Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A Descending Spiral...

Madame DeFarge, A Tale of Two Cities

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.

Something's bothered me for a while and I've kept silent about it---well, if you don't count occasional spurts of frustration on Facebook and various forums. I remained silent because I just couldn't put my finger on what actually disturbed me. I couldn't, as hard as I tried, make a connection in my mind as to why I was disturbed or tack a name to the angst growing bigger and bigger inside me.

But this weekend I stumbled on photos from the Dickens classic, A Tale of Two Cities.

And then it became so clear. And when it did become clear, it became even more frustrating and...frightening.

This week, upon the death of Margaret Thatcher, I was shocked and dismayed over the giant uproar---the joyous uproar---of so many chanting all over Twitter and Facebook such things as "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead...' gleeful voices raised in celebration at the passing of a public official. By the degree of happy pandemonium, you would have thought a violent dictator had been executed. Oh, I don't know British politics but I do know hate when I see it.

And those merry cheers immediately brought to mind the roaring crowds I'd read of during the French Revolution. The crowds gathering to cheer on the beheadings of the aristocrats. Barbaric pleasure they took in these executions.

And, no, it wasn't just the reaction to the Thatcher's death that hit home with me. It was something that had been brewing inside me for some time and this event only seemed to bring it to the surface for me, to put a name on it.


The power of hatred among a group of people.

What may surprise you is that the hatred I speak of---the hatred that has upset me for a while now---is not among those bigots against who we fight for equality. Oh, they are filled to the brim with hate, that's for sure. But it's not them who have troubled me lately.

No. It's those who do fight for equality who are showing the hatred so blatantly.

Specifically, not a day goes by that I do not see on various forums the rants against Christians. Everything unfair thing that happens in the name of hatred is somehow lumped in with the name Christian. I see the word every day and it's rarely---if at all---in conjunction with anything good.

An us-against-the-Christians voice it seems.

And, upon seeing this so much, I was reminded of such violent events in history such as the executions in France during the revolts. The frenzied fury of those so full of revenge and hatred that they simply dragged every person who even hinted of having money and slaughtered them along with those who actually did deplore them.

The fight for justice and equality gone berserk. The furor seeping into sensibility and discoloring even the innocent; therefore sending them to death for having done nothing but been wealthy.

Unfortunately, such hatemongers as the Westboro Baptist Church have put a black spot on all religion as far as the fight for equality goes. Now it seems the very word Christian is the keyword for bigotry, along with the word Republican. Every day I read comments that---for every wrong done against the equal rights movement---it must be those Christians, those conservative religious zealots, etc., etc.

Do you want to know why this scares the hell out of me?

Because I am a Christian. Yes.

No, I do not attend church. I don't feel whether I sit in a brick building every Sunday has any bearing on what's in my heart.

But I do follow the teaching of Christ which---if anybody studied hard enough---would prove to be just the same philosophies as all teachers of peace since the beginning of time. He taught that we were all the same. Everybody sins.

And....I might add here that sin---the actual Hebrew translation---meant nothing more than missing the mark. An arrow shooting and falling short of the bullzeye. A human thing. Not a doomed-to-hell fault but just a very human part of life. We miss the mark, we get up and go again.

Love. He did teach love. He didn't hang out with the sanctimonious. They, in fact, were the ones who persecuted him because he was different. They were scared of him and his truth. He was a threat to their old ways, their ancient beliefs and holier-than-thou arrogance. He was the equality fighter of his day. He died for it.

If he walked among us today, he would be right there in the middle of the fight for equality. He would never have judged. Never.

Do you see what I mean? By using this coverall label of Christian, to lash out at anyone who does call themselves so, you're targeting me and you might accidentally be lumping me in with those who do hate. And I might get hit in the crossfire. Because the animosity is so strong toward the name, I fear it will only keep cooking until it boils over.

I do not know a remedy for it all. I only know it's unfortunate to find myself thrown into this mix, to have to defend myself and what I believe in when I am as big a believer in equal rights as the others who fight for it.

If anything, it breaks my heart for the Churchians (a term a minister used to define those who merely sat in a pew on Sundays but who did not practice what they preached) to call themselves Christians and then to display such bigotry and hate.

But, again, I don't know a way to fix it.

The only thing I can do is live what's really in my heart, to stand strong on my beliefs of equal rights for all. To let my life be a witness, to show that a Christian loves, a Christian loves everyone equally.

Just, please. When you do refer to bigotry and hatred, please be careful when using the word Christian. Because if you aim it at a true Christian---who really embraces what the man whose name it is derived taught---you've got the wrong guy.


Kenzie Michaels said...


