One Bold Step

Everyone talks a great game about changing the world, or even just their lives, but courage, while free, comes with one price: action. I want to share my bold step with you, and, if you write to me with your bold step, and it's timely, I'll post it on my site every couple of weeks, if not more often.

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Location: Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Director of Research for (aka: The Foundation Foundation). Formerly with Air America Radio Phoenix ("Froggy Went A Marchin..."). Sang the National Anthem at a rally in Phoenix with Cindy Sheehan. Loves: chocolate, flowers, perfume (my grandmother), great music, politics, and a whole-hearted appreciation of the truth (Are there really "conspiracy theories" or do we need more FOIAs?). Seeker of justice and agent for change.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Want to Build a Bridge? Show It

I haven't written a blog post in a while. What I've learned in the interim is crucial to the end of discrimination against women and gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenered persons: most people don't know anything about their civil and criminal rights.

A few months ago, as I was working on what I thought would be a story to describe a situation I had experienced -- a proverbial disaster of the lack of non-sports related Title IX enforcement, which is a can of worms unto itself, I gave a speech on victims' rights and proved to myself the existence of a huge knowledge gap in American society today. Of the dozen, or so, people to whom I was speaking, most of whom were in their early thirties to early seventies, only one other person in the group knew his civil and criminal rights. You could ask me if he knew the answer due to whether or not he was gay, himself, but that wouldn't be a fair question. The whole point, I realized, is that whether most of these people experienced problems like a burglary, workers compensation, or even unethical counseling from a therapist or clergy member, they had absolutely no idea that the most time they would have to do anything about their situations legally would be in the range of, at most, one year from the date of discovering that a crime had been committed against them, or that they are suspected of committing a crime.

This may seem obvious, yet it raises many questions. Most people don't stop to think if people are behaving ethically, let alone professionally, until they find themselves in a difficult, or, they think, unusual situation which forces them to look at the issues.

Rather than focus on just the issues of violence, gender, and sexuality, perhaps its time for the leaders of the feminist, domestic violence, sexual assault, and GLBT movements to build a bridge with advertisements showing people the connections between their rights in various settings, from the religious to the secular, and the rights and struggles of the people in the community. Sometimes, people have to be shown, rather than told, what they're missing. It might start a very uncomfortable set of conversations, but then they'd be transferred from the people who seem obsessed with their rights and safety to the entire citizenry. It might just be the kind of campaign that raises enough eyebrows to turn heads and finally convince the larger populace that they really are missing something besides universal single-payer health care and the definition of habeas corpus -- their own grasp of personal rights and safety.

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