By Wayne L. Parker
Once joyful and bright
Faded head hanging
Ashamed of its plight
Desperate roots stretching
Down into the dirt
Seeking salvation from
The life-giving earth
Empty, dead stare
A homeless man’s face,
Reflection of hopelessness,
Of shame, of disgrace
Nobody loves him,
Nor cares for his needs.
His dying heart bleeds.
The rain, it arrives!
In torrents it pours!
In just a few hours
Sweet life is restored
Face glowing brightly
Eyes beaming and gay
An affectionate hand is
Extended his way
Flower’s head rises
Turns its face to the sun
Petals, leaves swell
A new life has begun
Heart swells with hope
Eyes well with tears
Despair drains away
Haze of hopelessness clears
In his August 13 letter in a local Baton Rouge newspaper “Ordinance not fair to everyone,” Mr. Gene Mills claimed that “…sexual attraction, sexual conduct and transgender behavior…” are not “…inborn, involuntary, immutable and morally neutral characteristics…” as are a person’s race, gender and national origin. He appears to believe that being homosexual, bisexual or transgender is a personal choice, since he believes that the behavior of such people is voluntary.
In their book “The Gender of Sexuality,” Virginia Rutter and Pepper Schwartz state “The most widely held conclusion among sex researchers from a variety of disciplines is that homosexuality (and heterosexuality) are related to numerous causes and are biological, genetic, and contextual…” and that they “…vary from individual to individual…”
They go on to state that the “causes for homosexuality in men are different in general from those for homosexuality in women.”
In “A Sex Difference in the Human Brain and its Relation to Transsexuality,J.-N. Zhou, M.A. Hofman, L.J. Gooren and D.F. Swaab state “Our study…supports the hypothesis that gender identity develops as a result of an interaction between the developing brain and sex hormones.”
Janet Shibley Hyde and John D. Delamater, in their college textbook “Understanding Human Sexuality,” explain that biological, neurological, psychological, and sociological factors, as well as the varying degrees of interaction between each, are at least some of the factors that determine human gender and sexuality.
These researchers, as well as others, show that, as with the study of quantum physics, rather than answering questions about human sexuality, each new piece of information that is discovered actually creates more questions, revealing an increasingly complex picture.
I believe that people who take the time to actually learn about the subject of human sexuality will see that people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender are every bit as naturally human as Mr. Mills.
Although, having suffered the condemnation of the likes of Mr. Mills and his organization, and suffered the unjustifiable ostracism of society, most are a bit kinder, more compassionate and more understanding toward others.
A CHRISTIAN LAND
By Wayne L. Parker
A weak, homeless woman
Pushing a cart
No life in her eyes,
No hope in her heart.
Or scorned and shunned,
A lost, lonely soul,
In a Christian land.
The bitter, broken war vet
Peering out from his shack
Cursing his countrymen
For the knife in his back.
Praised and exalted
Yet denied and ignored
Just discarded refuse
In a Christian land.
The proud war-maker
Upon achieving his goal
The heart-rending wail
Of his enemy’s soul.
Vain pride in his eyes
Bloody sword in his hand
Of a Christian land.
The lonely, frightened inmate
Meeting his fate
Strapped to the death table
Of societal hate.
Peers out through the window
At the eager crowd
Proud, vengeful citizens
Of a Christian land.
The rich corporate mogul
Eyes filled with lust
Goes for the jugular
For boom or for bust.
Feels not the humanity
Crushed by his clenched hand
The vainglorious ideal
Of a Christian land.
Jesus of Nazareth
With divine godliness
Calls all to love all
As the children he blessed.
Denied or disdained
The forgotten teacher
Of a Christian land.
Lumps and bumps prove we are alive;
they’re not who we are
For most of the past 30 years I’ve worked in power generation plants. I still have, and use, the same hard hat I was issued at the start of my first civilian job 23 years ago.
The hat no longer has the shiny, fresh glow it had upon its issue to me, having lost that surface to time and grime.
There are also many scrapes, gouges, nicks, and various-colored paint scuffs indicating that over all that time the hat has done its job.
If the hat could talk, I’m sure it wouldn’t utter a single complaint about the injuries it has sustained while protecting its owner’s ponkin’ haid. After all, was this not precisely the purpose for which it was created?
As we have come through life, have we not each sustained numerous injuries, both at the hands of others as well as our own?
To be sure, some of us have suffered more severe injuries than others, but it seems to me that that is simply due to fate — what happens to one could just as easily have happened to someone else.
Understanding this, what sense does it make for any of us to complain about our life’s injuries, or point to them as excuses for not being better than we are? Are we not being irresponsible toward those around us when we allow ourselves to be diverted from our paths by injuries that happen to everyone else as well? Do we not each have a responsibility to be the very best we can be?
“Whatever the world may say or do, my part is to keep myself good; just as a gold piece, or an emerald, or a purple robe insists perpetually, ‘Whatever the world may say or do, my part is to remain an emerald and keep my color true.’” — Marcus Aurelius
What A Parent Might Say
By Wayne L. Parker
Welcome home, son. We’re glad to have you back safe and sound. Well, physically sound, at least, since it appears that you suffer greatly from some emotional issue – something about which you cannot speak and I, having never been in combat, cannot imagine.
If these heavy, seemingly unbearable feelings are caused by some thing or things you’ve done during the war, please listen to what I have to say…
Your decision to join the military was not yours alone. We all participated in it. By “we” I mean not just your family, but your friends, community and, really, the entire nation, which over the course of your life instilled in you a sense of patriotism and willingness to sacrifice for your country and our freedom. These are all good things.
