Last night after meeting with my LGBTQ book club and talking about social isolation, and what I had written but not yet posted about the massacre in Pennsylvania, I thought I should go ahead and post the piece here. Then, this morning, I woke up to another massacre, this one in a Southern California club. In the hopes that in the midst of so many of our hearts breaking over the news, wondering what in the world we can do to make a difference, I post this so that it might be food for thought and perhaps food for action and hope. Sitting in Michigan visiting with my family a headline crossed the TV screen about the mass shooting at a temple in a Pennsylvania synagogue. My cousin dove for the remote and switched to another channel so her young children wouldn’t see the breaking news in the middle of a family reunion.
17 more dead. “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.” Sackcloth, ashes, bowing your head… Actually, on the night 17 people were killed in Florida, I thought to myself that maybe my husband and I should fast. We didn’t.
Did you ever have one of those moments when you were having a discussion with people you knew, loved, and respected, and one of them said something that made your jaw drop, or, in the case of our friend Julie, something that left you standing there with a clicking noise in your head? Have you ever found yourself wondering “How did this person come to think this particular way, especially when I see things SO differently?” That clicking sound, or the jaw dropping, also represents a moment in many cases where we STOP really listening to each other. We dismiss the other person as being misguided, wrong, out of touch… different.
Soon after the news from Nice popped up on my newsfeed an old friend wandered into our shop. Last I’d seen her she had told me that her partner of 16 years had died after a long battle with cancer. She was leaving town, then, and I wasn’t sure if or when I’d see her again. Now here she was, grieving, in need of a friend to talk to. I closed my computer and for the next hour and a half, except when briefly interrupted to help another customer, I spent the time talking…
Despite being quite out of the closet myself, ready to TELL anyone that I am gay, married to the man I’ve loved for 26 years, until today I’ve always been squeamish about SHOWING that side of myself, with signs of affection like holding hands and kissing. Now, I think, that needs to change. Seeing two men, two women, or two people whose genders you can’t easily guess share a brief hug, kiss, or hold hands should be as common as seeing two people who are clearly of opposite genders doing the same. No one should be shocked, surprised, afraid, repulsed, or thrown into a murderous rage over that.
As a grandchild of the holocaust, brought up on the horrible images and stories of that which we were told to never forget, one word came to mind this afternoon when my friend Samina Sundas called to tell me about armed protests planned against Muslims this coming weekend: Kristallnacht. On November 9th and 10th 1938 in Germany and Austria a rampage of orchestrated anger against Jewish people resulted in 1,000 synagogues and 7,000 businesses, and thousands of hospitals, homes, and schoolsbeing destroyed by vicious mobs who also killed and maimed hundreds of Jews. The name, Kristallnacht (night or broken glass), came from the shards of glass littering the streets of Jewish communities. 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps in just a few days and, in the end, over 6 million Jewish people were slaughtered in the holocaust. This weekend, on October 9th and 10th, an organization calling itself the Global Rally for Humanity is calling on ‘Fellow Patriots, Veterans, Bikers, Rednecks And Good Ol’ Boys’ to rally against Islam outside of Mosques and other Muslim organizations across the country.
Adam Smith’s work is misrepresented to say that no one, especially government, should interfere with the markets. But in Smith’s other major work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, he argued that the happiness of individuals and of society as a whole depended in large measure on interventions by the state, outside the workings of the market.
Most people of any faith, or no faith at all, would live up to the nearly universal call to treat every single one of creation’s children with dignity and respect. If you make pizza for a living, make the best darned pizza you can and be thankful that people want to buy it.
For the last 30 years, Christians across this country have worked doggedly to fling the church doors wide open to LGBTQQI people. The unabridged, unapologetic Gospel of the Jewish carpenter, executed because he dared to speak out against injustice and stood up for the poor, rings loudly in thousands of churches across this country. It is a message of love and absolute acceptance, with doors flung wide open proclaiming that all are welcome, and cursed be the one who puts up a stumbling block to the children trying to reach him.