Specks and Planks

Occasionally someone will ask, “Doesn’t the legislature have anything better to do that talk about bathrooms?”

I am not sure we do.

House Bill 2 may be called a bathroom bill but it serves as a proxy for the fundamental split in our society about how we resolve firmly held beliefs among differing groups of citizens.

So far, both sides appear to be following Winston Churchill’s prediction of doing the right thing only after trying everything else.

2000 years ago, we were asked, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” That pointed out a simple truth that people are different and while we all share a commonality; we have arrived in the present by very different paths.  That’s the problem with judging others – using a flawed process to apply your own life experience to someone else’s life. It never works.

At least the positions were more clearly (if not satisfactorily) defined when, on May 4th, the U.S. Justice Department waded in with a letter to NC Governor McCrory saying NC’s “sex-segregated restrooms” are discriminatory because they treat “transgender employees… differently from … non-transgender employees.”

That may be so. But eliminating sex- segregated restrooms and changing facilities in all public and private buildings across NC (and the nation) will leave a large number of our citizens feeling like they are facing another kind of discrimination.

Perhaps some of us are just not sufficiently open-minded to fit the modern world. Maybe we are just old. Either way, discounting long and deeply held feelings and beliefs as simple bigotry won’t help raise anyone’s awareness.

Neither will huge corporations like PayPal (facing ethical challenges of their own) piling economic punishment on our state ease the personal discomfort resulting from sharing restrooms and locker rooms with members of the opposite sex.

We are offered stories about the heartbreaks of growing up as a transgender child along with demands that something must be done.  The LGBT community doesn’t have a monopoly on painful childhood memories.  If there is a hell on earth, it can likely be found inside a school locker room filled with adolescents of varying stages of physical development.  It’s hard to see how mixing in members of the opposite sex will make those childhood lives better.

A friend once asked me, “Do you prefer to be right or happy?”

That question suggests that, in a conflict, getting your way at any cost may mean you pay later. In other words, it’s unlikely we will permanently protect the rights of one group by trampling the rights of another.  Even if, with the help of the federal government, the power is there to do it, will that guarantee happiness?

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