Tonight was a conjoining of two events, a big thing and a small thing, that got me thinking on things. The big event was the passing of Amendment 1 in the state of North Carolina which eliminates all unions that are not traditional marriage. While aimed at same-sex unions its effect is wider than that since civil unions for anyone are eliminated. This amendment represents the latest in a long line of state legislation across the country that regulates what is marriage and highlights the hypocrisy of all the small government/no government intrusion folks.
The small event was watching the DS9 episode "Far Beyond the Stars", got to love Scifi for examining the hard issues. In a nutshell the episode centers around the idea of what kind of future did the black community and individuals have in pre civil rights America. In a world of legislated and regulated racism any attempt to look beyond to a better time and place (ie: the future) was ridiculed by your friends and derided by your enemies. It was a time when the normal was frequently depressing and disheartening for the folks on the "wrong" side of the racial divide.
These two events got me thinking that we find ourselves in a world and country where we are both the future to that bad past where things are better in some ways, though not enough, and the bad past to a hopefully better future. It's that second part that makes events such as North Carolina's amendment feel like that better future keeps receding in front of us and the bad past keeps catching up from behind. It's the loss of this dream of a better future and its replacement by a far darker vision that we find so disturbing and unnerving. The future is supposed to get better if we go by the guide of the history of this country, technology, rights, and life has been mostly on an upswing since theis country was founded.
However, the event in NC is a complete reversal of this forward progress with it being another attempt by a few to define life in a narrow and rigid fashion based on some idealized version of an earlier world. This cannot stand, we must work towards this bright future so that the truly better world it brings is available to all of us, even the ones who would oppose it. In many ways I feel we have lost this vision of the better future even before events like Amendment 1 happened, we as a society and individuals have become too self-involved to do more than desultorily object or protest when dark events happen. We don't understand systems or understand them improperly and apply opposition too frequently in the wrong place and time. We express care about people but then rarely do anything to actually show that care, and we don't look to a better future just a better now. Look forward and beyond yourself, ditch the navel gazing of post-modernism and be a modernist where the future is the constant goal.