Source of Inspiration

Do not allow national aggressive policies,
religious dogma, spiritual apathy to
override the knowing in your heart.
We must cease to accept the unacceptable.

Within each of us is a knowing of
“right and wrong.” We must clear
out the false ideologies that sway
us with empty promises masking aggression.
Think carefully before you participate
in corrupt nationalism, racism, sexism,
militarism and all other “isims” that demean
the value of any other life form.

Do not be afraid to put your spiritual
hands in the muddy waters of corruption,
greed, and the consuming desire for power.
Lift your voice against those who enslave.
Weep your tears for those who suffer. Step
forward, my friend, take action. Look
around you–home, neighborhood, community,
or more. Join others to work for a world
where we respect and care for all life.
Each of us can and must make a difference
if we wish…

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Guest Blogger: Robyn Harper of Gay Girl Revolution

wrote a blog not so long ago about marriage, outlining my thoughts on what I believe are the potential effects of referring to marriage by any other name. Carrie Underwood’s recent show of support for equality illustrates that the agenda is very much “gay marriage.”
Underwood joins a growing list of public figures in that regard. It was heart-warming to read of her using her voice for good in more ways than one. I speak as a biased fan, having followed since her early days on American Idol. Nonetheless, her support is extremely valid and welcomed, and it is hoped that her fine example has the effect of encouraging others to join her in speaking out in favor of equal treatment, and speaking out for what they believe to be right.
Underwood said, “As a married person myself, I don’t know what it’s like to be told I can’t marry somebody I love, and want to marry.” The beauty of the songstress’ words lies in the simplicity of the sentiment. She effectively reduced the concept of marriage down to its basic form, its basic element, when she said, “I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love.”
Her language speaks of fairness, togetherness, and equality. Her words were not only refreshing but serve to simplify the matter. Marriage is about love, not gender or sexual orientation. Yet the headline read, “Carrie Underwood: US country queen speaks out for gay marriage.” The term “gay marriage” most definitely has momentum.
It is my belief that when we talk about “gay marriage” and “gay rights” as if they were separate from marriage and human rights, we are suggesting, if not creating, separateness. Our heterosexual peers, whom we are striving to join on an equal footing in the eyes of the law, by definition cannot partake in gay marriage nor benefit from gay rights — because these people are not gay. There is a separateness. That separateness, that difference in perception, is precisely what we want to overcome. We are all human beings. We are all deserving of the same and equal human rights.
Our efforts for equality are founded on and have always been based on the notion of equal treatment. How can we campaign to be treated the same when we ourselves call it something different? We’re not calling it marriage but “gay marriage,” yet we’re campaigning for full and equal marriage rights. The terminology currently in use excludes our heterosexual counterparts. We are campaigning for inclusion; why, then, do our campaigns suggest exclusion?
The phrases “gay marriage” and “gay rights” don’t apply across the board. These phrases apply to gay people. Marriage and human rights are applicable to us all as human beings, but not yet available to us all by way of law, and that’s what underlies our pursuit for justice: to be treated equally and without differentiation. We want equal treatment regardless of our sexual orientation. How, then, can marriages and rights be “gay”?
I’m asking whether it’s fruitful to separate ourselves by virtue of our sexual orientation. We’re fond of the slogan “love is love.” Therefore, whether a marriage is made up of two women, two men, or a man and a woman shouldn’t matter, nor should it be cause for differentiation, because marriage is marriage. Again, marriage is about love, not gender or sexual orientation.
Where did the construct “gay marriage” come from? Who created it? Who coined the phrase? Was it the media, marriage-equality supporters, or the opposition? I must bow to superior knowledge in this regard. I don’t know where the phrase came from, but what I do know is that marriage and gay marriage cannot be the same thing; the latter applies to gay people only, but the former can include us all equally.
To suggest that I’m averse to the use of the term “gay” is to misunderstand me. I simply fail to see how my sexual orientation should be attached to any human right I choose to exercise, be it connected to my education, my property, my voting rights, my work, or, indeed, my marriage. My sexual orientation, my belonging to the LGBT community, will always be a very proud part of my own personal history. Many communities make up our society, and we all belong to wider society equally. It is our diversity and our individuality that facilitate making our contribution to the richness of the human race a very valuable one.
On a personal note, I remain hopeful. When the day eventually arrives, if one of us opts for tradition and goes down on one knee, I don’t see a scenario of either one of us asking of the other, “Will you ‘gay’ marry me?” No, whether it’s her or I, the question will be, “Will you marry me?” When our momentous day follows, we won’t be exercising a gay right. We’ll be exercising a human right, a personal freedom, both of us, as human beings, underpinned by the basic element of marriage as I see it, and that is love.


by Maurice Ogden

Into our town the Hangman came,
Smelling of gold and blood and flame.
And he paced our bricks with a diffident air,
And built his frame in the courthouse square.

