The primacy of the idea of free and unregulated markets sent the global economy into a tail spin with millions around the world losing their jobs, homes, savings and sense of security. Billions more are pushed into deeper poverty, hunger and desperation. Yet there are those that defiantly cling on to ideology and refuse to consider pragmatic compromises. In this country, elected officials have refused much needed aid for their constituencies out of disdain for the current administration and federal government. The idea of limited government carries more weight than the reality of families struggling to get by day in and day out.
Forty years after Stonewall, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans remain second class citizens because of the idea that we are somehow less than our heterosexual neighbors, because of some people's idea that god condemns those she also created in her image. We are denied the right to marry because of an idea that has itself changed through the centuries. We are not allowed to defend the country we love because of the idea that our presence would disrupt and demoralize the ranks. We are not afforded over a thousand privileges straight people take for granted because of the idea that we have chosen to be gay, that we are responsible for how we were born.
Then there are those who put some idea of godly mandate before their very own children's welfare. Parents who allow their pubescent daughters to marry men old enough to be their grandfathers. Mothers who refuse standard medical procedures that could save their children's lives.
I realize there are those who will argue that I should not judge or condemn people for their religious beliefs. After all, the afterlife and divine judgment are at stake. But that too is an idea. The child that suffers, the individual that is denied basic rights, the families that have lost everything they worked hard for, the billions that live on less that $2 a day, these are real. Real human beings before us, flesh and blood. Not ideas we have chosen to believe.
Image by Steve Sawyer.