OPINION – “Where do we have to go to be left alone?” This was the earnest question a caller had Wednesday on the Perspectives Show with Bryan and Kate on on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM in Southern Utah, where I am a regular guest.
The issue at hand was the current battle over the legality of gay marriage in Utah.
While it is becoming apparent that the Supreme Court may be headed towards ruling once and for all on the constitutionality of state laws recognizing or denying such marriages, a good majority of Utahns seem to be saying they do not care what the courts say, they want autonomy in the matter based upon majority.
And while it seems futile to try to explain to those who feel this way that the very notion of such majority rule is contradictory to the tenets of individual liberty in this country, the caller did reveal something at the core of Utahns’ stake in this fight: The majority of Utahns want to be left alone to live as they please according to the tenets of their religion.
While they don’t mind if others move here, some only see such people as somewhat unpleasant guests who should buy their goods, pay their taxes, and otherwise be not seen or heard from.
Oh that it were this simple.
But I can relate.
I grew up in California and spent my summers on the beaches of Orange County in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. I often refer to it as the tail end of the golden years of the Southern California surfing generation.
We had a house on the beach where we left the doors unlocked and our surfboards on the porch. We didn’t even lock up our cars. Most of the people who lived on the strand, as the boardwalk along the beach was called, also played on it. They surfed or body surfed. They played beach volleyball. They rode bikes or skated the boardwalks.
And then “they” showed up.
Wealthy elitists moved in, they could afford to build big ugly boxes on the beach that blocked others’ views to the ocean in an effort to gain a pristine three-story view of their own. They needed this vantage point because these people, believe it or not, did not even set foot on the sand. Some of them not only could not surf, they could not even swim in a kiddy pool!
It was invasive.
But worst of all, these people did not like surfers or beach people in their line of sight. They thought our presence diminished the value of their property. And yet, we were there first.
This was a sad time in my estimation but to the real estate investor or the up and coming urban professional, it was a hay day. In shorter than decades’ time, money was made and remade on the sale and resale of these boxes. A new dawn had come.
And I said it. I said: “Why can’t these people stay inland and leave us alone? They are ruining everything.”
It was probably my first real-time lesson in the greatness and the tragedy of liberty.
You see, one man’s paradise is another man’s hell so to speak, but in this country, both men have equal rights under the law, right?
There may have been some bickering and a few legal bouts those of us from that oceanfront area can recall but what most stands out in my mind?
We learned to get along. We realized that absent some radical form of dissent, we had to. We could no more tell the homeowners they did not belong on the beach because they did not “use” it right, than they could tell us we were ruining their aesthetic.
The battle for gay marriage not withstanding, the mentality of “like it or leave” here in Utah is prevalent and it is two things: unrealistic and un-American.
I do understand the caller’s plight. He said, in essence, he wanted to just be shown a place where he and his could live out their ways in peace and autonomy. It is a great desire that I agree with.
But to go where one can be left alone? That, my friends, for Utahns could only happen by secession from the Union. As long as we are diverse peoples living together in society, liberty demands decent regard for one another’s differences and respect for the system of law of the land, as it presents itself – albeit with some flux we may or may not favor.
I value the rights of others who see it differently than me more than I value my own personal desires. It’s not always easy, but I do.
And the thing is that when I do, I find more often than not I have a lot in common with those people I thought were ruining things for me; and I have usually grown from it. Heck, I even make friends.
Today, I live in Southern Utah but I store my boards and diving gear in the garage of a friend who owns one of those boxes with a view. And when I visit him, I gotta admit, I find checking the surf from his third story balcony pretty cool.
See you out there.
- Federal government announces it will recognize Utah’s same-sex marriages
- Utah won’t recognize same-sex marriages
- Perspectives: Secession is as American as the 4th of July
- On the EDge: Secession talk is just sour grapes
- Legal Briefings: Seeking an unconstitutional remedy to cure unconstitutional activity
Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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