Marcia’s Law – United We Must Stand
“A house divided against itself cannot stand”
When my son was twelve, he entered the school science fair. His hypothesis was that white mice, when put through a maze, will seek out the most colorful objects. He ran those poor mice through his mazes, clocking and charting with a vigilance and dedication that was truly science-worthy. The experiment ended abruptly, however, when he realized that mice are color blind.
But there were other lessons learned in that misbegotten experiment; Aside from the color blindness of mice, he discovered what happens when male and female mice cohabitate* in close quarters. As could have been predicted, we had an overabundance of baby mice. Subsequent to the population boom, there was a population crash because mice, like humans, behave badly in overcrowded situations; they often figuratively, and in this case, literally eat their young. Lesson number two was a hard one.
The most important lesson, however, was lesson number three. Once the population stabilized, and without provocation, there developed a significant hierarchy. Before we could intervene many mice were mutilated and died. We humans could find no discernible differences in the mice, but even when separated again they quickly developed a clearly defined hierarchal order.
This pecking order effect is found in many species. In fact,” the term “pecking order” comes from the way that chickens show who’s boss and the order of submission from that point down. Within a flock there is always some squawking and fussing and a whole lot of pecking” (www.chickenkeepingsecrets.com). An effective method of dealing with the aggressors is to separate them from the rest, re-introducing them at a later time. The result of this is that frequently the peckers become the pecked.
This is an interesting concept when applied to humans. Graced with an opposable thumb and the ability to communicate with a verbal and written language, one would think that we are above all that pushing and jostling for who is “top dog.” Sadly, this isn’t true; the dictionary defines “pecking order,” not with the chickens coming first, but with humans as most important:
—social hierarchy: a social hierarchy in which some members of a group are established as superior to others
—social hierarchy among fowl: a social hierarchy among domestic fowl in which each member maintains its place by dominance over the lower members
Synonyms: hierarchy, class structure, social structure, social order, ladder, society (Bing Dictionary).
It seems we may not be quite as “evolved” as we’d like to think. Clearly, chickens aren’t the only ones who establish a social order based on dominance; people do too. In our culture there are racial, religious, and class designations that clearly distinguish who is dominant. And again sadly, a social hierarchy and its negative consequences exist even within the LGBTQ community.
Some time ago, I knew a mother with an adult child who was transitioning from male to female. As this mother struggled to accept her child’s new identity, she sought comfort in the companionship of like-minded individuals. I’d like to think I provided support and empathy to the mother, but, really, I’m not so sure. The one overriding emotion I can remember feeling is relief that I didn’t have her problems.
I don’t think that we can afford to lack empathy, to denigrate, or to turn away from members of the community who are different in a way we do not or cannot understand. Not anymore! We know how lions seek out and select from the pack their prey; we can’t let that happen. More importantly, we cannot peck each other apart from within. It is destructive to the individual, and it is counterproductive to achieving justice and equality for all persons in this country.
So, I’ve come up with some simple guidelines for living that I hope everyone can embrace. I think that they work because, hopefully, we seek a society based on fairness, not supremacy.
My guidelines are:
–Skip the labels; they’re for deciding on peanut butter brands in the grocery store
–Forget the “us vs. them” mentality; it’s a negative position and solves nothing
–Base decisions about individuals on their behaviors, not on their characteristics
Abraham Lincoln said, “Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” The same can be said for maintaining a position of preeminence over members of a given social structure. In other words, try hard not to be a pecker; you never know when you may find yourself on the bottom of that social construct.
At a time of great divisiveness in our country, it is imperative that we stand together. If we do not, Lincoln is assuredly correct when he states, “…If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” And if that happens, the LGBTQ community stands to lose everything it has gained.
Lincoln’s legacy is truly prescient, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”
…And I’m just a mom who loves her son…
*Really, the mouse population boom is NOT why my son is gay.