Art imitating life

Posted on 01 Jul 2016 at 8:00am

The plot of ‘Independence Day — Resurgence’ is played out every day in America

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Leslie McMurrayThere has been a drought of interesting movies to see lately, so it’s been a while since my partner Katie and I have been to the theater. This week, we decided to see Independence Day – Resurgence — in spite of the terrible reviews it’s gotten.

As a courtesy let me say this: SPOILER ALERT!

If you haven’t seen the movie, and don’t want to hear about the plot, maybe you should skip this column until you’ve seen the movie.

There, I’ve fulfilled my part of the social contract.

But really, we see this movie every day in real life. The plot should be eerily familiar to many of us:

There is a ship that approaches. It displays no obvious or even subtle menace. It’s just there, observing.

There is frantic discussion on what to do about it. Cooler-headed experts say to leave it alone. Others play the “fear card” and urge “decisive action” to keep us safe.

But all too quickly, arrogance and fear win out and combine so that the U.S. president gives the order to blast the crap out of it. And blast it they do.

Only later, do we realize we blasted to pieces our only intergalactic friend, thus opening the door for the real threat to come in and nearly wipe human existence from the earth.

It’s a familiar theme. Political leaders see or hear about something they don’t understand — like, say, transgender people, or Muslims, or “aliens” from Mexico or wherever — and instead of reacting peacefully, extending the hand of friendship and making an effort to understand, fear takes over.

War is declared: Keep transgender people out of the bathroom! Ban Muslim immigration! Build a wall and make Mexico pay for it! Blast the crap out of them all!

Fear and arrogance are ugly things, in the movies and in real life. It was kind of weird sitting in the theater rooting for the aliens.

I love my country; I really do. When I was a little kid, the TV stations would sign off every night, sometimes at midnight, with the national anthem. I was super young, maybe 2 years old. But my mom said when the “Star-Spangled Banner” would come on, I would get very quiet and a tear or two would come from my eye.

That song still moves me.

And this concept of freedom, the promise of the pursuit of happiness being guaranteed to all, is precious to me. But equal protection under the law, the rights guaranteed in our Constitution — with those rights come great responsibilities.

To preserve our rights, we must also preserve and respect the rights of others. After all, we are all equal, right?

Lately though, it seems like some folks are a lot more equal than others.

The America I grew up loving seems in danger of losing its way. We need a longer attention span.

I was in the grocery store and at the checkout line I saw a row of magazines. On the cover of each of them was either Muhammad Ali or Prince. I turned to Katie, and with a note of sarcasm observed: “Finally, Black lives matter.”

It’s a shame Freddie Gray isn’t on any magazine covers.

It’s time to set fear and hate aside. Those things are fight-or-flight reflexes. We’re better than that.

Let’s be strong enough to learn about people and things we don’t understand. I speak to groups all the time about being a transgender woman. Every time when I walk in, there are those who don’t understand at first. But when I get done, we end up exchanging hugs.

We share a whole lot more in common than we do differences. It’s high time we started acting like it.

I spoke last week and someone asked how they could best help support the LGBT community in the wake of the mass murder in Orlando. I said they could just stand up for us. If they hear hate speech, put a stop to it. Don’t just walk away. Say something. If someone is being bullied, step in.

We are your brothers and sisters.

I often quote Albert Einstein who, in reference to WW2 Germany, said: “The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil. It’s a dangerous place because of those who see evil, and do nothing about it.”

Let’s all do our best to do something about it. Happy Independence Day.

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 1, 2016.

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