Writing by Caity Fowler // Photograph by Mina Dimitrovski
Two years ago I asked my wife to marry me. We had been dating for two months, friends for three years. We had two weddings, one spiritual blessing ceremony in Geelong and one legal ceremony in Auckland, where my wife grew up. I’ve always known I would get married.
Two days ago our Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, struck up a casual conversation with me on a street corner in Melbourne. He was friendly and confident and had a bright clear presence. The whole time we spoke I was swinging between my unexpected enjoyment of our encounter and thoughts of my marriage, and the idea that this man holds the key to my equality.
If I hadn’t been working at the time, showing a group of people around Melbourne as a tour guide, I believe I would’ve said something. For the rest of the day I couldn’t get it out of my head–this idea that if I had just shown him a picture of me and my wife on our wedding day, just explained to him that we are a real married couple, that I, the person before him who he chose to speak to of the 4 million of us in Melbourne, am a good decent person deserving of equality–that I could have changed his mind.
While discussing my thoughts with friends later that night, they informed me that our Prime Minister personally supports gay marriage, but it’s politics, yada yada yada. But the whole episode stayed in my head and I kept thinking about why this tiny encounter had so surprised and changed me.
This man was suddenly so real, standing in front of me. He was a person. Not a politician or a caricature, or some illusion on television. And maybe that was the real reason I didn’t ask him about marriage equality or politics or anything that would drag us from that moment. Because I saw him. With my own eyes, I saw him.
And this is the problem isn’t it? When we are hating and blaming and judging, we are not seeing people, we are seeing agendas and stories–theirs, and our own. We lose sight of the individual and instead our view is of “them,” those others who are the problem: the gays, the immigrants, the politicians.
My political views are fairly basic and uninformed. I’m not huge on marriage equality per se, I believe in equality full stop. I believe in compassion for all beings, treating our environment with respect and helping each other. I believe in peace, love, and unity. I wish we could have an audience with every politician and they an audience with each of us. Just for a moment, without words, without labels and bias and games, just a moment of presence shared between two beings.
Then maybe we would start to see each other. Until this point I had been focused on getting seen, not on my ability to see clearly. Until two days ago I had only heard of our Prime Minister–I could pick him in a line up, but I hadn’t seen him, I didn’t care about him, and I definitely didn’t love him like I did for those 30 seconds that we waited for the lights together on Collins St. When for the first time I saw Him. And he saw Me. And I could see beyond his politics, his opinions, his job–and just see him as another being, standing beside me.
What if we looked at everyone this way, and everyone looked at us this way? What would happen then?[share]