Guest Blogger: JulieAnn Carter Winward
March 2, 2011
What? Two blogs in one day? Is she too inspired? Too prolific? Is she that sadistic?
Indeed I am. All three.
If you take a gander at my sidebar, you will see the number of followers that happen to follow this blog. Some don't read all the time, some do, some come from Facebook when I post a link. Some wander here by accident; some come as friends, some as enemies. But they come here.
And I have a responsibility.
However small my particular forum, I have a truth that I feel I must shout from the rooftops and say with all of my might, mind and heart.
I would like to talk about us. You and me. Let's you and I have a conversation. Although I can't hear you, you can hear you, and that's the thing. Just when we think no one is listening to us--everyone is.
Just when we think our private thoughts are our own, we hear someone mutter them under their breath. When we feel self-loathing because our behind is too big, legs are too short, tummy too full, our daughters hear us and look into their mirrors with loathing, too.
When we cross the street at an on-coming pedestrian of a different color, our children cross with us, holding tight to our hand.
When we refer to our fellow neighbors, Americans, human beings, brothers and sisters as "they" or "those", we separate ourselves from each other, and there is no separation. We are a human family and what happens to one, happens to all, whether you choose to believe it or not.
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me." Matthew 25:40, King James Bible, New Testament
“When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God.” Mosiah 2:17, Book of Mormon
Many people will say that I use or misuse the scriptures because I am a non-believer. I say to you that I believe--I believe that we are all brothers and sisters and I know your God, your leaders, your savior, taught you to believe the same thing. I speak in the language we all understand, and I speak it with reverence, respect and gravity. I don't come to you preaching what I don't practice, and I don't come to you to ask you to speak my language.
I would like to meet with you, have a conversation with you, about something you know--love.
I know that already that there's trepidation in you. Who am I, a raving mad woman, angry, opinionated, outspoken, who am I to talk about love? What is she selling, you ask. What does she want?
A conversation with you, that's all. I want to talk about the many ways we tell ourselves that certain things are acceptable. Okay. All right. We all do it. Don't you? I do.
I went to the gym today; I can have a cookie.
I brushed my teeth last night and I'm late; I'll grab some gum.
Wrong change? Oh well, I'm late and their stuff is over-priced.
An Hispanic girl was mean to me in Jr. High school; I don't like the new employee.
My grandmother was accosted by a black man. They frighten me.
My great, great, great grandfather was owned by someone white. I don't trust them.
They start small, these things we tell ourselves, and we tell them often enough that they seep from our pores like a dingy glue, covering our skin, shading our eyes. The glue adheres to everyone we touch, including and especially our children.
And our children do one thing, no matter who they are, no matter where they are. They learn, and they grow. And what you choose to plant in them is up to you, right here, right now.
I want to have this conversation with you because my heart is breaking, and if my heart breaks, yours breaks, too. You may not see it or feel it right away, but it fissures at the core and one day, it will break and bleed near you--in you, too. A grandchild, a child, a spouse, a sibling, a parent. A friend. A neighbor.
For Judy Shepherd, it was her son. He was once a little boy, like yours, like your grandson, like your baby brother. See the light in his eyes?
For Christina Guentert, it was her friend, Tyler Clementi. You have friends, don't you? The one particular friend who can play violin like Tyler could, or guitar, or who was an amazing writer? The accomplished pianist?
For David Brown, it was his little boy [Asher]. He probably remembers the day his son was born. Do you remember that day, too? Probably one of the happiest days of his life, and your life, as well.
I know what you're thinking. I live in your head, because we are brothers and sisters and you are a good person; tragedy is tragedy, and if only...
If only these kids had been taught better.
If only they'd been born into the right church.
If only they had been born into your family.
If only they'd been born to you.
Tragedy--averted. You could have saved them. You, with your love, your wisdom, your compassion...you could have saved them.
My friend, I'm sorry, there was no saving them. There was no saving them because no matter how much our parents love us, when we have a community at large who hates us, we feel alone. Parents are not there forever. We are prepared for their passing the moment we are born; we are bred and fed and taught to stand on our own so that one day, we can. We do our very best with our sons and daughters. But when others outside of that protective womb of the home get to them, there is sadly nothing you can do to save them. I know you want to; you are a good person, and I can tell.
You would never call someone a faggot around your children. You would never stoop to calling someone a dirty queer. You are not that way, and I can tell. You love the sinner but hate the sin.
But I have a responsibility to tell you that our thoughts betray us and it shows. It shows in our faces, it shows in our countenances. It shows in our choices, it shows at the ballot box. It shows and you don't know that it shows because you are a good person and surely your children can see that. But they can tell, too.
They take our unspoken words to the playground. They take our unseen expressions to church. They take our secret loathing and disgust and disappointment and they are only children without the finesse you and I possess; the dingy glue that seeps from us undetected by most is picked up by the keen and watchful eyes of our little ones, and it is brightly colored and evident to them. It's their job, you see, to watch everything you do, everything you say, everything you are, to prepare for the day when you aren't there; they watch to carry you on, carry you forward, to make you immortal. And so they learn.
If only, you say.
If only these poor souls had been taught morals. If only they had been taught the difference between right and wrong, they might have been saved. I know you wish this in your hearts. But they were taught, my friend. They were. They were taught very early on that how they felt was wrong, who they are is wrong. This is why they are dead.
But--you say....if only they had asked for help. You would have done something--anything to help these sweet little boys who remind you so much of your dear little son running up to you after you arrive home from work, running to your car as you pick them up from school, looking at you on the soccer field, so full of wonder, their eyes bright and full of excitement at all they had learned, all they want to share with you--if only.
They did ask for help. And they do. They call out for help from the grave and from the recesses of your mind as you watch the news and shudder at the tragedy and hold your little ones so close, never daring to imagine the pain their parents must face daily, forever.
They ask for your help now, at this moment. They ask in the eyes of every son and daughter who walks with a heavy heart at being different.
I don't ask you to accept the unacceptable. You have your beliefs, you have your standards and your commitment. I ask, humbly and with a fractured, broken, human heart, to love. Please, just love. Stand on the side of it. Make it heard in your homes, in your churches, in your communities, in your ballot boxes. Love, and allow God to do the rest. Allow God to winnow out the good, the bad, the ugly. It is not your burden to bear. You can avail yourself of this terrible and difficult task because I know that you know that you are to "judge not". We can all agree that we are not our brothers' judges. Can we agree to that much? Just that much? I hope so.
I don't judge you, either. I ask you. I beg you, I plead. I stand here with a heart that is broken. You are a good person, and I can tell. Your heart must be broken, too. And how can you possibly reconcile the two? Easily--you don't have to. All you are required to do is love.
All I am required to do is love. Not for tomorrow, not for the hereafter and not for eternity. Love, right here, right now.
And so you see, I have a responsibility. And now--so do you.
“He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none.” Book of Mormon 2 Nephi, 26:33
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear." Holy Bible, New Testament John 4:18
"We take turns, then, don’t we? When you are caught on any plains where love is not, I will gather what I have and bring what I can. And when I have used up all my love and am stranded in the cold, I will watch for you to appear with fresh supplies. That way we can make it, I think, all of us. We can be sufficiently creative and sufficiently kind that we will draw circle upon circle upon circle, bringing each other in, leaving no one out, joining, linking, enlarging, until the pattern of the whole human family, seen through the Eye of God, is complete." –No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones by Carol Lynn Pearson