The other day in class we all started to make fun of the “Motivational Poster” motif. You know what I mean, the type that has some dramatic picture framed with a black border, a large-font word (“Strength,” “Endurance,” etc) with a small little caption below. They’re all over the place. Personally, I find them to be amongst the most universally generic things I’ve ever seen. So before I launch into my sincere discussion of Patience, I wanted to start with a few of these motivational posters. I googled image searched “Patience” and found almost 10 different varieties of motivational posters that talk about Patience. Most of them are sarcastic, borderline crude. A few are so offensive I don’t want to post them. There’s really only one or two really serious ones. But here’s a few:
I think this may be the original serious motivational poster for Patience.
This is also a serious one, however, I couldn’t find it anywhere online what it actually says. It certainly is intense.
This one’s pretty good as far as comical efforts go.
Getting a bit funnier.
I just don’t even know what this one even means.
Now that I have whetted your appetite, I want to get to down to seriously discussing patience and why it’s on my mind.
The other night I was having a discussion with several people about Proposition 8. This is the infamous proposition that, after being approved, mandates that the California constitution be re-written to specifically limit marriage to a union between a man and a woman. If you haven’t heard about this by now you’re very out of the loop. You may want to want check this though: it’s a pretty funny musical about Prop 8 that popped up online yesterday and has everyone cracking up.
But back to the conversation. I am a young and in many ways impatient man. When I want to see change, I want to see it happen now. I tend to be a bit impulsive. This explains why I was on the beaches of Ocean Beach cleaning up oil only a few days after the oil spill last November, despite ample government warnings to stay away from the oil.
This being said, I’ve grumbled a lot about Prop 8 getting passed. It pisses me off for many reasons–the legality, the civil rights issues, you name it–and I want to see it get repealed, now. Now. Now. Now. And in this discussion the other night, I got pretty fired up talking about it.
I don’t even really remember what I said. I was in my typical fire-from-the-hip-without-fully-processing mode.
It was in stark contrast to two older, much more wise gentlemen in the conversation. In listening to their thoughts, and marveling in their demeanor, what stood out the most was their patience. One individual kept saying “the percentages have been getting better over the years.” (As a new Californian, I wasn’t aware of how many times this issue has been on the ballot.) And he has a point. Slowly but surely, the general public seems to swing in favor of respecting gay rights and equality. It didn’t calm me down at the time, but it has since. It may not need to happen now. If it got rejected, it may have been close enough to strengthen the supporters. But when the overwhelming major catches on, then there won’t be a fight anymore.
The comment that really stuck with me came with a gay man in his fifties. Here’s how he put it: “I’ve been a gay man all my life. I will be for the rest of my life. And people have disrespected me for it. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m gay, and I’m happy to be gay. And so if it takes another 100 years, or 200 years, for it to be legally recognized that my happiness is allowed, then I’m fine with it. No law, proposition, or constitution is going to take away my happiness.”
That to me was pretty profound. As a straight outsider on the Prop 8 issue, I was livid. But a gay man in a committed relationship, who couldn’t be more obviously in the heart of the issue, was perfectly content with his own happiness, whether legally recognized, socially accepted, or not. He knows that his love is “right,” and so he has the total patience to wait for society to catch up.
I know that we need firebrand youths like me to get out there and mix things up. But we also obviously need wise elders to remind us that as long as you personally overcome, you don’t have to actually witness society’s acceptance in your lifetime. Insisting on doing so can, and maybe even will, weaken or fully eliminate your happiness.
This being said, let’s get out there and repeal prop 8 now! But if not now, let all those personally hurt by its passing take comfort in the thought that as long as their love and relationship feels good and right to them, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. Everyone else will eventually catch up. Just have some patience.