Around here, the Northampton City Council passed a resolution Thursday night, urging to state to pass a bill that would guarantee equal rights (or at least equal non-discrimination) for transgendered individuals.
The resolution approved by the council states that Massachusetts transgender youth, adults, and their families continue to face "pervasive discrimination and violence because of widespread prejudice" and it provides data from a recent national transgender discrimination survey to back up that claim.The resolution alone probably contains elements of honest care, political posturing and pointed protest. On its own, it is a twinkle in your daddy's eye, suggesting something might, but only might, be done. But that's how babies get their start -- as a twinkle in their daddy's (and/or mama's) eye.
Discrimination implies inequality, in this case an inequality laced with an unpalatable nastiness.
Equality means things ARE the same. 2=2 is an expression of equality.
Politically and socially, there are those who may cry out for "equality" and it sounds fine. It's a wonderful rallying cry.
But I think that individuals must concede -- assuming they want a little happiness -- that equality is not at all what they want. Equality scares the crap out of them. Equality threatens the very foundations of their being. This is not a criticism. It is just something that I think is worth noticing and coming to terms with.
As Martin Luther King once expressed it approximately, "What's wrong with the world is not what scares people. What really scares them is that everything is all right."
Think it through:
Who would I be if equality ruled the roost? How could I possibly define or refine or elevate or denigrate myself if equality held sway?
As a public policy matter, "I would like to be a good person."
As a private policy matter, "Equality?! Fuck that! I'm me and I'm different!"
I don't see this as something to get excited about. It's not good or bad, right or wrong ... it's just the truth for the moment and it deserves consideration.
Things are different, one from the next. They simply are not the same. A skinny person is not fat and vice versa. The sky is not the earth and vice versa. I am not you and vice versa. Anger is not love and vice versa. Joy is not sorrow and vice versa. Things are different ... not equal.
And yet there can be an ill-defined yearning for equality. Things are equal ... but I haven't figured out exactly how at the moment. And more than that, the moment I assess the equality I claim to seek, it's spooky or worse. Where would I be without my "me?" How could anyone recognize me? Hell, how could I recognize myself? If I were equal, who would I be?
This is not just an intellectual exercise -- toying with a play-actor's approach to smarmy humility. It's just something to investigate honestly. If things are different, how can they be equal? Inequalities seem to foster unhappiness, but what other choice is there? I'd love to be a good person, but I gotta be me.
To my mind, this is an honest koan -- an insoluble riddle that individuals, assuming they have the wherewithal, need to solve. Why? Because the unhappiness and uncertainty nourished by distinctions outweighs the certainties inequality and distinction can seem to provide. In order to approach the problem requires each to put his or her own life, his or her own set of definitions and distinctions, on the line. It's a pisscutter because there is no out-thinking the problem. This is blood and bone.
It takes courage and patience and doubt. Sometimes inequality is just too alluring, too comforting, too socially acceptable. But sometimes the inequalities that are socially acceptable are no longer acceptable. It's time to get to work. And if I had to guess, I'd say meditation is the proper tool for the job.
Will it work? Is there an 'equality' pot of gold at the end of the meditation rainbow? Some say yes. Some say no. None of that matters. What matters is whether someone will make a seemingly-suicidal effort -- a pedal to the metal effort -- to find out what is true and what is painfully imaginary.
Or anyway that's my thought.