Love is love is love.
It’s iceberg season. There’s one stuck in the channel out near Kelly’s Island in Conception Bay. Been there for days now. I was out walking with my son, Mark, as the evening sun was busy giving the coastline a fresh coat of gold. It struck me how lucky I am to live a place like this. Where the landscape is a masterpiece reworked by day, by season.
From First Nations to every nationality in Europe, through generations and centuries, how multicultural and diverse our collective history has been in this place. Good. Bad. How we got here today is a question I come back to a lot. There’s a lot of focus on individualism these days. Whether that’s generational or just a side-effect of the political climate. What that kind of thinking does is ignore the role of the community effort. We all stand on the shoulders of others. We walk a path partly lit by someone else, and hopefully others may follow. It is a strange dichotomy, this balance of individualism in the setting of a progressive collective community. But the collective effort pushes us forward. Individuals make a difference within that. From Martin Luther King to Malala Yousafzai, they slap the water to start the wave.
This dance, this balancing act is the beauty of freedom as I see it. But maybe that’s a little naïve of me to think. Freedom means so many things to different groups and individuals alike. I get it. I’m straight man, married with three healthy kids and a good life that I’ve worked hard to achieve. My sense of freedom resides there and in the blessing of living in a place like this, in a country like ours. I’ve been to many countries. And from the Rohingya Refugee camps to the dusty streets of Ethiopia, “freedom to be” is a common goal among those I’ve met. Simply just to be.
This week is Pride Week in Newfoundland and Labrador. Such a strong, powerful message embracing the “freedom to be.” I saw this t-shirt online that said “the original pride march was actually a riot.” Today, it’s a celebration. There is still a long way to go for the LBGTQ community here and around the world. Fighting for rights in one place, fighting to keep rights in other places. Death threats. Ignorant policies. Abuse on so many levels. It breaks my heart to think of their struggle. But the march itself is what it should be… the loudest trumpet about what it means to be free. Gay. Straight. Black. White. No matter the category. Freedom is the best thing we can wish for all.
There was a great meme making its rounds on social media last week. It said “more rights for some doesn’t mean less rights for you, it’s not pie.” I love it. Hits the nail on the head. That the freedoms some aspire to have takes nothing away from the freedoms you may enjoy.
Even if we have lived in a free society for hundreds of years, it is only really this generation, this period in time that we are unlocking the true power of freedom of choice. The freedom to love who you want and marry whomever you wish. We need to all stand up and protect how far we have come. We cannot lose ground. We must always push forward. We cannot lose the momentum because there are still forces of intolerance and ignorance at play. We need to use love and hope to change the way resistors think and use it to open their hearts and minds.
Love is the ultimate motivator. I remember watching CNN last year and there was clip from the Tony Awards when Lin-Manuel Miranda won the top award of the night for Hamilton. It was the part of his speech when he said: “We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger. We rise and fall, and light from dying embers Remembrances that hope and love last longer. And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love; Cannot be killed or swept aside… Now fill the world with music, love, and pride.”
With equal poise and determination, we must never give up the fight to continue to spread the message of acceptance and diversity. Never forget that this moment came at great expense. We need to continue to be the drivers of change. So, if you are marching today, or any day, with love in your heart and acceptance for all, stand tall, stand proud and don’t ever let anyone tell you we can’t change anything. You can. You have. You will.