The 2016 presidential election is over. Half of us are elated; many of us are depressed or angry or scared. Some are searching for a middle ground that will give us a reason for hope. The way forward is to find areas where black and white can blend into commonly acceptable shades of gray. I’m in the third group, but there are certain issues that for me are distinctly black and white, for which there are no shades of gray. Most of these are likely to land in the black-robed laps of the Supreme Court justices.
A Woman’s Right to Choose
The rhetoric of conservatives not withstanding, no woman is pro abortion. We all want to see fewer unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. That’s one reason we support Planned Parenthood. What we are pro is a woman’s right to choose the medical procedures to which her body will be subjected. If the Supreme Court tips significantly to the right and Roe v. Wade is overturned, we will be headed back to dark days.
I do not want young women to experience the fear and the trauma of secretly searching for an illegal abortion. I don’t want them wondering if the “physician” standing over them is legitimate, is truly trained. I don’t want them hoping they’ll wake up whole after the procedure, still able to bear children when they are ready. Those of us who were in our prime during that time do not have to imagine this. We lived it with our sisters.
An Individual’s Right to Marry the Person They Love
There is no room for compromise here. A man has the right to take a husband and a woman to take a wife. Conservative voices insist that marriage can only be between a man and a woman because the Church (or the Bible) says so. They’re confusing the sacrament of marriage with the sanctity of marriage. A religious institution has the right to reserve its sacrament for heterosexual couples, but marriage can take place outside a church or temple.
Many who are against same-sex marriage claim that civil unions should be good enough. Reserving marriage for heterosexual couples only serves to take the concept of love out of the relationship. Since a man and a woman can marry without religious involvement, what then distinguishes a committed couple labeled one way from a couple labeled another is anatomy. That means the conservative definition of “marriage” no longer has anything to do with love; it’s just about body parts.
Those against same-sex marriage seem to be mistaking Velcro for love. Velcro is the stuff where one side needs to have hooks and the other needs loops. Love has no such hooks-and-loops requirement. Lasting love is a matter of the heart, not the anatomy. So should marriage be.
The Protection of Our Environment
Mother Earth must remain sacred not just to Native Americans, but also to those who have the power to regulate the industries that endanger her. We have an obligation to protect the environment for future generations. Climate change is not a political hoax. 2016 is on track to be the hottest year on record, besting 2015, which bested 2014. Our new President wants to cut funding for the EPA, perhaps eliminating it altogether. He may cancel the Paris Accord, through which 190 countries have agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
If the second largest polluter in the world feels no need to protect our air, why would those lower down the totem pole feel a need? Clean Power Plant regulations are already under litigation and deemed unlikely to survive a Supreme Court challenge. There is no do over on this. If preventable pollution is allowed to continue, we’ll see rising oceans, extreme droughts, food in short supply and species becoming extinct. One of those could be homo sapiens. Or more accurately in this case, homo not-so-sapiens.
A Reduction in Income Inequality
This is admittedly a complicated task. Those who are willing and able to work must earn a living wage. Women must earn the same as men who do the same job. Healthcare must be affordable for all. The government at all levels must prepare workers for the new economy with training, access to new technology and affordable college. I’m not advocating for any particular programs, but the goal of reducing income inequality is non-negotiable.
The Dignity of the Individual
If this election teaches us just one thing, it must be that we need to return to civility, to a culture of mutual respect. Words and actions have consequences. Angela Merkel expressed this idea elegantly. She called on our new President to uphold “the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political views.” That sums up my fifth shade of “not gray” perfectly.