I very quietly expressed my views two weeks ago and was raked over the coals by someone I considered a 'friend'. What drives me crazy is, it's okay for certain groups to very loudly express their opinion, but woe to those who disagree with them.

It used to be you were 'black balled' if you expressed anything anti-Christian. But now we get 'black balled' for standing up for our beliefs? I think we've slid back into the Middle Ages.

Unknown said...

And the saddest part is, A true Christian will take the hit in silence because I've never met a true Christian who fight hate with hate, even in their own defense. I was born and raised a Christian. I constantly fall short of the mark of living up to that birthright in its true meaning. One day, I see the word becoming a pejorative no one wants to be associated with.

C. Zampa said...

Kenzie, I can see some where the antagonism comes from. But it's just not all Christians. Not true ones.

C. Zampa said...

I honestly don't feel I am fighting hate with hate, Jaime. I've tried not to be defensive here.

And perhaps I should have kept what I felt in silence.

But the Christ I've read about DID fight out many times, not always quietly and meekly either.

Liv Olteano said...

I felt very troubled at those reactions regarding Margaret Thatcher's death, too. Deeply troubled. Though maybe regarding her passing as a relief for her might be a point I'd consider, being happy about it is just disturbing.

You either believe in human rights and they apply to ALL equally or you're a hatemonger and apply things as it pleases you, that's how I see it.
It's horrifying to see people overjoyed at the passing of another human being, whoever they'd be or whatever would they have done. I despise child molesters, for instance, and I might feel inclined to say 'castration' or 'death penalty' for violent crimes (though I don't feel comfortable with death penalty as long as the justice system can ALWAYS get things wrong) , but I'd never enjoy the thought of that being applied, not even to those who've done such crimes against me.

I'm an Orthodox Christian though not a church-lover by any means. I've read on the Books of more then one religion, and all of them say the same thing as far as I'm concerned: unconditional love, acceptance, and standing up for justice.
Hate is never justice and justice never embraces hate.

Thank you for speaking out about this, it's been on my mind too and I'm happy to know I wasn't the only one feeling that way.

Lou said...

Carol, nice work on this blog. I've had a recent experience after I'd expressed something about my own childhood experience growing up in a nominally Christian sect that is sometimes considered a cult, which naturally was quite negative and destructive in my life. I was accused of making anti-Christian statements. This after I'd just come tocthe defense of friends who choose to pray through Jesus Christ. I hear ugly statements, judgmental and uninformed, and yes even violent sound bytes coming from everywhere. There is an exclusive factor in Christianity that by nature is elitist, at least with most translations of the alleged words of Jesus: he said, "I am THE way, the truth," not, one of the ways.Taken on face, that means others are wrong, and excluded. I know many, however, who (possiby like you?) examine the spirit of their God's intenions and find indeed a God of love--for all. If anything will prevail over hate (unfortunately not a sure thing), it will be love, whether seen as sourced from any given deity or simply as a product of open eyes and human heart. Bravo, my friend, for the courage behind this post. Please, don't remove yourself from the discourse, as flawed as it my be.

H.B. Pattskyn said...

I couldn't agree more! I get a double dose of "Christian bashing" in the circles in which I travel because on top of being bisexual and a pretty out supporter of equal rights, I'm Pagan. And it never ceases to amaze me how people can say "equality for all" on the one hand and "down with the awful X's" on the other (X can really be anything, although usually it is Christians, but sometimes it's something else).

But not all Christians are the same, just like not all Pagans are the same and not all gay people are the same and not all straight people are the same. Some people are, saddly, driven by fear and hate; others are driven by love and compassion. What we need more of the latter, lots of open dialogue, and a little more willingness to trust, and learning how to see people as individuals and judge them on their own merits, not the merits of other people (there are certainly *lots* of Pagans whose merits I don't want to be judged by).

Thanks for the great post, Carol. We have a long way to go, but we'll get there if we all work together.

C. Zampa said...

Liv, thank you for your words. Right on.
And, boy, I'll be the first to say that 'unconditional' part is very hard. But it is the way it's supposed to be.
Thank you so much for visiting!

Unknown said...

The way I've looked at it is the one's who preach the intolerance and hatred such as the Westboro Church, really aren't Christians. Their entire tenant of hate is exactly what Christ preached against. So it's not Christians that are bad, it's the people pretending to be Christians.

But I do know what you mean. I see it on lists where some very ugly words get thrown at people who defend their faith. The only time I get upset with any religious person is when they think they have the right to make everyone live by their faith's rules.

But really, if you're preaching tolerance and acceptance, then to be truly accepting, it has to be to everyone, regardless of their beliefs, as long as those beliefs don't inflict hurt on others.

