Two events on the same day reminded me how screwed up we are these days. The first was the reaction to Rev. Jerry Fawell's death on Tuesday. That same evening, almost all of the GOP contenders for the presidential nomination seemed to endorse using torture in the War on Terror. Concerning Fawell, it was disturbing to see how many people in the gay community were downright mean concerning his death. It was also disturbing to see so many Republican presidential candidates (inlcuding Rudy Giuliani, my leading favorite) seem not to have a problem with using tactics like waterboarding on terror suspects.
It's interesting in this age where we are so self-reveling about every level of our lives, with blogs and services like YouTube, we don't seem to be so interested in examining our lives and how we live. We are wonderful at telling others how to live, but not so interested in wondering how we are living our own lives.
For example: torture. Many of my compatriots on the right side of the spectrum seem to not have a concern with torturing someone for information. "If it saves lives, then it's okay," they seem to think. They forget the adage that Senator John McCain, who happens to know about torture in a very intimate way, that torture does damage to our reputation more than it provides information to prevent a terrorist attack. The funny thing among a lot of conservatives is that we don't seem to care one way or another about the consequences. There is a certain amount of smugness among some on the right in that America is great, not because of how we live our lives in the world, but by who we are. America is good because it is America. That is a dangerous conotation, because it ignores the fact that people are judge as good or bad by their actions, not by who they are. Some kid in Iraq or Iran is not going to ignore how we treat prisoners. You can rest assured that someone like bin Laden will use such moral failings to prove his point that America is evil and needs to be destroyed. The GOP presidential candidates, minus McCain, are basically doing bin Laden's work.
Now to Fawell. I have to be honest and say that I didn't miss Fawell, but I didn't see his death as a good thing either. Maybe what has saddened me is to see the gay community show such gracelessness towards this death. I can understand the anger, but I have a hard time understanding the basic lack of humanity.
Many in the gay rights movement have talked about the connections between our struggle for rights and the struggle of African Americans. They leech on to the legacy to Dr. Martin Luther King and talk about our movement as the same moral struggle as the civil rights movement. As an African American and as a gay man, I can say this is complete bullcrap. My gay brothers and sisters are clueless to the true meaning of that movement. Dr. King did preach justice for African Americans and condemned those that blocked the progress of African Americans. But you know what? He also loved those same people. He loved them enough to believe they could be redeemed. His Christian faith taught him to seek the wholeness of both the oppressor and the oppressed.
Sadly, most gays and lesbians do not show the same grace that King and many African Americans did back in the 50s and 60s to those that hated them. Instead of showing love when one hates, we have decided to hate them as much they hate us. We celebrate when they die.
Dr. King was working for the redemption of America. He saw racism as this nation's original sin, and wanted to find ways to not only bring freedom for African Americans, but to heal the entire land. His nonviolent campaign of love is responsible for the change that has happened in our society. No, racial progress hasn't been easy, but it has happened.
Frankly gay people need to learn to care for those that oppose us. No that isn't easy. But we need to have more pity for them than hate. I am more sorrowful that Rev. Fawell never understood that we gays were not the threat he thought we were, than scornful of him. True justice won't happen, by "winning" against the far right, but by urging them to repent. Love, seeing the enemy as a human being loved by God or whatever higher being, is what changes society. Storing up wounds does nothing but hurt us.
In both cases, people need to do some introspection. We are not righteous in our own being. We are judged by how we live our lives. Yes, terrorists and bigots are judged, but so are we. Torturing someone, or rejoicing in the death of someone you don't like says a lot more about your moral character than it does your enemy.
The Bible states that we need to look at the planks in our own eyes instead of the specs in our brother's eyes. It's time for gays and conservatives to do some heavy-duty introspection, to save their own souls.