Category: Bullying

“Overcome Evil With Good”

2004 vacation 095 - Version 2(*This post was in response to a Facebook thread that continued to receive contributions for over a week. It began with a photo of Christians offering apologies for mean spirited abuse on the part of Christians toward the LGBTQ community during the 2015 Chicago Pride Parade.)

A colleague once asked me to explain the difference between communism and fascism. I explained that one personified the extreme right side of the political spectrum while the other represented the extreme left. His response was, “yeah, I get all that but what is the practical difference? They both seem to be equally tyrannical”. He was right. That concept is clearly illustrated in this thread. A week ago I shared what I feel is an inspirational photo of people with divergent opinions humbly and respectfully tossing aside their differences and focusing on mutual respect based on our shared value as human beings.

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What happened? The hateful responses from all sides of the “debate” that erupted tainted if not fully annihilated the high-minded intent of that photograph. Opponents of the LGBTQ movement took this as yet another platform from which to scream the tired accusatory message that is not new and is well understood. No one is unsure of the position of conservative evangelicals regarding same sex marriage and with all that it is associated. Many LGBTQ activists, with equal vitriol sarcastically and with mean spirit mocked the God and the faith that many of us hold dear. Such a reaction places you in the same camp as the “gay bashers” you despise as you render divisive hatred offering nothing to contribute to the edification of society. You dismiss us as irrelevant and out of touch in the same manner that you assert Christians have dismissed the LGBTQ community.

As communists and fascists hold divergent political views while employing the same brutal and cruel tactics to attain their ends. Hate-filled and toxic diatribe from evangelicals and LGBTQ advocates alike offers nothing to improve the state of our community. Hatred and prejudice have existed since the beginning of time (whenever you may believe that it may have occurred) and, sadly it will continue to exist until the end of time. (However, you might believe that will occur). Society does not need more insolent, spiteful hate mongering – we have an overabundance of that. We need more people of good will who are dedicated to constructively working together in a spirit of mutual respect, willing to agree to disagree on significant and deeply held personal issues in order to strive together to make the best of this world on which we live.

To my fellow Bible believing Christians, we believe in the coming of a new heaven and a new earth and that this earth will one day pass away. Why are we so hell-bent on driving people away from the God Whom we believe embodies the fullness of perfect love in an effort to save this entropic planet and to defend a theological position?

Social activists, you want mutual acceptance, respect and tolerance but you are unwilling to afford that same courtesy to people of opposite beliefs. How, in God’s name does that separate you from the gay bashers you so maliciously slam? If you encounter clergy, caterers or florists who, with respect, elect not to provide services for your weddings, why not take the high road, wish them well and move ahead? There are countless professionals who will gladly provide those services to you. Or do you feel some inexplicable need to engage in a social war mirroring the activists who are committed to attacking you?

The lines have been drawn, the positions and messages are clear. Very few people are yet to be “won over” or converted to any side of this “debate”. We have come a long way but racism still exists. Acceptance of, in spite of disagreement with the LGBTQ community is rapidly increasing but there will almost certainly always be militant antagonists.

It has been both amusing and disturbing to view the “Scripture Wars” that have threaded throughout this post. Both positions accuse the other of hand picking Scriptures to defend their own position when in reality both positions have employed this vain and useless practice. We need for people who claim that they want a free and respectful society to…

  1. Recognize that we will always have antagonists and people with whom we disagree.
  1. Lower the priority of our differences and raise the priority of love and mutual respect in an effort to develop a more peaceful community.

Christians will continue to preach the Gospel, the appealing and unappealing aspects alike but my heartfelt prayer is that we can do so with love and respect without abandoning our deeply held religious beliefs. To be fair, there has been a small contingency of people from both positions who have contributed posts with the same encouraging spirit that inspired the initial photo that was posted; a spirit of reason and respect that seeks to encourage and edify rather than belittle and deride. To you I say thank you, carry on and well done.

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“When is The Race Card Valid?” (Pt. #1)

 

2004 vacation 095For years I patiently listened to members of ethnic minorities direct accusations of racism against anyone by whom they felt slighted or injured.  Internally, I would roll my eyes saying to myself that their description of the offending slight sounded more like the actions a rude individual might inflict on anyone regardless of race.  However, I would never voice that thought because I am well aware that as a white man it would be disingenuous of me to presume that I can sympathetically speak to their concern.

