Whose eyes do YOU see the world through?

I’ve been thinking a lot about filters for the past few weeks. When I was a teenager, I thought I wanted to be a photographer. Somehow I got a pretty good 35mm camera. (Remember those? The ones you loaded the film in and when it hit the end of the 36 exposures, the film would rewind with a whirring noise?) I experimented a lot with this camera, putting different filters over the lens to get different effects in the final prints. One would make everything look kind of rosy, another would create sparkles wherever there was light, and there were others, but I can’t remember them because those two were my favorites.

I think we all see the world through filters of our own choosing. These filters are created by outside sources. The news comes to mind. Depending on which news you watch on television or which newspaper you read or where you go on the internet, you may see the world in a different light. Is the Confederate flag an emblem of racism or Southern pride? Is gay marriage the best thing to happen to our world since the end of World War II? Or the beginning of the apocalypse? Are pro-lifers evil or is it the mother who gets the abortion?

I can’t help but come back to the filters I used to put on my old Nikon. I chose to see the world as sparkly and rose-colored, and I probably still do in many ways. I don’t watch news programs very often or read the Wall Street Journal. I know what ISIS is, but when I hear the word, I still think of the Egyptian Goddess Isis (who was a superhero with her own show in the 70s) and not the terrorist group, which, if I think too much about their evil, will cause me to cower in a corner for the better part of the day.

Poets and writers and news media color everyone’s impression of the world and have for centuries. The best example I can think of for poetry filters are Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”, a rose-tinted painting of love in the countryside, and Sir Walter Raleigh’s “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd”, a stark response based in reality that rips the romance right off Marlowe’s filter.

No matter who you are and what happens to you in your life, you see the world through your own chosen filter. But you can choose to try on a different one every now and then. Turn on FOX News from time to time. Switch to CNN for half an hour. Turn the television off and pick up a book of poetry. See the world from the other side, or at least try to.

The line is drawn, so pick a side: How Amendment One has affected my November vote.

My beautiful state of North Carolina has passed one of the most prejudicial, hate-inspired, judgmental amendments to our state constitution with the so-called “Amendment One”. By doing so, my beloved state has become the only one in the United States to have both laws and an amendment banning gay marriage. Well, if we’re going to be prejudiced, we’re going to do it thoroughly.

I am one of the thirty-nine percent who voted against this amendment. I did not vote against it because I support gay marriage, although I do. I did not vote against it because I was concerned about the possible legal ramifications for other unmarried couples or because it will make it more difficult to attract businesses. I voted against it because I love this state. I loved it even when Jesse Helms was a senator here. I loved it when it helped vote Barack Obama into office. I have always loved North Carolina and I always will.

But I don’t want it marred by hate. That’s what has happened now, and it makes me sadder than I can say. By approving Amendment One, North Carolina voters are saying that it’s our way or the high way. Get out if you don’t like it. We’re a bunch of hillbillies with guns. We legislate morality here and you damn well better obey the law.

I know what some people will say. They’ll tell me to read my Bible. Okay, but maybe you better have a second look, too. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that you should hate or judge someone for the lifestyle they choose. In fact, I think I remember from some of my Sunday School teachings the words “Thou shalt not judge” and “Love thy neighbor”. Don’t those words mean anything anymore? If they don’t, then defining marriage is not going to save our society.

North Carolina’s passage of Amendment One is a dangerous precedent. Barack Obama has now come out in support of gay marriage while his soon-to-be opponent Mitt Romney is firmly against it. This is what our political system has come to, then. The line has been drawn. No matter how much people talk about the economy and foreign affairs and who has the best curriculum vitae, it’s going to come down to whether or not you support the right of two people to make a lifelong commitment to each other even if they’re of the same sex.

I sigh when I write this because I know which side of that line I’ll come down on. I don’t support hate and prejudice, so in spite of the fact that I think Mitt Romney has some excellent qualities, I cannot afford to offer him my vote. I do not want to see my nation follow the same way my state has gone. I do not want to support anyone who might one day approve an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that will further denigrate a sector of our population that already has more than enough hatred following it around. My conscience won’t let me.

So listen to your conscience and remember your Sunday School teachings from when you were a kid and everything was simpler. (I’m sure my parents will be relieved to know I still remember some of those teachings.) I believe those are the laws we need to remember.

  • Love your neighbor. Even when he does something you don’t agree with. Even when he isn’t a straight Christian. God never said to hate Muslims and gays, did he?
  • Don’t judge others. We all make our mistakes. Both God and the U.S. Constitution give us the freedom to do that, though.
  • And one more I just remembered. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” What else does this mean but to respect each other? Respect other people’s right to live their lives and you should be able to expect the same.