Recently while talking with my sister I said, “I feel like the issues of the LGBTQ community aren’t a really high priority problem”. She obviously asserted that this position might be due to the fact that I am not transgendered or gay etc… and I understand this. I totally sympathize with those who feel like outcasts in the world, maybe even empathize when I can. I understand that walking around every day worrying about the repercussions of what gender you identify with or are attracted to can become your toxic epicenter of thought. But I also think about what these problems look like in relation to the past and other parts of the world in the present. I disagree with the notion of “America! Love it or leave it!”, but I also disagree with the notion that America is an awful place, which I feel is at least a growing sentiment among Americans, especially in light of the election. Being skeptical of ones country is necessary for progress; if you don’t like something, change it. And America changes a lot. My parents were alive in a time where one of my best friends would be considered less than human and wouldn’t be allowed to go to the same school as me. Now? Arguments break out on the subject of whether racism still exists! (It does, but the existence of this argument indicates dramatic progress, though more is definitely to come).
Also, I’d like to point out that there are BIG problems that aren’t “real problems” when looked at relativistically. Do you think that the people of the land in Soviet Russia during the Cold War were worried about nuclear apocalypse? No, they were worried about surviving Stalin’s great purges and not starving to death. This is an example of a tremendously big problem that is actually a luxury to be worried about (Wouldn’t have thought nuclear holocaust a luxury).
So, when I say “I feel like the issues of the LGBTQ community aren’t a high priority problem”, I’m not saying it’s not a problem, but this is what I’m picturing. I picture a group of 100 people living in a small building with 900 other people living in a building half that size across the street. The 100 people are living in relative luxury to the other 900 people who are living poverty. The 100 people are bickering about minor issues such what jokes are okay or who gets to be made fun of on Saturday Night Live. The 900 people would look at those people and say, “Those problems are not really that big of problems, I just lost my child to malaria and I haven’t enough money to feed the other four; that’s a problem”. So, I understand that there’s always somebody worse off than you, but there are people in the world who are really worse off than you.
And I’m not asserting that LGBTQ issues are not problems that need to be dealt with, and I’m also not asserting that we can’t simultaneously work on multiple issues, what I’m saying is that like nuclear war it’s easy to forget that it’s a luxury to be worried about your gender identity. It doesn’t really matter what your neighbor thinks of your same-sex marriage if both of you are slowly starving to death from economic circumstance (unless of course you live in a society where you would be murdered for being transgendered or gay, that is a problem, but America is now certainly not categorized as such). I used LGBTQ as an example, but this extends to other issues as well such as people who believe that comedy is dying because of political correctness. Okay sure, even if it is, it’s a luxury for the problem to even exist.
And America comes long ways in short times. It’s one of the youngest countries on the planet, yet it is the leader of global affairs (even if the stats don’t support it at times, see what happens if a country’s politicians disagree with America’s agenda, good or bad.) And if you still agree that America is a sh**hole country to speak presidentially, than see that despite separating immigrants from their children and putting them in cages or making a developing country the battle ground for a war to protect economic interests or any other atrocity were currently committing, Americans aren’t seeking asylum; we are asylum.
Overall, my point is that it’s okay that not every issue is as important as the Civil Rights Movement; there’s a gradient. If you’re more liberal, you could probably agree that Christian persecution isn’t a “real problem” (that combination of words is essentially an oxymoron in the developed world). If you’re more conservative than you could probably agree that using proper gender pronouns isn’t a “real problem” (Personally, I think your just an a**hole, nothing more and nothing less, if you refuse to use someones preferred pronouns, but that’s beside the point). Another example is my interest in space exploration and science; it’s a luxury to be worried about making humanity multi-planetary to escape the inevitable death of life on Earth, you can’t do that if your worried about where to sleep every night. Another is college; college is extremely important to me so I can do what I want to do with my life, but it’s not a real problem. Even being worried about what to do with your life isn’t a real problem.
It should go without saying that this observation is by no means a reason not to make progress in whatever it is that is important to you. The Mercury Thirteen were a group of 13 women who were potential candidates for the NASA Mercury program. They proved that they were equals in all physical and mental regards. Misogyny is what kept these miraculous women from flying when Lyndon B. Johnson eventually canceled the women’s participation in the program after many hearings. I have nothing but respect for those truly incredible and brave women. Even though it is privileged to want to be an astronaut, it DOES NOT diminish the important role they played in helping equalize the genders. I think it’s what makes this country so great is that we fight tooth and nail for what we don’t have, never settling for less. I simply think that it’s important to recognize what we have regardless of what we don’t. I have all the bottom levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs completed and chances are, if you live in America, you do too; it’s a privilege to be able to fill the rest of it and I think it’s important to recognize how far we’ve come so that we can go even further.
If you disagree comment below or email me; I love seeing what different people have to say.