The scaffold stood by the courthouse side,
Only as wide as the door was wide;
A frame as tall, or little more,
Than the capping sill of the courthouse door.

And we wondered, whenever we had the time,
Who the criminal, what the crime
That the Hangman judged with the yellow twist
of knotted hemp in his busy fist.

And innocent though we were, with dread,
We passed those eyes of buckshot lead —
Till one cried: “Hangman, who is he
For whom you raised the gallows-tree?”

Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,
And he gave us a riddle instead of reply:
“He who serves me best,” said he,
“Shall earn the rope of the gallows-tree.”

And he stepped down, and laid his hand
On a man who came from another land.
And we breathed again, for another’s grief
At the Hangman’s hand was our relief

And the gallows-frame on the courthouse lawn
By tomorrow’s sun would be struck and gone.
So we gave him way, and no one spoke,
Out of respect for his Hangman’s cloak.

The next day’s sun looked mildly down
On roof and street in our quiet town,
And stark and black in the morning air
Was the gallows-tree in the courthouse square.

And the Hangman stood at his usual stand
With the yellow hemp in his busy hand;
With his buckshot eye and his jaw like a pike
And his air so knowing and business-like.

And we cried, “Hangman, have you not done
Yesterday, with the foreign one?”
Then we fell silent, and stood amazed,
“Oh, not for him was the gallows raised.”

He laughed a laugh as he looked at us:
“Did you think I’d gone to all this fuss
To hang one man? That’s a thing I do
To stretch a rope when the rope is new.”

Then one cried “Murder!” and one cried “Shame!”
And into our midst the Hangman came
To that man’s place. “Do you hold,” said he,
“with him that was meant for the gallows-tree?”

And he laid his hand on that one’s arm.
And we shrank back in quick alarm!
And we gave him way, and no one spoke
Out of fear of his Hangman’s cloak.

That night we saw with dread surprise
The Hangman’s scaffold had grown in size.
Fed by the blood beneath the chute,
The gallows-tree had taken root;

Now as wide, or a little more,
Than the steps that led to the courthouse door,
As tall as the writing, or nearly as tall,
Halfway up on the courthouse wall.

The third he took — we had all heard tell —
Was a usurer, and an infidel.
“What,” said the Hangman “have you to do
With the gallows-bound, and he a Jew?”

And we cried out, “Is this one he
Who has served you well and faithfully?”
The Hangman smiled: “It’s a clever scheme
to try the strength of the gallows-beam.”

The fourth man’s dark, accusing song
Had scratched our comfort hard and long;
“And what concern,” he gave us back.
“Have you for the doomed — the doomed and Black?”

The fifth. The sixth. And we cried again,
“Hangman, Hangman, is this the man?”
“It’s a trick,” he said. “that we hangmen know
For easing the trap when the trap springs slow.”

And so we ceased, and asked no more,
As the Hangman tallied his bloody score.
And sun by sun, and night by night,
The gallows grew to monstrous height.

The wings of the scaffold opened wide
Till they covered the square from side to side;
And the monster cross-beam, looking down,
Cast its shadow across the town.

Then through the town the Hangman came,
Through the empty streets, and called my name —
And I looked at the gallows soaring tall,
And thought, “There is no one left at all

For hanging, and so he calls to me
To help pull down the gallows-tree.”
So I went out with right good hope
To the Hangman’s tree and the Hangman’s rope.

He smiled at me as I came down
To the courthouse square through the silent town.
And supple and stretched in his busy hand
Was the yellow twist of the hempen strand.

And he whistled his tune as he tried the trap,
And it sprang down with a ready snap —
And then with a smile of awful command
He laid his hand upon my hand.

“You tricked me. Hangman!,” I shouted then,
“That your scaffold was built for other men…
And I no henchman of yours,” I cried,
“You lied to me, Hangman. Foully lied!”

Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,
“Lied to you? Tricked you?” he said. “Not I.
For I answered straight and I told you true —
The scaffold was raised for none but you.

For who has served me more faithfully
Then you with your coward’s hope?” said he,
“And where are the others who might have stood
Side by your side in the common good?”

“Dead,” I whispered. And amiably
“Murdered,” the Hangman corrected me:
“First the foreigner, then the Jew…
I did no more than you let me do.”

Beneath the beam that blocked the sky
None had stood so alone as I.
The Hangman noosed me, and no voice there
Cried “Stop!” for me in the empty square.