I am excited. I’m even a little giddy. My head is swirling with thoughts and emotions because today is a very important day.
Today, marriage equality became a reality in my State of Oregon. At noon today, a judge declared that the state ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Since noon, Facebook has been ablaze with people who are thrilled, celebrations going on across Oregon, and weddings are expected to begin this afternoon. It truly is a historic day in our state.
I’ve already been asked if I’m going to get married now that it’s legal. My answer is that I’m not rushing out to get married right away but it may happen at some point in the future. But you see, my excitement today isn’t about me. Today really isn’t about me at all. My excitement is about what today means in our state.
I’m celebrating today because there are couples who have been together for decades who will now be able to join together legally.
I’m celebrating because same-sex married couples in Oregon will now be able to have the same tax benefits as straight married couples.
I’m celebrating because same-sex married couples in Oregon will now have the same rights as straight married couples when it comes to medical issues, insurance, retirement, and other marital benefits.
I’m celebrating because same-sex couples in Oregon now have the option to have their love legally recognized in the eyes of the state and will not have to feel “less than” when it comes to any legal issues.
I’m celebrating because today’s ruling gives legitimacy to the love that two people can have, regardless of their sexual orientation.
I’m celebrating because my friends now get to be treated equally.
I’m celebrating the fact that same-sex marriage couples will no longer have to refer to one another clumsily as “partner” but can stand proudly and refer to each other as “husband” or “wife”.
I’m celebrating because future generations won’t have to go through the pain and struggle of feeling that their relationship is “less than” those of same-sex couples.
I’m celebrating because the cause of equality has taken a giant leap in the state of Oregon today.
And I’m celebrating because in the end, love always wins.
Today is important and I’m celebrating. But I’m not necessarily celebrating a “win” for myself. I’m celebrating for the thousands of people across the state of Oregon whose lives have the potential of changing today for the good. Nothing will ever be the same.
That is exciting. And that is a reason to celebrate.
“Nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” ~Shakespeare
In my last post, I gave a brief overview of dualistic thinking and talked about the importance of it in our development from children into adulthood. The unfortunate problem is that many people continue in dualistic thinking way beyond adolescence. So what happens is that the lowest form of critical thinking (either/or, black or white, good or bad, in or out, etc) is held onto and the individual does not grow into higher levels of thinking. In adulthood, the brain is capable of higher levels of thinking, but many choose not to go there developmentally.
Higher levels of thinking can be referred to as “non-dual thinking”. Non-dual thinking moves from “either/or” thinking to “both/and” thinking. It brings a person to a place where he or she can begin to embrace more than one reality or more than one truth at the same time. Rather than living in “black and white”, non-dual thinking embraces the “gray”. And as non-dual thinking grows in an individual, the person tends to realize that most of life is actually gray.
The journey from dualism to non-dual thinking typically happens in a person’s life through a period of great personal struggle. When something happens that you can’t explain or when your experience collides with your understanding of how life works, that’s when you’re forced to choose between the old dualism and opening your mind to a more expansive way of thinking. What typically jolts a person away from choosing the dualism again is the recognition that the old paradigm of explaining everything in life in terms of “it’s either this or that” just doesn’t always work. It’s an awareness that life really can’t be boiled down to two polarities in every situation and that sometimes, embracing both this and that is where the answer is found.
I came to this place in my own life because my world was shaken to the core. I had lived for over 25 years believing that there was one answer or one solution to everything. For me, that solution was found in a religious context where there was only one “correct” answer. But there came a point in my life where, if I was honest, the dualistic answers could no longer provide satisfactory explanations of life. I began to read outside of that religious context and began to realize that there were other valid ways of thinking. As I began to explore ideas beyond my former dualistic mindset, I began to see that the experiences of my life didn’t match up to the rigid “either/or” answers that I had believed in. So I was given a choice: either try to make everything fit nicely into neat little packages (which wasn’t working), or be willing to allow things to get messy and open my mind to non-dual thinking. I chose the latter and will never look back.
That same choice is given to everyone in life because life really can’t be explained in binary form. There is so much more to understand in between the polar extremes. So the question for everyone is whether or not to stay in elementary level thinking or be willing to broaden the mind to be open to the complexities and nuances found in the “gray” of real life. Non-dual thinking brings freedom and depth that can never be explained by dualism. Non-duality: life as it is.
I know this was probably a very difficult post to get through. But I really had to lay the groundwork for future posts by giving the lengthy explanation of dualistic and non-dual thinking that I’ve explained in these last two posts. If you’d like to read more about the movement from dualistic to non-dual thinking, I highly recommend Richard’s Rohr’s book The Naked Now.
I want to write a series of posts on the concept of dualistic thinking. The reason for this is that I want to share with you my journey from dualistic thinking to non-dual thinking and how that has impacted my life. I also want to share some of the dangers of getting “stuck” in dualistic thinking, which I believe can impact people and society in a negative way. Dualistic thinking, or “dualism”, is pervasive throughout the world but it is something that is very entrenched in our American way of life. I believe the reason for that is our Puritan history and the flow of fundamentalism down through the ages. But more on that in a future post. For now, let me begin with an overview of dualism.
Dualism is a way of thinking that judges everything in the world by putting things into one of two opposing categories: good or bad, black or white, happy or sad, religious or non-religious, light or dark, clean or dirty, belonging or not belonging, etc. A dualistic mind exists in polarity and tends to categorize everything as either/or. Dualism is the most basic categorical distinction one can make so naturally it is the form of thinking that is most easily developed in children. From an early age, kids are taught to differentiate between “this” and “that” and to figure out “what doesn’t belong”. Remember this song from Sesame Street?
Dualistic thinking is extremely important in our mental and emotional development because it helps us as we grow up to differentiate between things and ultimately to begin to understand who we are. It is in the process of differentiation that we discover our personal likes and dislikes, what our gifts are, that we are separate from others, that we have our own thoughts and feelings, etc. Without dualistic thinking as a young person, we would never come to have our own identity.
So ultimately, dualistic thinking is an important part of our growth process. We MUST think in a dualistic way as a younger person because it is vital to our personal growth. In that way, dualism is good and we should applaud and support children and teens as they separate, differentiate, and classify their way into adulthood.
Please subscribe to this blog to keep up with future posts in this series!
The final post is this series features a clip that in which I’m interviewed by Lisa Ling (along with others) about my experience of being on this panel.
A clip entitled “First Hand Accounts of Ex-Gay Experiences”
A clip entitled, “5 Ex-Gays Tell Their Story”. I am featured on this video.
Clip entitled, “Who Speaks for Exodus Now?” I am featured in this clip.
A clip entitled “A Room of Ex-Gay Survivors Reacts to Alan Chambers’ Apology”
In mid-2013, I had the amazing opportunity to be on a panel of people featured on the television show, Our America with Lisa Ling. In this special report, Lisa Ling did an expose’ on survivors of reparative therapy provided by Exodus International. The show ended up being a part of the ultimate closure of Exodus International. This episode was the third in a series of episodes that Lisa Ling did focusing on the issue of being able to “pray the gay away”. What actually aired on television was only part of the story so the Oprah Winfrey Network posted clips from interviews with us that didn’t make it onto the final program. So over the next few posts, I will link what is available online from the program, as well as video clips that were only featured online. Today’s video is the longest and is a video someone put together that shows the majority of the episode as it aired on TV:
Well, it’s time to start going “public” a bit more. I’ve started a YouTube channel because I really feel a calling to get my story out and to speak to the damage that ex-gay ministries cause. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel…more great things to come!