I feel strangely torn between the euphoria of our marriage license issued on the 19th. of November and the depression I felt four days later on the 23rd. when Columbia City Councilman Cameron Runyan wrote a column in the State newspaper entitled “Why I Cannot Support the Redefinition of Marriage” to explain his solo vote against extending marriage benefits to same-sex partners of city employees. In the editorial Councilman Runyan asked us to respect his “worldview” which he said doesn’t include a city with equal rights for all of its employees. And I totally would respect it except…
His “worldview” mysteriously changed the day of the vote. Was he the same Cameron Runyan Facebook friend who visited our Guild and other GLBT meetings during his campaign for City Council – the same Cameron Runyan who asked us to raise money for his election because he was a fresh new voice that pledged to speak for fairness and equal rights for all the citizens of Columbia – apparently not. Then who was that masked man who spoke with forked tongue and whose hand I shook in friendship.
With friends like Cameron Runyan, who needs enemies?
betrayal n. 1. treachery, treason, sedition, disloyalty, unfaithfulness, falseness, breach of faith, bad faith, perfidy, double-dealing, double-cross, two-timing; deception, chicanery, duplicity, trickery. (Webster’s everyday thesaurus)
Ferguson has become a new word added to the vernacular of shameful American tragedies involving betrayal mixed with violence and the loss of too many young people in too many different parts of our country as a result of too many guns. Columbine…Sandy Hook…Trayvon…Ferguson…is this the Legacy of the Lost that will haunt us as a nation for generations. Is this the breach of faith that defines us as a people in the eyes of the rest of the world and, more importantly, is it the duplicity that we fail to see in our own eyes and hear with our own ears.
I hear the sounds of betrayal at night when sirens scream to answer the calls from gunshots behind my house. I hear the cries of betrayal when a young woman who lived not far from me was killed by youthful gang members who shot her by mistake. This is the ultimate betrayal of a nation and a community, yet it is often impossible to trace the footsteps that led us to an environment of distrust among ourselves and the inability to change our culture of violence.
We cannot look to our elected representatives in the Houses of Congress or, indeed, the White House, for different directions of positive change in our own houses and neighborhoods. They are unfaithful to their electorate and poor examples for any of us to follow. They are double-dealing double-crossing contentious factions which display no real interest in the daily lives of the people they supposedly represent. Their betrayal is creeping and insidious and creates an atmosphere of indifference and disrespect from their citizens.
We must look to ourselves then and accept our responsibility for our part in Ferguson. Columbia is Ferguson. South Carolina is Ferguson. Texas is Ferguson. We are all Ferguson. We must examine our own lives – what we do, how we feel – and whether we have a sense of urgency in doing good for others, in treating everyone fairly and with respect. We must turn betrayal into loyalty and faithfulness, into safeguarding and protecting.
Margaret Mead said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
And that, Councilman Runyan, is my “worldview.”