Virtual Reality

This is the third time I have attempted to post something. Either the words wouldn’t come, or they didn’t make since, or I quite frankly didn’t have the energy.

To my readers, I apologize for my silence.

I do have some news to begin with which might also explain my absence.


I’m pregnant!

Yes, after all that wondering and worry, I am now at the beginning of my second trimester. D & I couldn’t be happier about adding someone to our family, and about the opportunity before us to be good loving parents. Here’s to hoping for better energy levels and no more morning sickness (Please, dear God.)

I do plan to write more about the process we went through sometime in the future, but I have a lot on my mind now.

I’ve decided to take a break from Facebook. It just gets difficult to read across the news feed sometimes. Honestly, it’s always worse when there is a controversy of some kind. I don’t mean it’s difficult to see opinions that differ from mine. That’s to be expected and part of what makes friendships so interesting sometimes.

No, what I am talking about is the tendency for us as a society to wall up with our own views and criticize everyone who tends to disagree with us. I’m talking about the other-ing we engage in when we bring up so-called “hot topics.” I’m talking about the way we form opinions and take stances from our safe distances instead of engaging with the people for whom the issue of the hour is not an intellectual exercise – but is real life.

I see it in my liberal and conservative and moderate friends. I see it in myself, my employer, my family, and in my communities I live and worship in.

For the sake of example, I noticed comments about the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case. I saw where people belittled one another for one view or another, and even questioning how one side could be called Christian; then saw the exact reverse of that siding and other-ing elsewhere. I noticed rants about Chick-fil-a mixed in, and witnessed comparisons and contrasts.

I missed something though, and maybe that’s why I feel so compelled to write about it. What about the point of view of the one who is really affected? The one who gets ignored in the cross hairs of firing our rhetoric at one another.

I feel pain for women who have difficulty in taking oral contraceptives and cannot have access to other means of birth control due to their employer. I cringe for them when people say callous things like “get a job elsewhere” or there are plenty of employers who will support it, go work for them. Have those who say such things tested the job market lately? Not to mention, I wonder at how cruel it is that someone has to find another job with a place that might not be as good of a fit due to rules like that.

I don’t have to wonder long. I worked as an intern, and then as an adjunct counselor at my alma mater. I even applied for a full-time position there. However, at the advice of dear friends who knew the double life I would have to lead, I decided not to go through with pursuing what was an amazing opportunity, and excellent fit, and truly – a dream job for me. Lee University does not allow LGBT people to work there. It goes against their version of Christianity.

So, I know all too well of missed opportunity and the sting of feeling like a black sheep to an institution or company you once called home and truly felt part of. I still am looking for work that is fulfilling and a good fit for me. Women who find yourself in a similar position – who have to choose between the birth control you need and the employer you feel loyal to – to LGBT people who cannot work where you wish because of discriminatory hiring practices – To others who relate – I stand with you. I am so sorry. I know the pain. It is real.

I think about the whole Chick-fil-a debacle, and wonder at how many people still take the stance of still eating their food even though the company made a stance they disagree with politically. Then I remember the vivid images of the charred remains of an African gay man, brutally murdered in his village for being gay. I think about the fear and sheer terror of African lesbian women in Uganda and other countries who have been victims of so-called “corrective rape” – and I shudder when I remember that the funding that taught hatred in the name of God in those parts of Africa came partially from the Family Research Council, a listed hate-group with the Southern Poverty Law Center, and a group which Chick-fil-a donated their proceeds to. All of that got covered up, ironically, by a statement against gay marriage that sent some straight into lines to contribute to the system, while others picketed against statements made instead of the dollars which had turned into blood money.

I feel for the father and mother of the son who was a prisoner of war; regardless of how he came to be in captivity. Regardless of how their behavior may have been inappropriate – but showed their desperation for their son to be returned home safely to them.

I feel for the children, and the parents of children who do everything in their means to escape their own country to join ours.

I feel for the girl in my town, who was brutalized at an after-party on the night of prom.

I feel… and I instinctively touch my belly, wanting so badly to protect the little one inside. To protect our precious daughter or son from the evils, but also from the indifference  – including the indifference that comes in the guise of caring.

It’s too easy to write a status about praying for families where the latest shooting occurred, too easy to call someone we have never met a traitor, too easy to say someone should make this choice or that choice.

It’s much harder to reflect on what we can do about gun violence and start acting on it. Much harder to listen when we want to reply. Much harder to walk with someone through life’s difficult moments and to truly be with them in their pain so that they can make hard choices and not be alone. Much harder to see where we can lay our own positions of power aside, to give rise to justice for someone else.

So, instead of facebooking about the issues, I think the best thing for me is to live a life I can be proud of in front of my wife, and in front of our children. I think it’s best for me to call my friends and see how they are instead of relying on “liking” pictures and quick texts and wall-posts. I think it would do me and the world more good if I write my representatives more often, participate in actions locally and more widely, and if I stop intellectualizing  – which I believe is the defense mechanism of our current society.

This is as much to me as to anyone else.

Surely, we can live life in a way more real, more meaningful, and more productive than superfluous comments and statements on social media; more than the degrading name calling we engage in when talking about someone different than us – no matter how rude or spiteful they have been to us; more than the idea that “liking” or “sharing” is really doing something good.

We live in a technological bubble. Let’s pop it. And truly engage with one another. Sit face-to-face and have real conversations. I hope this post sparks some conversations of your own.

As a child of the 80s, I thought virtual reality was the coolest thing ever.

But now, I think real life is.

Go and live it, friends. Abundantly.






2 thoughts on “Virtual Reality

  1. We use ourselves as a gauge for what is “human,” and I believe that those most unhealthy psychologically are trapped by their own interiority so that they cannot conceive of anything that isn’t “me” being human. Whereas those most liberated from their ego are able to recognize, acknowledge, and own all dimensions of humanity, the beneficial and the harmful. I think we all exist on a spectrum, and we have to deal with each other wherever we are on that spectrum. And for those of us with a tremendous capacity for empathy, living hurts a lot of the time. My insides seize every time I learn of an injustice. I cry and rage and retch on a daily basis. But stay strong. Empaths are vital to the world. Empaths have access to reality in a way that most people don’t. People need to be seen as full human beings. And people need to see people as full human beings. Empaths help bridge that gap.

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