The Undiscovered Country

In an essay titled Characteristics, Thomas Carlyle wrote, “To-day is not yesterday: we ourselves change; how can our Works and Thoughts, if they are always to be the fittest, continue always the same? Change, indeed, is painful; yet ever needful; and if Memory have its force and worth, so also has Hope.”

We make changes everyday in our own individual lives. We plot a course to an unknown future and try to shape our lives in the best way that we can. However, when it comes to changing society, or the overall status quo, change can be very frightening to a lot of people. And those people are willing to do or say anything that makes such a change extremely difficult. But as we look back through history, we can see that no matter how difficult such a change can be, it always occurs in the end. There is no stopping it. Our society will change. How easily such change happens is determined by the courses of action taken on the side that is in favor of such a change and the side that opposes interfering with the status quo.

But the status quo is what we make of it. Society has to change or it will destruct. Try asking yourself this….How would our society be if we still permitted slavery in the United States here in the 21st century? Or how would our society be if we didn’t allow women to be full members of society here in the 21st century. These both were changes to the status quo….changes that some people feared because it was a step in an unknown direction and would have unknown reactions. But they were necessary changes…. changes that in today’s times, we can’t imagine them not happening.

To change the future is to change the course of events that we believe we are heading towards. In a way, the future that we seek now is an undiscovered country. It has endless possibilities, and it should be one where we are all equal and free. It is not an easy journey to be on for those of us that fight every day for equality in our nation. And no matter how much the other side opposes this kind of change, if they know their history, they should be aware that the change will come. All that’s left to be determined is the how and when.

Instead of embracing the change that is upon us, people would rather be afraid of it since it is always into the unknown. There are those of us, like myself, who are willing to take that first unknown step and deal with what the future has to offer. It is not to be feared but encouraged. Sure, we don’t known what lies beyond that first step, but it is one that society must take. And there must be those of us in that society that are willing to be brave and lead the rest down that road.

It all comes down to that undiscovered country….and to evolving to our current time. Here in the 21st century, it is not right that the LGBT community does not have equal rights with the rest of society. It is a struggle that the opposition can’t stop. All it can do is slow it to a mere crawl. To be against equality means that one fears that first step into an unknown future, but we can’t let fear run our lives. Yes, we are human…and fear is natural. But when being afraid of change overtakes our lives, there will be nothing left for us to accomplish because the journey will be over. What if Christopher Columbus hadn’t taken that first unknown step in finding a new sailing route to India? What if American colonists hadn’t taken that first unknown step toward our independence from England? What if all those immigrants hadn’t given up their entire lives to sail for a new home to begin a new life? How would society be if each of these hadn’t happened? These people took unknown steps to change the course of their own lives and change the course of history.

History might not remember our names or the individual actions that we all do; however, it will remember the course of action that we take in the here and now. Are we going to allow ourselves to be dictated by fear of the unknown and of change and progress or are we going to embrace the change that is necessary for society to evolve and start taking the appropriate steps toward that undiscovered country that lies in our future? It’s up to each of us to decide how we wish to proceed. The LGBT community’s fight for equality should make everyone pause and ask themselves, “How would I feel if this were being done to me?” It’s a simple matter of putting yourself in the other side’s shoes. Yes, we all have our reasons for being on the side that we are, but in the end we are all Americans…and we are all human.

The future of our society is upon us. And the course we take to get there is up to each and every one of us. There are those of us who are brave and willing to take that first unknown step, and there are those of us who let fear dictate to us that the status quo is all society will ever need. You just have to determine, which side of the quest you want to be on.

In closing, I return to the words of Thomas Carlyle. “Everywhere the human soul stands between a hemisphere of light and another of darkness; on the confines of the two everlasting empires, necessity and free will.” Let us not be afraid of the undiscovered country, but rather set a course directly for it and deal with the unknown together as one.

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