Where we made our first mistake, I believe, is in our belief that, at 18 years of age, you were a man. I do not mean to belittle you. But think about it – in order for a person to be president of this country, he must first have attained the age of 35 years. This is because it is believed that until someone has lived and learned for at least that long, they cannot have a firm enough understanding of themselves, the world around them, and how to conduct themselves in it to be trusted with such great responsibility.
35 years old. And you were 18 when you joined the Army. While you were by no means a child, you still had a long way to go to become a complete man.
Had we not opted for your enlistment in the service, you would have grown up in a peaceful environment, among friends with whom you would have explored and learned about life in a way in which it was safe to experiment and make mistakes, learning and growing all the while.
You would have had as role models your parents, friends’ parents, teachers, sports coaches, employers, local businesspeople, and others who, as you would have been doing, grew up in safe, healthy, nurturing environments, and so became good people.
You would have grown to be a good man.
But instead, we decided that the best thing would be for you to join the military. Unfortunately, there, the only environment and role models you had were all geared toward one goal – not to make you a man, but to make you a soldier.
These people, and I mean them no dishonor or disrespect, did not have your best interests at heart when they offered themselves to you as leaders and mentors. Their loyalty was to the military and government, and they had thousands of years’ worth of knowledge about wars and human nature to bring to bear in training you to be what they needed you to be – a person who would trust and respect his chain of command, love and protect his fellow soldiers and, most importantly, unquestioningly obey orders.
You did well. You became one of the best soldiers ever. And then you and your unit were sent to war.
I suspect that this is where things went really wrong. Perhaps you found yourself faced, not with an opposing army, but with everyday people trying to go about their business. And then, with one thing leading to another, killing started, and you quickly found yourself being shot at or bombed by people and so naturally you shot and bombed back.
I suspect that when you first engaged in these actions, you briefly questioned the morality of what you were doing. But when bullets and bombs are flying at you and all around you, philosophical intellectualizing is probably not a very high priority.
Perhaps at some point in your deployment you wanted to voice your concerns to your command, but you noticed that when other members of your unit tried to do that they were met with scorn and derision from your superiors and, not wanting to be looked upon as a “sissy” and suffer ridicule and ostracism, things that can be dangerous not just to your safety but to that of the unit, you decided to keep your feelings to yourself and endure the moral dilemma for the duration.
You decided to “tough it out,” as a “good soldier” would. Being isolated in that environment, surrounded by your buddies and commanders who were likewise “toughing it out” made the situation just about bearable.
But now you’re home, and that supportive environment, however perverse and negative it may have been, is gone, and you’re faced with your feelings and the people who love you but can’t appreciate what you’re feeling.
Son, if any of what I’ve been saying rings true, please understand that, just as the entire nation was involved in your decision to go to war, we are all equally responsible for whatever you did while you were there. We can’t deny that you were the individual who committed the acts, but at the same time we must acknowledge that we, with our ignorance and well-meaning but misguided intentions, created the situation in which you found yourself doing the things you did.
You may be thinking to yourself that there were times when you actually enjoyed doing what you now look upon with horror and regret. I suspect this is entirely possible and understandable. Although only you can truly know what combat situations are like, I suspect that what happens there might be characterized as unimaginably random, bizarre, violent insanity. I doubt there are words that can adequately describe it, but I think it is sufficient to understand that a person’s mind is likely to engage in all kinds of distortions and intellectual acrobatics in its attempts to find context, meaning, and thus an appropriate reaction to such things. The human mind being as complex as it is, any ideas and actions are possible, and every one of them, considering the circumstances, is, to me, understandable and thus forgivable.
I suppose that is the point I’ve been driving at with this monologue. I want you to understand that what happened to you and the actions you committed while in the craziness of war were perfectly understandable and thus forgivable to any fair minded, compassionate person. And I will repeat that we all had a hand in putting you into those situations.
I wish to assure you that I myself forgive you, for whatever you may have done, and I hope that you will forgive me for the part I’ve played in this tragedy.
But above all, you MUST forgive your SELF, for WHATEVER wrong you think you committed.
Forgiving yourself is the first step toward growing past what has happened. I’m sure you’ve resolved yourself to never again do the things for which you feel so badly now, so take comfort in the fact that you are now a different, more enlightened person. Of course, no longer being in a combat situation enables you to exercise much more control over your actions as well.
Although what has been done cannot be undone, the lessons learned by those who have survived the experience and can get through their emotions can now be put to use for positive ends, such as educating both parents and children that war is NOT about “glory, patriotism, and honor” but can be more accurately described as “gore, insanity, and horror” and so should not be entered into lightly, without first understanding the ramifications for both the soldiers who fight wars and the people in whose country the wars are fought.
Try to view life in the broader sense – every one of us is capable of committing both good and bad acts. What distinguishes the degree to which each of us commits one or the other is determined by our personal chemistry, upbringing, personal experiences, the circumstances in which we find ourselves at any given moment, and an infinite number of other factors that can’t even be perceived.
I think it’s safe to say that a person of even the best upbringing, healthiest body, and strongest moral character would have had a difficult time surviving what you’ve been through without doing some bad things or experiencing permanent changes to his humanity. Most of us were just lucky enough to have avoided what happened to you.
Getting through your issues is important both to you and to the rest of the world. Your experiences and the lessons you learned from them can broaden everyone’s understanding of what war really is, and help prevent such future tragedies.
But first, you must heal. As you do so, understand that I am there for you all the way, just as, for good or bad, I’ve been with you from the very beginning.
I love you.