Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Debate Me

"...once a prejudice begins to be publicly debated, it is always revealed to be a dying prejudice. One does not debate a prejudice until the definition undergirding that prejudice has begun to be questioned." Bishop Shelby Spong
I'm on the e-newsletter list for Bishop Spong and this was part of his response to a question about how does he handle the setbacks in fighting for gay rights. And this was an "aha" moment for me. What a fabulous idea! The idea that once you have gotten the issue to the point where it is debated, you are already well on your way to winning. This could apply to gay rights, to anti-racism, to reproductive education - all manner of things.
It is so easy to get depressed and to think that we are never going to move forward. (And I realize some of you may have different ideas about what constitutes forward progress, and, well, I'm sorry to hear that.) So, this was inspiring. Now I have no idea how true this is - I have not verified the authenticity of the statement. Certainly I can think of examples in which public debate still led to another hundred or so years before the idea had any sort of mainstream acceptance.
But nonetheless, getting an idea or prejudice or concept to a point of debate should be - based on this - viewed as a huge positive step. It certainly doesn't mean sit back and relax. And certainly that doesn't mean yours is the idea that will turn out to be the accepted one certainly the idea of debate insists on at least two viewpoints, and you (or I) may turn out to be the ones holding onto the one that will die out or be pushed aside.
But a little something to keep in mind, when you are out there trying to expand minds. Whether about the rights of DC residents or about diversity in television.