Take My Hand, Come With Me

You know, I love a good patriotic song as much as anyone. I mean The Stars and Stripes Forever is pretty irresistible. And the 1812 Overture? WOW. Even God Bless America, despite its god-bothering, is pretty great.

But, honestly, you know what song represents what I want my country to be? Free to Be You and Me. I’ve loved this song since I first heard it as child in the ’70s (the 1970s, you smart alecs…) I still listen to it pretty regularly and it often shuffles onto my iPod at the gym. And it always gets me all misty-eyed.

Part of this, of course, is the nostalgia for the uncomplicated life of childhood. But the lyrics, simple and sweet, remind me that there was a time not all that long ago when I (and many others, I think) had yet to have our cynicism calcify; that while this country was not perfect, we envisioned it as a land where we would be free to be you and me.

For me, being an American remains a complicated proposition. I am solidly middle-class and lead a life that is staggeringly luxurious when measured against virtually any other time or civilization. I have access to high quality health care. I have clean drinking water, cheap energy and an affordable and safe domicile. All of this because I was lucky enough to be born into the world’s richest and most powerful nation.

And yet… I remain surrounded by a sizable, vocal and powerful segment of the population of my fellow Americans who want to roll back history; who think that the poor are poor by choice; who believe that all taxation is theft; who are willing to take to the streets and protest the very idea of providing health care to all; who think that they have the right to tell others what to do with their lives and their bodies, be it marriage, child-bearing, dying on one’s own terms; who profess to worship the U.S. Constitution while showing not only a complete lack of understanding of the document, but an actual contempt for its tenets.

In other words, they embrace intolerance – which, to me, is the complete antithesis of what it means to be an American. Of course, as a Jew-y gay pinko, I don’t think my views count much to these folks.

Anyway, happy 4th to one and all. I still want to live in a land where the river runs free…

“There’s a land that I see…”

“I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” — Barack Obama

WELL! This is an amazing thing!

And, as an avowed cynic, it may surprise people to know that I’m not joining the critics on the left who are saying “Too little, too late” or that this was a calculated political move designed solely to (further) open up the pocketbooks of the gays. They may be right – but my eyes are open to the current political climate in this country.

There are millions who thump their bibles or shout about the sanctity of marriage or whatever other ridiculous and un-American arguments they can come up with to deny two people the right to enter into a legal contract together. I’m sorry, but no matter what excuse they come up with, the real reason they oppose same-sex marriage is because they hate gay people. That’s it. The only people who are affected by same-sex marriage are the two people who marry, no one else.

And some of these same bigots will be motivated to heave themselves off of the sofa on Election Day, specifically to vote against President Obama. And this worries me. It worries me enough that I’d’ve been OK with Obama’s continued “nudge-nudge-wink-wink” on this issue until after November. The specter of a President Romney (who supports amending the U.S. Constitution to make bigotry the law of the land) is frightening.

But the alea iacta est , the Rubicon crossed – so I’m just gonna say, “Thank you, Mr. President.” And get all misty-eyed as I listen to “Free to Be You and Me.”