grouped and hated becasue of a small radical faction. They should be free to worship wherever they want. Do we start protesting all the Catholic churches because of Timothy McVeigh's bombing in Oklahoma city?

An 18 year old Rutgers University student, Tyler Clement commits suicide because he was ridiculed by his roommate and secretly filmed and then that film was posted on the internet for the world to see. If he had been with another woman there would not have been an issue but becasue his roommate was intolerant to his sexual preference he thought it fun to film him, invading his privacy and causing Tyler to take his own life.

This is the United States of America, a country that says we all have the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Well, as long as everyone around you agrees with your pursuits.

But then again, look at who we having running for office. For example, look at the current senate race in Delaware, we have Christine O'Donnell, a evangelical activist, who has characterized homosexuality as a psychological disorder and campaigned against masturbation calling it equivalent to cheating on your spouse.

She has the right to her opinion and to run for office. This is a "free" country. Let's just hope the voters in Delaware are smart enough to NOT vote her in. But be ware Delaware, she is a witch you know.

John Lennon said it right in 1968, all we need is love.

For those who know me, you know that I can be extremely cynical and not the touchy feely type, but with the current trend of this country I think we all need a little bit of love and compassion for those around us.

So lets all try to be a bit more tolerant. To hold the door for an elderly person who happens to be moving a little slower than you are. To let that car merge in the lane in front of you. To respect the sexual and religious conviction of others even if it is contrary to our own.

In the words of Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Unexpected feelings

Last weekend my wife and I participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. This is a 3 day, 60 mile walk for breast cancer. My wife signed up as a walker and I as a crew member on the route safety crew. Terri raised over $3000 for the cause a was also chosen to be a flag bearer on stage of the opening and closing ceremonies. The flag she carried was "Hope". A fitting flag as we hope for a better future and hope for a cure. There is always Hope.

My wife bravely walked through Washington DC into Maryland and back into our nations capitol just 7 days after her last radiation treatment. Her strength, courage and wonderful spirit through these 3 days encouraged me and those around us to really push through the aches and pains for this cause.

As for me, the cynic, I had a life altering experience.
I knew I was going to be a bit emotional seeing my wife up on stage, proudly showing her newly growing hair, but I never expected to meet a group of loving, caring and wonderful people as the people I met these four days.

When I originally signed up for crew, I signed up for route safety because I enjoy riding my bicycle and route safety sounded interesting and a bit challenging. What I didn't expect was to meet this DC moto crew that took me in and made me feel like I had a new family.

Our job was basically to help the walkers navigate the 60 mile trek and to get across the more dangerous intersections. I found myself dancing and joking with the walkers to help keep their spirits up as they navigate DC and the Maryland suburbs. I laughed, hugged and occasionally teared up when the walkers came by and every single one of the over 2000 walkers left something with me on my street corners. They all walked for personal reasons but the collective reason was to hopeful put an end to this disease that effects 1 in 8 women and men.

Not only did I get the inspiration from the walkers but this crew was incredible. The route safety crew is made up of of motorcyclists and bicyclists. All volunteer for this crew because they truly believe that with their efforts they will find a cure for breast cancer.

Not only if their dedication to the cause wasn't inspiring enough they also kept tabs on Terri the entire 60 miles and let her know how well she was doing every step of the way with words of encouragement and hugs. All this without me asking or saying a word.

During the closing ceremony the walkers come in through toward the stage through a gauntlet of volunteers giving high fives and hugs. The the crew walks in and the ovation we received from the walkers was something I could not have imagined. The appreciation of what we did, not only route safety but all the crews was heart warming.

Then the survivors came in and Terri walked on stage carrying her "Hope" banner and I started to loose it. Tears were free flowing and I felt my legs weaken. But then, just when I needed it most, one of my crew leaders came up behind me and hugged me tight telling me she would never stop doing this until they find a cure. Her hug and the well wishes from the rest of this amazing crew has given me hope for the future.

Terri and I have already agreed that we will be crewing the DC walk again next year and I will definitely be a part of the MOTO crew. I think we will also crew together for another walk next year.

I came hope feeling different about this disease, the cause, the Susan G. Komen organization and myself. I feel that I am truly lucky to have met such wonderful people who have quickly become friends and warriors in the fight against breast cancer.