The following may be a bit disjointed but here goes:
A few months ago someone asked me if my views on peace and unity were learned, if I ever thought differently or were my views always as they are now. Until that moment I had never given it much thought. Suddenly was forced to examine myself in a way I had not done before. I’ve thought of this often since then, especially in the past month.
When I was young there were riots all over the country the Viet Nam war was the first war fought in our living rooms thanks to technology and the brave war correspondents like Mike Wallace. Charles Manson had gone on his rampage of horror, and a president, a civil rights leader and a senator were all gunned down. I sang antiwar songs and made white felt daisies with yellow pom-pom centers to hand out to classmates in the name of peace and love and my school work all had a peaceful daisy drawn beside my name. Now, May 2012 has taken me back to these days raised many questions in my mind and the minds of many of my friends.
These questions are rooted in how fear and misinformation result in hate.
May 2012 in North Carolina began with a statewide vote on whether or not the state recognizes domestic partnerships or only heterosexual marriages. Same sex unions were already illegal in the state. On May 8th sixty percent of the state voted to recognize marriage between one man and one woman only. The religious conservatives who supported this amendment seem to have forgotten to love one another as commanded by the teachings they hold so dear. But hey! What’s new? I grew up in the south and have come to expect the religious among us to pick and choose who they love and who they don’t. Where else can you find pro life and pro war at the same time?
This vote spawned more than one pulpit spewing of homophobic hellfire and condemnation. To further impact my delicate sensibilities, this past Memorial Day weekend was when the Klu Klux Klan planned to rally and burn a cross at sundown on a private farm near Harmony, NC. Really? Harmony, NC? You’ve got to be kidding?
Fortunately many other folks thought the same thing and the wife of an old friend in area organized a counter rally or love rally named “Harmony in Harmony” that took place at the major intersection in that small town of less than 600 people. Her story is amazing and involves a video team from the National Geographic and resulted in the Klan moving their gathering out of the area.
What I really want to talk about is not the rally or the vote but whether or not my interest in peace, love and social injustice was learned or innate. I don’t remember my appreciation of those different from me being something I learned. My family never taught me that I was any different than anyone else. No one spoke of politics either so I did not learn to be conservative or liberal. I’m not at all sure where interest in equality and human rights came from so I am going to claim that I have always been this way, like the Lady Gaga song “I Was Born This Way”.
I’ve always had a tolerant streak in me and wanted to help and nurture others but at the same time I am certainly now saint. My mother told me recently that someone had told her when I was young I told this person they were ugly. This broke my heart and I hope could I was never so mean but I must have. I am an imperfect human and prone to great fault.
My fascination for knowledge, other cultures and people from places outside my sheltered world in North Carolina runs deep. Some would say my life has not been sheltered at all once they hear some of my life stories. But three years ago when I chose to move to the multicultural neighborhood where I now I live, I became very aware of how sheltered I a life I have lead. Before my move, I truly thought the world had learned from its past and grown. Truth is we’ve not changed very much at all. Prejudice is still rampant, wars are still claiming hundreds of lives, and the truth still struggles to be heard and hate or at least indifference seems to over shadow love. I still feel the sadness of those who are marginalized as they struggle for the acceptance and love they deserve. This icky sick feeling still washes over me today when I think of the misinformation and fear that fuels misunderstanding, indifference and even hate. I long for peace on earth and love in the hearts of all people for all people. I long for a time when we realize there is enough and no one needs more than his share because he shares all with the whole. We are ONE! We all come from the same creator, the same spark in the universe, the same genetic mother. No one is saying we have to like everyone but to love is different Loving everyone is recognizing their humanness and their value as a person no matter what where they come from or what their physical package looks like. Love and acceptance is after all what we all want, is it not?
The past few weeks of May have been quite thought provoking for me. I’ve taken a good look at many parts of me. I have some wounds from those early days that I still need to heal. But I am not sorry for any of it. I am sorry for the many who are misinformed. I wish them all well and will strive to do what I can to teach love.
Yes! I’d say I’ve always been this way and I am glad of it!