It's Not That Complicated
The world is one big shade of gray. The longer humans live, the more we evolve, the more complicated things seem to get. In this country alone, Americans struggle every day with complex issues on large and small scales – health care, seemingly endless conflicts with faraway nations, how to feed a family of four solely on unemployment, and on and on.
Perhaps it’s because so many issues have become so complicated, that we feel the need to complicate things that simply are not complicated. A few cases in point:
Gay Marriage. People can say what they want about why gay marriage should remain illegal in most states. Some say it’s going to cause American families to decay. Others cite religious reasons. I’ve even heard someone say that gay marriage is going to adversely affect Social Security because, if gay people are allowed to marry, there will be a surge in the number of eligible dependents. What this all boils down to is discrimination and scare tactics. Let’s face it, the nuclear family has been decaying for a long time. You want to talk about how the Bible indicates that homosexuality is immoral? Instead, why don’t we talk about biblical excerpts that direct the faithful to love one another and refrain from judging their neighbors? As far as Social Security goes, its future is uncertain. No one writing for 30POV knows whether the program will even be around when they hit retirement age. To say that gay people – you know, people who have jobs and pay into Social Security just like straight people – will unduly burden the system just smacks of stupidity and fear-mongering.
At its core, gay marriage is about love. It’s about our country recognizing the inalienable rights of each and every one of its citizens. It’s about further eradicating the separate-but-equal phenomenon that keeps rearing its ugly head in the land of the (supposedly) free. I mean, when you compare the number of states that allow first cousins to marry to the number of states that allow gay couples to marry, this entire subject becomes very uncomplicated, indeed.
Eating Right. Last month Oprah did a show called “Before You Grocery Shop Again: Food 101” that featured Michael Pollan, as well as Alicia Silverstone and Chipotle founder and chief executive Steve Ells. The episode was designed to educate people about food – where it comes from, what we should be eating and how the Western diet is hurting so many Americans. Pollan, smart man that he is – he’s won a bajillion awards, wrote numerous best-sellers, was formerly executive editor of Harper’s Magazine and is now a knight professor at UC Berkeley – has given all of us seven words to live by: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I mean, does it get less complicated than that? That doesn’t mean that you have to stop eating meat or give up the occasional sinful snack. It just means that we need to eat things that grow naturally on our planet. We don’t need to be so afraid of fat. We should be far more fearful of foods that never rot, of items that sport ingredient lists a mile long, of the antibiotics being pumped into much of the meat we eat because the demand for chickens and cows is so great.
Prom Night. Have any of you guys seen “Prom Night in Mississippi”? It’s a documentary that takes place in Morgan Freeman’s hometown of Charleston, Miss. Essentially, up until a few years ago, the local high school had separate proms – one for white students and one for black students. Even though the school was racially integrated in the 1970s (although I believe integration was mandated in the 1950s), and even though white students accounted for only 30 percent of the school, the tradition was maintained well into the 21st century. Freeman realized how incredibly stupid the situation was and offered to pay for the senior prom. He’d made the offer once before and was ignored, but he felt compelled to try again. The second time, his offer was accepted and the documentary was born.
It’s amazing how the history of racism in the South deeply affected what is, at face value, a very uncomplicated situation. In a large chunk of the country, the scenario goes a little something like this: You have a bunch of kids. They’re all seniors. They attend the same school. Toward the end of the year they plan a prom. Dresses and corsages are purchased. Tuxes and stretch limos are rented. The seniors have some buffet-style food and do the Stanky Leg (or whatever) on the dance floor. The end.
Seems simple. Hell, even the kids in Charleston recognized how simple it all should have been. Most of them wanted an integrated prom – it was their parents and the school board who were opposed. Let’s hope Mr. Freeman helped set the standard for future proms. I think kids, especially those in their senior year of high school, deserve better than dealing with the ignorance and hatred spewing forth from people who are supposed to be teaching them the ways of life.
Marijuana Legalization. I know we’re not supposed to write about ourselves in this post, but I have to say that this issue drives me positively BONKERS. Listen, pot has been around for a really, really, reallllllllly long time. It doesn’t kill people. It makes really sick people feel better, not to mention that it increases appetite – a good thing if you’re ill, have no interest in eating and are wasting away. Meanwhile, tobacco and alcohol are legal in this here United States. We’re paying out the ass to treat smokers who have acquired tobacco-related diseases. People get injured or killed all the time due to drunk drivers. Men continue to beat women and each other while they’re on drunken benders. While those guys are at the bar, the stoners are at home, sitting on their couches, eating Triscuits straight out of the box, watching reruns of “That ’70s Show” and playing Super Mario Bros. on Wii. The smart, very uncomplicated thing that should be done is to make cigarettes illegal, legalize marijuana in every state and then tax the shit out of it. As it is, cigarettes are hella expensive – about 10 bucks a pack in downtown Chicago – and people continue to pay for them. People across the country would pay a pretty hefty price for weed (especially the kind stuff) if it was made readily available to them. Hell, people pay a hefty price for it now and are risking their freedom to purchase and use it. U.S. Government, please get smart, get your act together, legalize the shit and focus on ridding the country of drugs that are doing real damage to our citizens.