Single-Issue Surrender

Gay marriage fills the Canadian papers. I have stated my support. The issue is symbolically important, but materially less so (the young support it: if it comes not this year, it will come soon). But it is only one issue. Why will people stand up for this, when they will not for so much else?

In no particular order, here are ten other important issues on which we remain too silent:

  1. Health care. I have a friend who needs an operation; his doctor told him the waiting list is ten years long.
  2. A legal system which allows those with more money to steamroller those with less.
  3. The infiltration of organized crime into our infrastructure: our ports, our airports, very likely the government.
  4. Weakness and corruption in our democracy.
  5. Mediocre journalism which too often lacks critical reasoning, and has no sense of history or the wider world.
  6. Intellectual property laws which increasingly attack creativity and public discussion rather than supporting them.
  7. The elevation of greed and selfishness and the unwillingness of too many – from politicians to business leaders to social activists – to take responsibility for their actions or their participation in our society. The corporatization of society by groups of all kinds.
  8. The loss of community. We are too much separated from one another. Overrun by cars and sprawl, our cities isolate us.
  9. Quality of life. Our lives revolve around work, consumption, and passive entertainment. Families fracture; the old and the young are abandoned.
  10. The fragility of our liberties. We often behave as though we can be wealthy and happy without freedom of speech, privacy, freedom of conscience.

The issue of gay marriage is important, but it is not all-encompassing. We need to ally when we can agree. Whether we belong to the absurd categories of left or right, when we allow gay marriage – or any similar issue – to define our politics, we surrender our responsibility.

2005-01-22

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