Understanding how people are motivated and what stories they were taught only goes so far, some times. There comes a moment when taking a stand and making a choice is necessary as an adult. As a free person. Remaining an idealist, theorist, and philosopher eventually dries up and runs out of purpose. More is necessary.
Amidst the wash of rainbow-colored facebook posts, I was astounded to see a peppering of hate-filled statuses made even more prominent by the juxtaposition. Words like “sodomizers”, bible verses, patriotism, and religious doctrines were all incorporated in the offensive posts. People whose previous posts had been innocuous enough came out of the woodworks making their feelings on the ruling clear–many ex-classmates, some family, and thankfully no close friends.
I’m not writing this to extend judgment. We all bring what we know.
I’m writing out of a feeling of profound grief.
I’ll probably get a lot of flack for typing this, as well as hurt some people’s feelings that I care about.
I’m writing it anyway.
I tend to steer clear of controversy online (for the most part) but that act of self-preservation isn’t enough for me right now. I’m not at this life phase, but if I have children someday, I am terrified that they will grow up learning hate as I did. Even when I was very young, the judgment I was taught was “right” didn’t sit well with me, and I squirmed in the church pew as messages that seemed so un-godlike were delivered from the pulpit. I chafed at the black and white that seemed more cultural status than divine belief, and it took a long time for me to find the space and education to identify those feelings and even longer to release myself from that stranglehold of fear, guilt, and “othering”.
At times I still play along, because it’s easier than standing up.
Nobody likes to be a disappointment.
As I was reeling from some truly horrible updates, I saw another viral post about a pastor walking in his first pride parade. That made me cry too. Then there was the Catholic priest that posted a message of celebration and received threats in return. That’s the kind of love I wish I’d been taught, and hope to pass on. Not the patronizing “hate the sin not the sinner”, not the embarrassed “well they’re my family so I have to”, but true, honest-to-goodness, human rights for all humans love. Now that’s a sermon I could get behind.
I am lucky to live in the part of the country that I do, and to work in a field that creates an environment where self-evaluation is a daily occurrence and social justice is included in trainings. The speed at which things are changing is inspiring, but then I am reminded that there is still so far to go.
I just hope that I am brave enough to challenge messages of hatred and exclusion that surround all of us as they intrude on life. Tolerance, too, needs to go. That’s nothing if not a high status move of oppression.
And yes, I must check myself as I check others.