Not for me, not for you

glove-3391582_1920It’s been three weeks. Besides struggling with the transitions my mom is going through, I’ve just struggled to find anything worthy of writing about. My thoughts are all complaining and accusing. I’m sad and mad and fearful, and I cannot escape the darkness of the news.

This morning, however, I read something that tipped the scales. Sarah Kay, (Twitter handle Moonmoon) tweeted

Today, in my poetry class, a 7th grade boy announced he was gay & that his mother had told him he couldn’t be. The rest of the class held their breath for a moment, but nobody laughed, nobody teased, & we talked about how writing poetry is a good place to write about who you are.  

It took me the better part of an hour to pull myself together and I still feel wobbly. …His mother had told him he couldn’t be…

The picture lingers in my mind. A young boy not much older than one of my own, standing in front of the person with whom he should be able to trust the most private and delicate parts of himself, arms limp at his sides, head down. Shamed, hurt, cast away, defeated.

Today it is not about balance…
or finding the perfect combination of civility and honesty…
or speaking truth in love.

Today, my lovelies…

No, right NOW, my lovelies, let’s stop hurting each other.

I don’t know if it’s selfishness, pride, the hunger for power, a desperate need to be right or to win, or simply the audacity of our sinful human spirits.

But with every slam, insult, call for violence, vulgar name, and dismissal of the marginalized, we slip deeper and deeper into our silos of comfort and belief. We hear the words of only those with whom we agree and overlook abhorrent or sketchy behavior because nobody’s perfect.

I am quite sure there is no biblical support for the position that the end justifies the means. If I’m wrong, please share.

We argue about who should love whom, yet so many times fail to share love with those who need it most. We are quick to criticize those with whom we do not agree, yet painfully slow to admit when our position or opinion proves flawed. We applaud a safe and secure society, smugly selecting the lucky few worthy of our trust, yet continue to ignore the rights of those most entitled to this place, who welcomed us years ago with gifts and assistance.

I’ve said more than once or twice, “Good golly, Miss Molly…I can’t WAIT until this election is over.” Maybe trash-talk will turn from politics back to sports. Maybe tempers will abate and peace will grow.

Deep down, though, I doubt any of our current ugliness or chaos will disappear anytime soon. We are too far into our corners, coming out with out gloves up, determined to be declared the winner.

Unfortunately, this election year and political climate keeps driving the wedge deeper. And the further we move away from those different from us, whether in ideology or personage, the more difficult it will be to find common ground, let alone affection or appreciation.

I have few answers that will appeal to all. Anything I say may be embraced by some, definitely dismissed by most. But I know what we are doing is not the way of Jesus.

He was asked point blank about the greatest commandments. The first is to love God.

There was no media follow-up like How about the second greatest? Jesus added it with no prompting. “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Matthew 22:36-40)

Pretty simple. Not easy. But not a bit complicated:

If I would not do something to myself,
or wish something for myself,
I should not do it to,
or say it to,
or impose it on,
or wish for it for
my neighbor.

I will never know the woman whose son “couldn’t be gay.” Maybe her own spiritual beliefs or bad experiences drove her to say what she did. Maybe his dad or uncle would be even more harsh, even violent. Maybe she is concerned about her son’s safety and future.

I hope so. I hope she blurted out her first impulsive thought and then quickly drew her son close and whispered, I love you… all of you. Based on the story told, though, it would seem there was no salve for the sting of her harsh words. God bless his dear, sweet 7th-grade soul.

I am willing to bet long money that those who read my words respond with kindness to even the most difficult issues. You do not resort to pipe bombs or threats, nor offer to pay the attorney fees of violent thugs or encourage others to harass the opposition.

But I so hope that we can agree to do more than refuse to harm. I hope we turn around every so often and walk toward those most unlike us. I hope we dial back our accusations and social “sharing”. I hope we check our facts first … and then grant a little grace to those who don’t.

I’m always going to be wobbly about something. The world is hard and often lacks even the smallest measure of warmth. My mom’s life is not going to get easier for her or us. The latest news will never sound like Chicken Soup for the Soul.

But I know that each one of us can do one thing and then another to make our spheres of influence sweeter. We can welcome the neglected and listen with both ears without forming our next argument. We can refuse to promote a mean-spirited meme or headlines from media outlets well-known to be politically  biased.

I’m not all that good at this. But I keep believing it’s possible.

For all of us.

 

It’s not complicated. If it’s not OK for me, it’s not OK for my neighbor. Any neighbor. Click to Tweet.

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