Anthem

me and dadDedicated to my father, the first man I ever loved who – along with my mother – taught me how to love and treat ALL people well.

There exists a day and a time in our lives when we each – when we all, hopefully – discover our voice. Until that day, we, like the thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of others bend and sway in the breeze like so many shafts of wheat or strands of seagrass beating against one another in the heat of desperation. And often, when we finally speak, we make a wretched mess of ourselves. But, the point remains. We – each one of us – finally says something heartfelt, hard-won, unique, our own. And, to that end, I suggest we all – each and every one of us – speak up now or forever hold our peace.

Perhaps I am the only one that feels this way now, but aren’t you fed up? Doesn’t the status quo today stink with the rancid stench of so much hateful rhetoric and actions that you can barely catch – what we used to call – a breath of fresh air? Quite literally, in the aftermath of everything from the twisted wreckage of exhausted relationships to a political climate that promises only social, cultural divisiveness and apparent certain total damnation – of nuclear proportions – of everyone on the planet, we actually accept a reality presented to us by so many hatemongers that we willingly surrender our voices. Do we really hate ourselves – individually and collectively – so much that we just give up ever finding peace, solace, and true love? Really? “Here and now” demonstrates the best we can do as individuals, communities, nations, a planet awash in a universe of hate and discommunication (Yeah, I made up a new word. Think about it.)?

Attempting to understand the current state of affairs the planet – within the perfectly imperfect pristine environment of our all-knowing universe – finds itself in today, I, for one, refuse to accept the status quo. After fifty-seven and a half years on the planet, I have lived and fought too hard to let hate rule the day. As an openly gay man, who – in my lifetime – witnessed everything, if sometimes only peripherally, from the cold war and the sexual revolution of the 1960s to the rise of disco and homosexual culture in the 1970s (including the onset of GRIDS (Gay-Related Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome), eventually de-gay-ified (as it should be) to AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome), since anyone who participates in sexual activity – gay and straight – may acquire the virus that causes the disease) and beyond, I stand appalled at the condition of our humanity.

Sure, I hear the naysayers – on both sides of our amazingly and increasingly divisive debates (“dialogs” offers an all-too-generous description) – proclaim their “rights” to free speech, but – really – when do we finally stop “hating” and accept the fact that the global community is comprised of a handful of races made up of two sexes? Even the whitest white and the blackest black men and women – often – stand side by side one another on street corners, in supermarket and bank lines, and subway cars. Heterosexuals and homosexuals, women and men, all inhabit the same tiny, blue planet . . . everyday. For fitful decades, centuries and eons, we’ve all existed on the same planet. Love and hate existed, too. Today, to my mind anyway, the recognition and acknowledgment of the differences should be not only minimal, but non-existent or, better yet, celebrated. Hell, I’m my own league of nations with blood apparently mixed up of most everyone, including white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, brown Mexican Catholics, red Native Americans, black Africans, Danes, Frenchmen, Scots, and Spaniards.

Technology creates the smallest world ever. We can see into, albeit virtually, a world a half a world away via webcams. Still, there exist people who – due to some apparent deep-seated, yet, I dare suggest, incorrect, ignorant and exclusive beliefs – prefer to proclaim their dominance due to the color of their skin, the person(s) with whom they choose to enjoy sexual activity and the god they worship. And, some are white, some are black, and many are some color, race in between. At the end of the day, the planet, the universe, our lifetime, their common denominator is hate. I, for one, refuse to join that bandwagon. The irony exists; however, that the haters all share the same ride. They have for centuries.

So, though most things may never change – since they have already persisted for centuries – I simply challenge those of us who love unconditionally to stand up, step forward and speak our minds, our hearts. I used to believe that the majority of the people who comprise the planet believe and act as all-inclusive, loving individuals; however, I now know the actual percentage is between 30 to 50 percent. Looking at voting data from most any election anywhere on the planet demonstrates that conclusion. From Brexit to our most recent election for the President of the United States of America, those who vote either vote for democracy or divisiveness, love or hate, at a near perfectly split fifty/fifty percent. Including those who don’t vote the numbers apparently divide more closely into thirds: lovers, haters, and, I guess, the ambivalent (those who’ve given up?).

