Today, I was out on Facebook, responding to people and wishing my followers “Happy Birthday”, and came across a posted link from a friend of mine. It read:
WELCOME TO OUR HOMOSEXUAL DAY OF SILENCE| Culture Wars Right Side News (www.rightsidenews.com) Day of Silence by homosexuals in our public schools promotes un-natural life styles and targets Christians as bigots.
Because I am the mother of a gay man, and friend to hundreds of LGBTQSA, and a huge proponent of unconditional love, I connected to the link even though I recognized I would be saddened by it. Once I had read it and knew exactly what it said so I could be factual in my response AND I went out to the Day of Silence website to make sure I was accurate in my understanding from the LGBTQSA side of the conversation, I felt I could respond with truth. On the home page of http://dayofsilence.org – here is the statement:
On the National Day of Silence hundreds of thousands of students nationwide take a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in their schools.
The following “conversation” took place between my friend and me.
Me: Unfortunately, J., this is a cruel and bigoted article. The Day of Silence is not about “sex on demand” or “the right to engage in whatever sexual practice feels right at the moment”. It is about being able to choose who you love without fear. It is about being able to live your life just like everyone else – in a home with your spouse, your children if you are fortunate to be allowed to have them, have BBQs in your backyard, take your children to soccer, work in a job without fear of losing it because of who you love, and rent an apartment without fear of being kicked out because of your spouse’s gender. It is about being able to walk down the street without fear that you will be beaten, or even worse, killed. It is about freedom from bullying and harassment. It is about mothers who love their gay children not having to live in fear because they are shot at through their kitchen window or have a fire bomb thrown at their house in the middle of the night because their son is gay. It is about love for humanity. This article is about hate and bigotry, and if people identify with it because they are Christians, I would challenge that fact. Jesus did not teach us to hate. He showed us how to love.
J: Sexual behavior should not be promoted in school
J: I am for love of all people, however my God deems certain behaviors sinful
Me: Perhaps, but I would encourage you to support being factual rather than hateful. Sexual behavior is promoted in school along the continuum of sexual orientation by all kids, not just by gay kids. In fact, it is most blatantly promoted by those who are straight. Get to know what the Day of Silence means before you take the opportunity to demean it. Some of the gay people I know are the kindest, most loving people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. And, many are Christians.
J: Why not a day of Prayer then otherwise people who disagree are hateful!
Me: Disagreement does not automatically translate into hateful, J. I am disagreeing with you, but I’m hopefully not being hateful. I like you – you are a good man. I’m just sharing my feelings that the world would be a much nicer place, if you would take the stance of being a loving man. How about a day devoted to unconditional love – that way no religions or spiritual paths are being stepped on, and no judgments are being made about worthiness?
Here is what I know. I was judgmental about the article, Christians who buy into this kind of rhetoric, straight kids who are in to public displays of affection, and J for not being more loving. That was not loving behavior on my part. This I know because I was finally able to detach from the outcome of the conversation, and check my own behavior. I expressed my feelings and my values, and I am done. I forgive myself for my judgmentalism – I am still working on my ability to love unconditionally – I am human. What J does with my thoughts is up to him.
So, why am I writing this blog? Because I have more to say about unconditional love – without it being wrapped around my passion and love for LGBTQSA everywhere. (BTW – just so you know, LGBTQSA stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Questioning, Straight, Allies).
For those of you who know me well, you know that another of my passions is looking at the differing religions and spiritual paths for commonality and for understanding. In addition, I am an avid reader. Recently, a friend of mine gave me a book called “Love for No Reason” by Marci Shimof. There is a section in that book that pulled me in, and made my heart sing. It begins by saying that love is our true nature, that it is always there; it is our essence. This meshes with the core value of Love agreed upon by our church recently, and this is perhaps why I felt as strongly as I did when I read it. The book goes on to say that all the world’s spiritual traditions speak of this larger, more expanded kind of love. It is this I would like to share with you.
In Christianity, the term that’s used for this highest and purest forms of love is agape, a word borrowed from the Greeks. In the New Testament, agape is the love that God has for man, and that He commands us to have for each other. It is selfless, generous, and healing – the foundation for a good life.
In Hebrew, the word for love is ahavah, and for Love for No Reason, ahavat chinam, literally “groundless love.” Rabbi David Thomas, describes ahavat chinam as “the love we show to a fellow human being without regard to our own interest, simply because we are human and we see the humanity of another.”
The Buddhists call this love metta or lovingkindness, love that makes one want to help and to give of oneself for the welfare and well-being of humanity. They consider this love the ultimate source of strength and power.
Hinduism uses the Sanskrit phrase parama prema (supreme love) to describe a state of love that is full, with no conditions, and that brings a person to the truth of life. And, in the sect of Islam called Sufism, the word ishq expresses this quality of unconditional and Divine Love.
What is present in all traditions is the certainty that God is love and that each one of us has access to that love inside. It’s only clouds of stress, negative habits, ego, and fear that block this pure state of love and prevent us from experiencing it.
As humans, all we can do is be willing to act on our belief in our ability to love unconditionally. Ever since we were children we may have been shown negative behavior, ego and fear by our families and friends that get in the way of knowing who we really are. We may have been taught these same things by people we know we should respect and have reverence for – our teachers, ministers, and leaders. A measure of our growth is in recognizing that these people, and circumstances, are not always right. They, too, are human, and what they are teaching has been written and interpreted by humans. And, because of that, by our repetition of the words, thoughts and ideas they may be sharing with us, we may not be right either. All we can do is examine our values, and consciously and meaningfully take action on our willingness to be loving in all ways.
Just for today, when I interact with others, I will focus on them with love.
Just for today, I will speak well of myself and others, always.
Just for today, I will engage with others to create a culture that deepens relationships.
Who are you willing to be, today?
Georgia Feiste, President of Collaborative Transitions Coaching, Inc., located in Lincoln, NE, is a personal growth and leadership coach, writer, and workshop facilitator. She is also a Usui Reiki Master and EFT practitioner. Her passion is success grounded in purpose and passion, standards of integrity and priorities in life. You can also find Georgia on her website, Collaborative Transitions, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Georgia may also be reached at (402) 304-1902 if you wish to schedule a 30 minute complementary consultation.