This isn't quite the same topic, but I found it upsetting that with the Stuebenville case I have read people who think it was horrible that this girl was raped, that the people associated with it should be raped to 'know what it feels like' Really? You oppose rape, but in certain circumstances, like to punish someone, it's okay? Talk about mixed messages.

Good post, Carol. Something that needs to be talked about more. And no, I'm not Christian, but the majority of my friends are and I don't like seeing them or anyone being punished for the actions of a few who like I said, aren't even practising the faith they claim they're protecting.

C. Zampa said...

Excellent thoughts, Lou. And you know, he does say 'The' way.

But you know what? I'm not sure at all exactly what interpretations of the Bible are totally legitimate. I'd read once that it was a bit 'padded' for the King in the King James version.
For instance, there are not 'many mansions' in Heaven, but 'rooms'...LOL. I wonder how much, sometimes, was altered to appease the church during this translation.

The basics of the teachings I hold to, as they pretty much are the same as Buddha, etc., and all the ancient teachings.

And---damn---I hate that you had the experience of the 'anit-Christian' bashing. Because I often will speak out on that as well. Because my upbringing was strict, too. Hard core at one time. And not a good influence, either.

Thank you, love, for sharing your thoughts.

C. Zampa said...

Helen, I'm sorry you suffered that way, too.
And, see, that's the thing.
Your beliefs are YOURS. Tolerance is tolernace, period. And includes the tolernace for anybody's personal faith.
If I'm using my 'faith' to bash others and promote hate---like Westboro---then, yes, I'm so wrong.
They've put such a black mark on the other faiths, and I hope the world will see that one day and learn to see the difference.

C. Zampa said...

Hey, Pat!

You hit the key word, 'pretending', and that's what those like Westboro and those who are so intolerant are. Well, look at me, judging them. I can't know their hearts, but I can at least say they're misguided. Maybe they think they are earnest, just earnestly wrong. And, even sadder, they are following like sheep whoever is teaching them this intolerance.

Tali Spencer said...

One of the most illuminating experiences of my childhood was not growing up with a swinger bisexual politically conservative socially liberal father (itself an interesting time) but when after my parents divorced we went to live with my fundamentalist Christian grandparents. They had their hands full with us, and I was a mouthy free-thinking child, but they were patient as saints. Decent, honest, hard-working Bible-reading people...and when I questioned their faith, they were glad to talk about it and what being a Christian meant. They condemned wrongdoing, never condoned violence against others, and supported charity to the less fortunate. I did not like spending two weekends a month at soup kitchens or delivering holiday meals to the poor, but now that I look back... They loved God through their deeds and prayed for their fellow humans to find peace and love. And they weren't backward thinkers, not by a long shot. We read and talked about other holy books, too, including the Quran, and compared their visions of being godly. They were suspicious of Catholics (my grandmother actually called them Papists) but included the parish priest among people who'd stop in to visit. We talked about Atlantis (Edgar Cayce, anyone), Mu, Asia (missionaries visited a lot) and the difference between belief and faith. Once I eased up on the hostility, I saw that I could take away a few really good things. For one thing, I know my scripture inside and out and backwards, too. :D And can sing about a hundred hymns (but you really don't want to hear that). But I think it opened me up, to be honest, and made me less judgmental. There's this amazing thing called the Golden Rule, and it's the best rule ever. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." And it's everywhere. It's in the Quran; it's in the Tripitaka. It's the ultimate human guideline for living with ourselves and others.

One of my sons is a radical atheist and every once in a while I call him out when he gets all "the Christians" on me. "Have you talked to any Christians lately? Have you talked to your grandmother?" And then we discuss "The Moral Landscape" intelligently and lay the blame on religious zeal and politics where it belongs. People sometimes get so caught up in defending the rightness of their rhetoric they don't see how they are being just as religious as the nuts.

C. Zampa said...

Tali! Oh, man, I would love to have known you!
And your grandparents sound like wonderful people, embracing their faith and using it to spread their own light. I love that!
And the Golden Rule. See, that was what I was trying to say. The same fundamental principals are in every faith. Nothing new, just so simple and pure.
Thank you for sharing!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Human beings having been hating each other since the beginning of time. I find that amazing. Each generation criticizes the last, yet we show so little advancement as decent folk. We aren't anymore tolerable than they were 2000 years ago.

I think the task we're left with is to keep our focus on staying true to what is Godlike. No judging, high tolerance, respect for all peoples, and the willingness to say, "No, that is not acceptable behavior in my space."

You, my dear Carol are a credit to the human race. I think your parents did a fabulous job!

C. Zampa said...

You're right, Joylene. They've always found something to hate.

And I like that thought, 'No, that is not acceptable beahior in my space.' That is it, exactly!

And you, my friend, are a credit to the human race. **Hugs and love***