The social and moral twists in the show profoundly expanded my mind and shaped my understanding of our world--and my place in it.
One episode that stands out to this day is The Mirror. It follows a young, idealistic revolutionary who desperately wants to depose the current dictator in his country to create a just and peaceful society. He and his comrades succeed in overthrowing the paranoid and violent dictator, and he becomes the leader of his nation. He is hopeful and excited that his country will at last flourish in peace. In a typical, yet clever, Twilight Zone twist, the young revolutionary quickly turns into the very thing he was working against: a paranoid and violent dictator.
That episode planted the seed in my mind that violent revolutions can’t succeed. Combine the influence of that show with the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., and it’s easy to see why I’m a radical evolutionary. As desperate as I am for real social change, I’m not convinced that lasting transformation, away from oppression and scarcity towards justice and abundance, happens through revolution. Rather, changes made by peaceful means, while slow to bear fruit, have the strength to last.
Here are some examples of radical evolutionary changes:
This 1972 federal law radically increased funding for sports for girls and women in all levels of education. Forty-four years after its passage we have a wealth of amazing professional women athletes in basketball, soccer, tennis, and other sports.
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
This federal legislation fundamentally changed U.S. immigration laws to allow more people from Asia, Africa, and the Americas to become naturalized U.S. citizens. The sponsors of that legislation knew it would change this country. And it has. For the better, as far as I’m concerned. Fifty years later the people of our nation look more like the global population. Our deep ties to all nations make the U.S. a better country and a better world citizen.
I am legally married in Utah! Whenever I despair that real change is possible I remind myself of that amazing fact. Decades of individuals coming out, of people demanding more and more rights, and of incremental changes in the laws led to the landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2015.
When my younger daughter was about six, her little voice asked me from the back seat of the car, “What’s the First Lady?”
“The First Lady is married to the President of the United States,” I replied. And then, because I didn’t want to limit her possibilities, I added, “Unless the President is a woman. Then the person married to the President is the First Gentleman.”
She replied,without missing a beat, “Unless she’s a lesbian. Then she’d be married to the First Lady.”
It was hard not to laugh out loud. She was right of course; but truly it had been beyond me to imagine a lesbian president of the United States. But to six-year old Maya it was just another option. That was a radical evolutionary moment!
“Right.” I replied. “If the President of the United States is a lesbian, she’d be married to the First Lady.”