sit, staring at my keyboard and monitor, a million
thoughts and feelings jockeying for position. But
no string of words seems capable of conveying their
words can explain how it feels to travel to Washington,
DC, visit the Supreme Court and catch sight of the
Jefferson Memorial before returning to New York City
on a cool night? What words can capture the thrill
of riding to Queens in a yellow cab driven by a Middle
Eastern gentleman with limited English language skills
and apparent high-speed record-holder aspirations?
What words can paint the shimmer of Manhattan's nightscape
lights against a black sky at midnight after a hard
rain? More to the point, what words exist to communicate
the gut punch felt early the next morning when that
skyline was tortured into a visceral ache of international
that is why we talk and we write. And, hopefully,
why we think.
thought plenty during my two-day rental car solo drive
from New York City to Des Moines, Iowa, where I was
finally able to get a flight home. I thought about
the people and the values that I hold dear. I pondered
concepts of friendship, love, loyalty, and patriotism.
I admired the beautiful landscapes that I drove through
and wondered what kind of people lived in them...how
they lived their lives. I thought about what it means
to me to be an American, especially
as an outspoken advocate of the First Amendment and
of responsible, non-
traditional sexual lifestyles. I thought about the
people along I-80 West who displayed flags or other
symbols representing their anguish and their willingness
to be identified as Americans. I thought about the
frightened men and women who propose that some civil
liberties should cease to be acknowledged in order
to achieve something they consider to be "security."
And I wondered what would be left of being an American
were such a level of "security"
time of crisis, I urge others to remember how
precious are the rights that make us free."
I felt fear. Not for the first time during this virgin
voyage to the East Coast but now from a new direction.
I did not fear attack from foreign religious extremists
willing to do the unthinkable to achieve their twisted
purposes. This time it was domestic extremists that
tightened my gut. Ideologues who, in a vain attempt
to magically make the country risk-free, would remove
the very freedoms that make their homeland great,
that inspire murderous anger in those who hate freedom.
Air Marshals on planes is one thing...restricting
blaming sexual minorities and atheists, issuing national
identity cards, and eavesdropping on phone conversations
are quite another. Shades of 1984 and the horror
stories of life under the Soviet Union. If the goal
is to demean our national values and play directly
into the hands of those who hate us, then burn the
Constitution and the Bill of Rights and have done
with the charade. But if the goal is to live free,
then we must also live bravely.
are eagerly doing what we are good at doing: generously
giving of our abundance. Whether in Manhattan, Des
Moines, or Portland, Oregon, we all want to be involved,
to take action, to do something, to make things better--to
make things right.
money, time, skills, and materials are ways to assist
in rebuilding what has been destroyed while reaffirming
support for the things that we hold precious. My favorite
advocacy and lobbying organization, the National Coalition
for Sexual Freedom (www.ncsfreedom.org), defends our
natural right to be sexual beings: to speak frankly,
live honestly, be good parents, neighbors, employees
this time of crisis, I urge others to remember how
precious are the rights that make us free. While we're
defending our physical lives, let us not
forget to defend those things that make our lives
worth living as Americans.