This has been a busy news week in the US, with some major stories that continue to unfold. For this blog I’m going to focus on two events: the shooting of those in a prayer meeting; and the Supreme Court decision that Gay Marriage is legal and should be acknowledged in all 50 states.
The dichotomy, and yet the similarities between these two stories give me pause. I understand that not everyone views them in the same way. But it’s my blog, so I get the microphone for now and I’m going to attempt to express how they affected me, in the hope it might be helpful to you.
Both have historical implications and both involve prejudice and bias. One of the stories was originally about hate, and generated a lot of pain that will be felt for generations. But it also generated a lot of love, forgiveness and unity – displayed by families and friends of the victims, and by others who are weary from all the hateful acts that have been committed in recent years. The other was born of love – by those who were simply asking for the right to marry the person they love. But it, too, has spawned a rash of hatred, bigotry and intolerance. It’s my contention that both of these situations are examples of the lessons we are to encounter as spiritual beings having a temporary human experience.
The horrific hate crime in Charleston and the memorial services that are taking place have touched me in a very deep place. The depths of how hate can affect us as humans – and be spread so quickly – simply because some people are threatened by others who appear different from them leave me in wonder. I’m sure I don’t understand the emotional turmoil the young shooter must have been going through. But I do know we all have the capacity, if we narrow our focus enough, to let something we believe germinate until it grows into something else that becomes larger than life.
And then the there’s the recent rapid change in the country toward LGBT citizens (after years of struggle) – culminating in the Supreme Court decision that was just announced. (One poll I read showed Americans who support gay marriage has risen from 32% in 2004 to 58% today. This event also touched me in a very deep place. And I still tear up just thinking about it. I know there are others who are very upset by this ruling because of their faith, which I respect and honor their right to maintain. But I’m repulsed by some of the venomous comments on social media, and especially by political and religious leaders. These remarks invariably come from people who label themselves as Christians. How can it be Christ-like to say such vulgar things about another human being!? Again, much of what is being said is because they are threatened by those who appear different from them.
What happened to researching, discussing and educating ourselves when we don’t understand something? Just because someone is different from me in some way is not a reason to intimidate and torment them – unless there is fear. When we feel fear, we attempt to control whatever we believe is the cause of that fear. I repeat: If we narrow our focus enough, to let something we believe germinate until it grows into something else that becomes larger than life. As Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, commented to Chely Wright while he was helping her prepare to publicly come out: There’s no one quite as mean as people being mean for Jesus.
I used to believe it was enough to love and respect the people I know who are of a different ethnic decent than I am or my friends who are LGBT. But five years ago, when our friend Chely Wright became the first openly Lesbian Country Artist, I realized it wasn’t enough to just love my friends. That’s like being a bystander who does nothing when someone is being mugged. I had to become more vocal and work to help secure equality. I’ve always found my clients from a different heritage or the LGBT community fascinating and courageous. But then I started volunteering at the LikeMe Lighthouse (an LGBT Community Center in KC founded by Chely). I started sharing posts about LGBT and racist issues. I educated myself and engaged in conversations. But most importantly, in this process, I met more people and I found some of my best friends – people who do more good in this world than I ever hope to.
Gay people marrying is not going to affect anyone who is not gay. They are not out looking for recruits. They are not polygamists. They are not child molesters. And if they get married to each other, they are not going to have any influence on heterosexual marriage. (Although some of my lesbian and gay friends have some very strong marriages from which many heterosexual couples could learn).
Equality isn’t just for Blacks and other ethnic groups, LGBT, disabled or anyone else who appears different. It’s for each and every one of us. We all come from the same factory. We may come in different packages, but inside we all contain the same ingredient – just like a drop of water exists of the same molecular structure as the ocean, we are each a piece of the originating Source. That ingredient is the energy of love. The problem is that when we become human, we often forget that, and we let our ego run away with us.
If I had to point to the one issue that clients present most in my practice – it’s that they are trying to fit into someone else’s idea of who they should be. They feel they have to please someone – or everyone else. In the process, they become sad, bitter and sometimes homocidal or suicidal. It never works to live our lives for others, but that’s what those who oppose equality are trying to enforce. They are trying to say, “You have to be more like me.” We are all meant to be free – free to be who we are. Those who are fighting equality (unbeknownst to them) are actually more imprisoned by their own rigid beliefs, because any time we fight or resist anything – we give it so much more power over us.
So, just as these two stories may be part of a divine plan, so is our reaction to them. I’m not saying God (or whatever you call he/she/it) caused these things to happen. Humans did, because we have free will. But now we have the opportunity to determine whether we are going to let the world explode from hatred or if we are going to lift it to new heights of unconditional love. It’s up to you and me.