At the end of each of our every days and, most-assuredly, at the end of our lives, we all will look back and take account of our actions – our hopes, our wishes, our desires, our loves and our hates – and, forced to take responsibility, must face ourselves, our lovers, and our gods and either make our final peace or our final war. I hope we can each make our final peace. I know I will.

Towards further demonstration, I offer the following story. Whether it speaks “the truth” or not doesn’t matter. What matters is that it is an honest fable, an anthem, a true story of the heart. With all I’ve communicated before this – in this article – this story provides a real-life example of what all of the conflict – personal and universal – may manifest.

First, the story cautions that you – each and every one of us – carefully choose what we teach our children. Next, and before teaching our children, choose carefully what we teach and tell ourselves. Remember, your thoughts and feelings are your beliefs. Choose your thoughts and feelings carefully. And finally, the story recommends you choose especially carefully what you choose to say and how you choose to act; since, once a word is spoken or an action is taken you cannot take it back. Simply, live with intention informed by integrity.

And, the story simply goes . . . there once was a young child, raised by well-meaning parents to believe and act in very specific and certain ways. As the child grew to become an adult, feelings of independence arose within the child’s mind and heart. Conflict, between what the child learned from parents, teachers, and members of the community and the thoughts and feelings the child experienced, caused great inner turmoil, cognitive dissonance. As a result, the child grew into an adult who – unknown to the adult – was riddled with self-doubt and self-loathing. Words came out of the adult’s mouth, but the adult had no voice. Words came out of the adult’s mouth, but the adult had no voice. Eventually, the adult exhibited great symptoms of physical pains and handicaps. Along the way the adult associated with only those like the adult, had sex with only those adults with whom the adult “should,” and thought: “What happens if I speak my own truth?” Now, how the story ends is up to you. Either choose your own voice and speak it or choose complicity. In the end, you must live with yourself, your choices, your hates, your loves, your story. You choose.

For, during our most private moments, our darkest hours, our most despicable actions, we all have something or many things that we hate, whether we like this fact about ourselves or not. If we’re honest with ourselves, we must admit this fact. That being said – brought into the light, acknowledged – each one of us possesses the power to turn that hate into love. These emotions – love and hate – are the same; therefore, I suggest, learn to turn your hates into loves. It’s not too late to make your story a love story, a love song, an anthem for you to share with the world.

Inspiration . . . this article manifested after living fifty-seven and a half years and twelve days of life on the planet earth while taking a 360-degree view of the current state of the world today (MY view), and listening repeatedly to fifteen of Maria McKee’s greatest songs while driving the 260 miles – round trip – to and from Naples, FL yesterday. Of those songs (ALL inspirational to this writing), I leave you with the one that best expresses my simplest desire, the one that I hope I am best at expressing, and the one that I’ll retract in a heartbeat when it is no longer cherished . . . “Shelter.”

Shelter
written by Steven Van Zandt and Maria Louisa McKee

Well, all right,
you gave it all up for a dream.
Fate proved unkind
to lock the door and leave no key.
You’re unsure.
Well, baby, I’m scared, too.
When the world crushes you . . .

[Chorus]

Let me be you’re Shelter Shelter
from the storm outside.
Let me be your Shelter Shelter
from the endless night.

Disillusion has an edge so sharp.
It tears at your soul
and leaves a stain upon your heart.
I need you to wash mine clean.
You’ve felt it, too.
And you need me.

[Chorus]

Let me be you’re Shelter Shelter
from the storm outside.
Let me be your Shelter Shelter
from the endless night.

Your struggle with darkness has left you blind.
I’ll light the fire in your eyes.

[Chorus]

Let me be you’re shelter Shelter
from the storm outside.
Let me be your shelter Shelter
from the endless night.

Your struggle with darkness has left you blind.
I’ll light the fire in your eyes.

[Chorus]

Let me be you’re Shelter Shelter
from the storm outside.
Let me be your Shelter Shelter
from the endless night.

Let me be your Shelter Shelter Shelter Shelter Shelter

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