I haven't written in a while, mostly because the summer and these first few weeks of school have been incredibly busy! But, I'm sort of back at it now and I'd like to get back to blogging, at least as best as I can.
I am writing tonight's post in the spirit of my favorite journalist, John Oliver, complete with hashtag.
So, my post tonight probably will not win me any friends, and that's ok. I accept that from the start. But, my goal is not to win friends, it is to openly state my beliefs without holding back, because most of the time, I do hold back.
For the past few days and weeks, I have been unable to turn on the news or scroll through social media feeds without seeing endless accounts of people and political groups spouting hatred and discontent towards other individuals and political groups for the people that they are and the choices they have mades. Some of these individuals have made poor personal choices in their lives, some have simply become the target of hatred for the people they are or the lives they choose to lead.
I'm not speaking in generality -- here's a short list of the groups and individuals that have been the target of hate and ridicule in the past 30 days or so...
-anyone that's visited AshleyMadison.com
-Jared Fogle (the guy from Subway)
-Kimberly Davis (the county clerk refusing to issue marriage licenses)
-OR same sex couples asking for marriage licenses
-People that support Donald Trump
-People that don't support Donald Trump
-repeat the above three sentences but replace Trump with "Obama"
-Suspects that do not follow police directives and get shot
-people in the #BlackLivesMatter movement
I think I'll stop there. I could go on to make a point, but I won't. I purposely chose targets on both sides of the aisle, there seems to be a little more blind hate on one side, but no one is truly immune.
I have witnessed everything from gleeful giggling at the pain of another to sheer delight in the downfall of another individual to wishing death upon one's fellow man. All of which makes me ill. When did we become these people? It's one thing to laugh when your friend trips on her shoelaces, but it's something completely different to delight in watching someone's life goes up in flames while you make some popcorn. Mind you -- this is someone you've never met, has never done anything to cause you harm or pain, but you still take joy in their sadness.
To make matters worse, so many people attempt to justify their hatred with their religious beliefs and their patriotism. And today, I say "Enough." If you want to be hateful, fine. Be hateful. But do it outright. Neither America or Christianity gives you permission to say or do those things and put up a shield to protect yourself.
First, let's start with America.
This is pretty straightforward. America began by announcing "All men are created equal" and has spent the next 225+ years fighting to make sure that holds true. In many places, men and women are still fighting for equal rights and equal justice. I'm not blind, but it is our responsibility as Americans to make sure everyone gets those opportunities. No one deserves more than anyone else...
Yes, we are allowed free speech, free religion, etc -- as long as our freedoms don't trample on the rights of other people. Go ahead, believe what you want to believe, but others don't have to agree with you & that is their right too.
America has always been a live-and-let-live kind of place, but we seem to have reached the point where we are forgetting the "let live" part of the equation.
Religion - Specifically Christianity
In the spirit of full discretion, I'm not a particularly active Christian. I do not go to church regularly. However, I do behave in what I have been taught is a dignified manner. I treat others kindly, I give back to my community, I rejoice in God and the world around me. Am I perfect? No, far from it. But, I do think I'm a good person when it comes right down to it.
This is actually the part of the equation that just has me so baffled. So much of Christianity teaches love, forgiveness, faith, and hope. As an Adventist (and I'm pretty sure it was the same Bible), I was taught to love my fellow man -- all of them. I was taught to love my neighbor, my enemies, my father and mother, my friends, even the people I didn't like. Love them all, pray for them, and hope that God spoke to their hearts and forgave them for whatever was causing them pain.
Since I've been having this conversation so often, I actually did a little research. The New Testament tells us to love our fellow man 11 times in some form - 5 of them a specific type of person, 6 of them general. The Old Testament adds another 20 decrees of loving the fellow man to the mix, a few more or less depending on the translation. That makes it pretty convincing to me.
There was not a pick-and-choose program where I only got to love the people I liked. I brought this point up to someone last night, citing Matt 25:40 (Whatever you do for the least of my brethren, you do unto me) and the response was "Jesus didn't mean everyone." I was actually very sad.
We can pile on top of that a few more instructions to "judge not, lest ye be judged," "let he without sin cast the first stone," "Do not be prideful"... and the list could go on...
Nowhere in all of those pages is anything that gives anyone permission to hate others because they believe differently. Jesus told his disciples to go out and spread the gospel, not sit at home on the internet and type mean things about people. Christianity preaches nonviolence, not war-mongering. Let me actually repeat that -- non-violence... as in zero violence. No individual gets to interpret the Bible or make the rules that others "should" follow and judge those that make other choices. As individuals, our responsibilities are simple...
At the end of the day, what it comes down to is Christianity asks you to
1. Love your fellow man
2. Do not judge the choices or mistakes of another - it is not your place
So, that's where I will stop. If you agree, great. You were probably a pretty cool cat to begin with. If you don't agree, that's ok too. We will probably agree to disagree, or not be friends anymore. Just let me know. :)
And if you would like more information - here's another blog to check out.