a·troc·i·ty (əˈträsitē) noun: An extremely wicked or cruel act, typically one involving physical violence or injury.
The word “atrocity” evokes great depths of shame in human beings. Terrifying visions of human indignities throughout time, such as unjust wars, the holocaust and slavery give us a knot in our guts and make us ask ourselves, “HOW? How could any human perpetuate such evil?”
True atrocities are bigger than our brains. Scenes of atrocious acts are so painful and overwhelming that we naturally turn away from news reports. We sometimes hide evidence of these acts from our children until they are “old enough.” It is human nature that we are unable to comprehend such terrible things could ever happen, or that they could potentially happen again. As human beings… we like to think that society has learned better and that we would personally NEVER participate in such disgusting acts.
Yet those of us born into this world with the ABILITY to fulfill our most basic human drives are woefully short-sighted in our attitudes and belief systems. Even the most compassionate and kind individual cannot fathom being denied – as a matter of law –basic human needs such as hunger, thirst, sex and sleep. As proof of our ignorance, we quote things like, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal” and “Don’t tread on me” as arguments to preserve things OUTSIDE of ourselves, such as guns and jumbo sized sodas.
Denying Basic Drives:
Science commonly recognizes hunger, thirst, sex and sleep as the most accepted examples of our basic human drives. As a society, we’ve come to understand how denying a human being of their basic human drives is truly inhumane. To clarify, I’m not talking about providing welfare payments or health care to those without a job. I’m talking about denying basic instinctual drives by law.
It has been proven that:
Denying humans enough food to satiate hunger will cause deep shifts in a person’s psychology. Hunger drives men to madness and mothers to steal. When lost in the wilderness, normal people have eaten tree bark and even human flesh in order to survive. Their behavior is involuntary.
Without water, a thirsty person stops being able to think clearly. Their true nature and life force is weakened. Some may eventually choose to drink unsafe water in an attempt to survive, causing illness and possible organ failure. They are victims of instinct.
Without sleeping for prolonged periods of time, the human body starts to shut down. The brain malfunctions causing hallucinations. Sleep deprived people have been known to behave as if they are heavy drug users and may act out irrationally and dangerously. The body eventually sleeps involuntarily.
It’s also proven that sex is essential to mental health. Unwanted or forced sexual activity can result in severe psychological damage, such as in cases of rape, molestation and incest. Couples grow apart as a result of unfulfilled sexual desires. There are entire industries devoted to sexual health and sexual dysfunction. Those deprived of sexual contact often express their sexuality in unhealthy ways or through situational sexual activity. Prostitution and trophy spouses trade sex for financial means. It’s ALL instinct for survival.
Atrocities are perpetuated by groups of people who disagree with, want to maintain power over, or are threatened by another group of people. In order to do so, basic needs are withheld to place masses of human beings in impossible situations of deprivation to make them weak. As a result, the victims are powerless and suffer great indignities. Denying humans of their basic drives causes great injury, and the damage is often irreversible - physically and emotionally - and it may take generations to overcome the social ramifications.
By denying – by law – the right of people to pursue their basic human needs – their natural, healthy drives – we are ALL essentially perpetuating an atrocity. This is my view of homophobia and anti-gay propaganda in this world. We have a long history of the social norm being that it is acceptable – or expected - to degrade, dehumanize, abuse, criminalize and yes… even kill homosexuals based on the bible’s teachings of Levitical law. As a Christian, I find it disturbing that excerpts are taken out of context from the Bible for punitive purposes. At the same time, we choose to accept other behavior – such as divorce, tattoos, and haircuts, which are listed side by side in Leviticus. Those who express hatred for homosexuality often contradict themselves by excusing the other behavior with the fact that Jesus Christ died for our sins, or that the New Covenant replaced Levitical law. It cannot be both ways. And the message of love and non-judgment is lost.
In the United States, we have laws against two adult individuals who love each other being able to express themselves sexually or to get married. These laws are rooted in a bastardized version of Levitical law, while at the same time, Americans live by the rule of “separation of church and state.” In another example, Russia has recently made homosexuality – even conversation or support of homosexuals – a crime. This is the beginning of a sort of genocide, and is an absolute atrocity.
We are all connected
Love is a universal truth. To whom one is sexually attracted – we now know – is NOT a choice. Therefore, by criminalizing homosexuality and denying basic rights we are choosing to persecute a group of people by picking and choosing arguments in order to control a sub-group and maintain power. That is an disgusting atrocity.
Keep in mind that one-hundred years ago, many people considered interracial marriage and racial integration to BE an atrocity. Bible verses were quoted to justify slavery, segregation and Jim Crow laws. Now, the majority concedes that such laws are atrocious and the arguments were plucked out of context, and the enslavement of black people is universally accepted as the worst atrocity on American soil. And… many claim that the residual impact is still being overcome even now.
It is my belief that the systematic criminalization of homosexual activities, the perpetuation of social norms which allow people to physically harm and proactively cause damage to homosexuals, and the weakening of the souls and spirits of an entire group of people by denying a human need – is in fact an atrocity and will be known as such in history.
Which side of history are YOU on? In the words of the great poet, Maya Angelou, “When we know better, we do better.” It’s time to do better.