Today is one of those historical days for equality in the United States of America. DOMA (the Defence of Marriage Act) has been declared unconstitutional and California’s Prop 8 was dismissed by the Supreme Court of the United States of America (SCOTUS).
It’s hard to describe the joy I felt at the news, especially considering that I’m not American and don’t live there. But the joy and hope these rulings invoke spread across the pond and believe it or not, the message is quite universal and in a very real sense global.
Every country that recognizes same-sex marriage takes a step in the right direction. It’s really quite simple: we’re all born equal with a certain set of rights that we get for being born human. A Human Rights declaration was written for that exact purpose and it applies to every human being that is born.
Those Human Rights aren’t recognized in too many countries and broken too many times. It’s one of the many things we as a species need to work on. Because it concerns all of us, no matter what nation we happened to be born in.
Nobody should ever be discriminated against, for whatever reason or for no reason at all. Religion, political leanings, sexuality, the colours of your skin, hair, eyes, your gender, age or physical (dis-)abilities. None of this should matter in how you are treated as a person.
From a European point of view no country in the Americas is an old country. They’re all very young and to our eyes often immature. Europe isn’t perfect and younger than countries in the near and far east, some of which are ancient indeed.
This may sound pretentious, but it isn’t meant that way: if you’re European with any sense of history, you can look back across the centuries and feel the weight of the past. Europe is old, which is what many American visitors are fascinated by. We have so many castles and picturesque old towns all across Europe.
It’s what Europeans feel when visiting Northern Africa, the Middle East countries and further to India and China, all of which are ancient and in whose eyes we’re the “young ‘uns”.
America is young and doesn’t have much history to look back on. It feels young when you visit it, unless you look into the Grand Canyon or stand beside a Redwood tree. It is the human history that doesn’t go very deep there, Native Indians aside of course.
Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t the age difference that causes so much friction between the very old and the very young nations. Europe, in the middle, tries to mediate, because we’re not just geographically in the middle, but also in age and can still remember what it means to be young, but already feel our age.
In the end, the future has always been with the young ones. They should learn from their elders, but they will ultimately rebel and go another route and try to teach their elders that there are other ways and things can be done differently, hopefully better.
They will keep pushing along until they hit a dead end at which point they’ll backtrack and try something else. The younger you are the harder it is to admit a mistake.
Throughout history it has always been that way. It’s like that in every family.
Yes, I am very much simplifying world politics here. This is just an analogy and you don’t need to agree with it. It is my analogy and how I see things.
Our differences across the globe will never unite us, but they shouldn’t separate us as much as they do, because underneath it all we are all ultimately human and most of us have a similar set of hopes and sorrows.
So, why do the US of A matter? Because they are the ones our future depends on. You can take that or leave it. But there’s no denying that the United States are one of the most powerful nations on the planet and the President of the USA is widely regarded as the most powerful president on Earth.
They can pave the way into a global better future, or they can dismantle it and sign off on our demise. The rest of the world looks to them for a very good reason. News affecting the States can very much affect the rest of the world. They are one of the major players on the political world stage and must be taken seriously.
Today this means that they have made a stance on equality and it’s only one small thing they can have huge effect on. The ripples they’re making will spread. And I can promise you that every gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, queer or otherwise identified person on this planet received those news with joy or at least hope.
The United States have made many mistakes in the past, as have all nations. But they’ve also done a lot of things right and have tried to right some of their wrongs. There’s no need to discuss this in detail, because the only point I’m trying to make is this: for better or worse the USA leads the western world.
Let’s all make sure it’s for the better.