I learned a long time ago that there are two subjects you never discuss in polite company. Both politics and religion possess the power to turn the most intelligent and courteous people into raving mental patients. It’s not something I discuss often simply for the fact that most people are rock solid in their beliefs and refuse to accept reason over ignorance. That’s nothing new, but in a world that’s become smaller thanks to technology it has entered the public’s eye far more clearly.
Since humans formed ruling bodies and created religion there has been intolerance. To say otherwise would be a blatant lie. Right now our country, one founded on tenets such as freedom of religion and separation of church and state, have seemed to have lost our way which saddens me to no end. Thousands of people have died in protecting those freedoms and yet we still don’t seem to get it.
As a child raised in an area of intolerant bigots my parents tried their best to protect us from those views they felt were a bad influence and I understand what intolerance can do to a person, community, or country. Yes, they made mistakes, but they did their best. Because of their open minds I grew into a person who accepts people for who they are. Once I came to adulthood moving to St. Louis I learned even more when I discovered new cultures and lifestyles. As a young adult I became fascinated with the beauty and spirituality in these cultures. I’m not saying they don’t have their flaws–they do–but they have so much to offer to those willing to open their hearts and minds.
As I grew older I realized that it didn’t matter where I went intolerance followed. Many people touched me over the years and opened my eyes to things I would have never experienced if I hadn’t taken the first step by walking away from the place I grew up in.
Katrina, a friend I attended college with who I held while she wept over revelations about the history of the South in her Black History class. She went on to attend college for real estate law so she could help the poor with housing.
David, a friend taught me what it is to be a gay man raised in the church. He never lost his faith despite the intolerance he faced daily both in his life and the church.
Tom, a co-worker and good friend who taught me it is possible to change a person’s life with a single act of kindness. He fell into drugs, first dealing then using, nearly dying in the process. But he credited me with an act of kindness (I nursed him through a near OD although I didn’t know it at the time) that changed his life. He cleaned up joined the Marine Corps, finished high school, and entered college.
These are only three examples of what we can learn if we turn our back on intolerance and ignorance. Recently, all three have been on my mind a great deal. Perhaps it’s because of all the things our country is facing.
Gay marriage and the intolerance that has given rise to such people as Pastor Fred Phelps of Kansas, a disbarred attorney, who pickets military funerals and gay pride events. A man and his followers (or should I say lemmings) who preach hate instead of love. What in the hell does gay marriage have to do with soldiers killed overseas? This guy is a soulless excuse for a human being. Not only is he tramping about flashing signs that proclaim “God Hates Fags”, but he’s claiming these soldiers died because God is punishing all of us for supporting Gays.
Pardon my French–What a huge pile of steaming horse shit. This guy makes Pat Robertson’s attack on the Haitian people look like a playground spat over whose turn it is on the see-saw. Yeah, Robertson needs to put the brakes on his hate-fest as well, but at least he tries to keep his mask in place when preaching his intolerance.
Then there’s proposed construction of a Islam Mosque in New York near the site of 9/11 Ground Zero that gave rise to the controversial Qu’ran burning announced by Pastor Terry Jones in Florida for the anniversary of 9/11. Why you might ask? Because apparently God has instructed him to open our eyes to the dangers of Islam and its violence.
Hello, Pastor Jones! It’s not Islam that attacked the US and murdered all those innocent people, it was extremist mentally disturbed terrorists twisting the words of a holy text so they can murder with impunity. Need I remind Pastor Jones that in the past Christianity has done the same? Ever heard of the Spanish Inquisition? How about the Salem Witch Trials? I sure have Pastor Jones being as I’m a Pagan. Does that make me your next target? Hope not.
I don’t blame an entire culture or religion for the actions of a few. No intelligent human would. To be honest, this level of intolerance and ignorance makes me ashamed to be human some days. Hell, it makes me ashamed that we share the same country. And let’s just be upfront here…
What good is to be accomplished by picketing a funeral and mentally torturing an already grieving family? Or burning the holy text of a religion that you in your ignorance can’t even begin understand? Is this what your God really wants? Or is this your own anger, intolerance, and ignorance reaching out to twist the minds of future generations?
Open your minds, think about why you say and do the things you do, and then get back with me in a few years. Oh, yeah and one more thing…
To forgive is human, to forget is divine.
I am human so I forgive you. Anger, hatred, and violence never solved anything. Let’s hope your God is as understanding and forgets.