And I thought I knew who I was.

I understand that we are dynamic beings, constantly changing and reevaluating our values.  I understand that we have hurdles and defining moments, but it seems that recent moments of definition has slapped me across the face, making me feel completely squashed and beaten down, but simultaneously passionate and ignited.  It has made me reevaluate my convictions and question my goals, while solidifying some of my long-held beliefs. But I still can’t figure out the correct course of action.

Change: Gradual or Abrupt?

Change can take on two forms.  Change can be gradual, and change can be abrupt. However, I don’t think change can take place without both of these varying degrees. In my mind, it seems that, in order for gradual change to occur on a broader scale, abrupt change is necessary on a smaller scale in order to truly move our society forward.

A friend of mine told me, “Change is gradual, Paul.  In twenty years, attitude towards gay marriage might be different in schools.  But it shouldn’t be forced right now.”

My dumbfounded response was, “But how are we going to get there?”

Surface Tension

Surface tension is a scientific concept that refers to the cohesive forces between liquid molecules.  Liquid’s plasticity allows it to take on many forms and shapes, and in some cases, this cohesion allows a liquid to avoid spilling over, even when it has breached the top of its container.  This is the force that allows a bead of water to sit atop a surface without spreading infinitely. This is also the force that your science teacher modeled when putting way-more-than-you-predicted droplets on a penny.

Surface Tension: Courtesy of
Surface Tension: Courtesy of

Here’s the thing about surface tension: We can continue to fill a container with this cohesive liquid.  We can even do so gradually and consistently.  We can, drop by drop, add to the container or to the penny.  We can, and we do.  In some capacity, this is absolutely necessary to change.

But as we continue to add, we also approach the top of the container; we reach the outermost edges of the penny.  The drops begin to amount, and the bubble begins to grow.  With each drop, the change begins to feel less gradual–it begins to feel less comfortable in relation to past droplets.  Each drop takes up a greater percentage of the remaining space, and as a result, we predict the impending outcome.  We know that the bubble will, without a doubt, eventually burst.

As soon as the bubble bursts, there is no gray area; there is no longer a gradual nature.  Instead, at this point of relativity, there are two states: contained or overflowed.

We have been adding droplets to the gay marriage and gay rights arguments for years.  We have tiptoed around, creating a society that views these issues as taboo, making them inaccessible to children and, in effect, perpetuating a huge problem.

The bubble has burst.  It’s time to talk.

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