Skimming through some old journals recently, I came across an entry documenting—even bragging about—the fact that I had made phone calls advocating a political candidate who supported laws allowing landlords to discriminate against homosexuals. (This was in Washington State where candidates with alternate views existed). I also attended a school board meeting to oppose the new sex education program.
I guess I shouldn’t be shocked that I’ve changed my views about these and many other issues over the years. Over 30 years have passed with many new experiences and new information gleaned since that time. It would be surprising—even depressing—if my mind had not changed on a few matters.
Why wouldn’t I change my mind about homosexuality when I learned it has a genetic component and is not necessarily contagious? I also learned that the gentle cousin who played dolls with me instead of cowboys with my brother died of AIDS, and that a good friend’s daughter is Lesbian. Knowing a real gay and Lesbian altered my belief that child abuse is a prime factor in homosexual tendencies.
Naturally, I changed my mind about sex ed after raising my own kids and learning firsthand how awkward it is for the most well-meaning, most-enlightened parents to talk to their own children about sex. (I admit I was never most-enlightened parent, but I did qualify as well-meaning). Unfortunately, my well-meaning advice came to, “Don’t do it,” and I closed my enlightened eyes to reality that didn’t match my wistful thinking.
As the saying goes, “Only a fool won’t change her mind when faced with new evidence.” In real life learning isn’t a smooth incline with no bumps, dips, and digressions. Of course, I no longer see either homosexuality or sex education as great evils to combat, but I do see myself in the young woman who made phone calls and attended meetings on those issues. Currently, my focus is on clean air and government ethics. Although my issues have changed, my core beliefs in working for a stronger, better community have not.
Yes, that was me supporting discrimination and opposing sex ed years ago. I’m still the same person, and I need to see people on opposing sides of my current issues with the same tolerance I have for my younger self. Maybe someday they’ll be as wise as I am now.