Sunday, May 20, 2007

True Colors

Today has been one of those days where nothing seems to have gone right. Nothing too serious has gone wrong. It is just many small things, when taken all together, that make the day, well, bad. I don't like days like this. I feel guilty for being unhappy, yet to act any other way would be a lie. So for today, Eeyore I will be.

If you are wondering what is so bad (remember I said it is no one thing), here is the list:
  • Though I have had my choir vestments at home for nearly two weeks, I forgot to wash them. (Do I get credit for washing every single throw rug in the house because the puppy thinks they are grass?) This morning my vestments got an all expense paid trip to the dryer with the finest of dryer sheets to remove the wrinkles that resulted from being wadded up on the counter for said two weeks and to minimize the sweaty odor from our last concert where it was 350 degrees by actual count!
  • The ice maker on the fridge has ceased to work. This is tough for one who thinks that iced tea is gasoline for the human body.
  • I am exhausted.
  • The dogs ate the entire container of Parmesan cheese that was intended to put the gourmet touch on the sauteed vegetables and spaghetti that we had for dinner.
  • The float on the toilet is sticking making it necessary to remove the lid and manually adjust it each time you flush. (Without iced tea this is not as often as it could be!)
  • And the dogs, in a moment of true dogginess that involved chasing one another through the house (this is a definite disadvantage to a round house) knocked over and broke a two foot statue of St. Francis. Though still in its bubble wrap, it is is too many pieces even for super glue.

That's all.

While wandering around feeling sorry for myself, I spied a hank of yarn on the table in the playroom.Yesterday the Accidental Knitter and the Knitting Fairy came to visit. The Accidental Knitter brought newly dyed yarn for us to name - always a fun time. When this particular hank made its way out of the bag, everyone said that it looked like me, not that it really lookedi like me (that would be the undyed stuff) But that it looked like something I would like. I did and I handed over the cash immediately!But, there were three more hanks just like it that still needed a name. I was too busy drooling over the colors, imagining how they would look when they were knit into a fabulous sock, to engage in the naming process. When I finally came back to the party, they had named it Primarily Kris. A perfect name, don't you think? Here it is.

Awesome, huh? Don't you just love all the blues? I really should have just left it alone for now, but I had the urge to put it on the swift and wind it into a ball - making it one step closer to knitability. I really don't have anything in particular that I want to be knitting right now. I did finish a pair of socks the other night during the show. Never mind the fact that I started them before Christmas. To the swift I went. Though I should be doing laundry or the dinner dishes that are still on the counter, I am winding my yarn. We have another weekend of the show's run. I should be able to get a good start on a pair of socks!

Here is the wound ball.

This will be a great pair of sock made from a yarn with a cool name. I love my friends. Did I mention the cinnamon buns and the chocolate chip cookies that they also brought? True calories to go with my true colors! Life is looking up.

What Is Hate?

The Denton Community Theatre's production of The Laramie Project opened last night to a small but appreciative audience. Tonight was a larger audience-possibly because the performance was to be followed by a "talk back" on the question, "What would Denton do if a similar incident were to occur in our town?' The discussion was facilitated by a three-member panel consisting of a psychologist who specializes in post traumatic stress, a social worker who happens to be a gay man, and a faculty member form the university who works in the field of diversity. Further participants were members of the cast and crew and any members of the audience who wished to stay. The discussion began with a rather academic definition of what post traumatic stress is and how it impacts individuals and communities. Next was a description of what diversity really means and what equality, ideally, is. Then the floor was opened to comments from the audience.

The first person to speak gave a positive review of the night's performance and stated how proud he was to live in a community that was willing to engage in a production that highlights a controversial topic. This sentiment was echoed by one or two others. Then a gay man who is involved with a local GLTB group spoke. He talked about times where he had been victimized in Denton. Though I think that at the outset, people were sympathetic to his cause, he had a chip on his shoulder and wanted a forum for his complaints rather than to offer any insight into how he might play a role in making Denton a place where a crime such as the murder of Matthew Shepard would be most unlikely.

Then came the one person that we all knew would be there but hoped would not. It is not a particular named person, but the one who would be on "the other side". This man began by asking, "By what standard do you define hate?" Several people responded with such things as the laws of our land, personal morals, anything that promotes inequality through race, gender, disability, sexuality. He was not satisfied by any of the answers to his question. He concluded that there really is no standard by which hate can be defined. He then asked, "Is there such a thing as absolute truth?" Unsure how to respond, one of the panel members returned his question to him. He said, "Yes, I do believe there is an absolute truth." He would not, however, clarify what he believed that absolute truth to be. A fascinating circular discussion ensued.

I believe that he wanted someone to say that absolute truth was defined by the Bible. And if we believed this then, according the Bible (or his reading of the Bible) homosexuality is wrong. Thus, what happened to Matthew Shepard, and other victims of "hate crimes" was not hate. It was the way the world should be as defined by holy scripture. Fortunately, no one took his bait and he never had the opportunity to make his point.

He wanted to make a scene. The others taking part, obviously a liberal majority, took to heart the message of The Laramie Project. By not engaging in hurtful language or dialogue, we took the first step to erasing hate, to creating an atmosphere of hope.

Though I know I would not agree with much of what this man wanted to say, he did pose an interesting question. What is hate? How would you personally define it? How do we as a society define hate?

I believe that hate is a response to a feeling of intense fear, fear of someone or something that is so different from what we know that we are unable and unwilling to try to understand it. Human beings have at the top of their "To Do" list, self preservation. Fear rises up when we are threatened. The question becomes why are we so fearful? Why do we feel threatened by homosexuals, African Americans, Hispanics, disabled persons, old people, young people. The key to diminishing hate in our society is diminishing fear. How can this be accomplished?

I believe that dialogues such as the one that happened this evening is a start. Unfortunately, time was not on our side. The show ended about 10:15 and it was nearly 10:30 before we got started. And, it was 11:15 before we really got started with the meat of the discussion. It was late and we had to come to abrupt stop. We did, however, have a start.

St. Francis had an intense dislike for lepers. It was confronting his fear of lepers that led to his conversion and his lifelong relationship with God. He was able to overcome his fear of these person he saw as disgusting. We all have "lepers" in our lives. Like St. Francis, we must confront them and work to overcome our fear of them. This is the only way that we, as individuals and a society, can rid ourselves of hatred.

As you consider who the lepers are in your own life, remember too that you are probably a leper in the life of another. Consider both sides of the issue.

What is hate?