The tables were turned however, when I was living in Costa Rica and utilizing public transportation.  On one occasion I found myself in a sort of perfect storm.  Late for an appointment I was waiting at a crowded bus stop during rush hour in the middle of a driving rainstorm.  There were no orderly lines; it was a chaotic every-man-for-himself struggle to board the overcrowded buses as they inched there way through the stop.  At one point I was just about to step on to the bus when two people took my place in the bus doorway by knocking me off the step.  My initial reaction was to say to myself indignantly, “They only did that because I’m an American!”

As quickly as the thought entered my mind I remembered the countless complaints I had ignorantly endured by those who had experienced exactly what had just happened to me.

When one stands out or when one is aware of his or her difference from the perceived norm it affects our perception of how the mainstream population treats us.  I knew intellectually that the rude mistreatment I experienced trying to board that bus had nothing at all to do with my skin color or my nationality.  Somebody else wanted to board that bus as badly as I did and I was simply an obstacle – nothing more, nothing less.

It is imperative for all of us regardless of race to center our perspectives and mutually work to first understand the position of our perceived adversaries and second to detach our personal experiences as much as possible from our worldview.  It requires a level of clinical understanding devoid of as much emotion as possible allowing just enough passion to focus on finding solutions to racial insensitivity and injustice.

Granted, despicable acts of racism occur every day against both minorities and whites but solutions lie in collaboration and mutual respect acknowledging that racism has happened and that it continues to happen.  But we all need to take a united stand against it for more headway to be achieved.

Will racism ever be fully eradicated?  Sadly, I don’t think so. As long as man is capable of hatred we will find excuses to hate.  But if we can work together to eradicate the culture of racism then vast improvements can be gained.

“The Lie About Sticks & Stones”

2004-vacation-0951.jpg(Please take the poll at the end of the post)

The old adage “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a bald-faced lie.

In fourth grade I broke my left wrist playing sandlot football.  The initial pain was intense but soon faded.  Now, it’s actually a fond memory.  I hurt myself doing something fun.

In second grade my family moved to a new town and I discovered immediately that the playground culture of my new school was different from that of my previous school.  During recess at my first school we played “army” chasing each other around the playground engaging in imaginary gunfights.

My second school was different.  We didn’t play army, we played kickball, a form of baseball using a soccer ball that was rolled and then kicked rather than pitched and then hit with a bat.  I understood nothing of that game or of any sport for that matter so, predictably, my initial performance in kickball was below par.  Knowing the amount of grace offered by schoolchildren you can imagine my humiliation.  The verbal shots and angry glares were by far more painful and damaging than the broken bones and sprains I would later sustain.  My spiritual injuries were deeper and longer lasting than any of my sprains, cuts or fractured bones.  They affected my self-perception for many years.

Sticks and Stones Mouth

Over time as my athletic ability developed and I enjoyed some success I continued to doubt myself.  In fact, the subconscious affects from the spiritual damage caused me to spend much of my life doubting my ability to do anything well.

Like anyone, I sustained additional injuries, both physical and emotional and can confirm that the emotional wounds have been more damaging.

I believe this is a result of the fact that physical wounds affect our body, our shell.  Emotional wounds on the other hand injure our spirit and are more difficult to identify and locate making them more difficult to treat.  The encouragement of family and friends, a better understanding of people as a whole and my faith in Jesus has resulted in healing but still the emotional wounds outlasted any of the physical ones.  Sadly, I am confident that many adults are still under the influence of long past wounds to the spirit.  Until a few years ago, it is unlikely that I would have publically revealed even this small glimpse into my soul.  I am much better now, thank you.

The mental health maladies suffered which lead to such tragedies as Columbine, Sandy Hook and Fort Hood often cause more damage than sticks and stones.  I won’t include Alex Hribal’s attack in Murrysville, PA on that list until a motive is uncovered.  However, I suspect that ultimately we will discover a deeply damaged spirit.

Let’s stow the verbal sticks and stones and release an onslaught of encouraging words toward everyone, especially those whom we least favor.

Encourage