Thursday, October 23, 2008

"I Hope You Know We're Not Haters"

This is an article worth reading. I wish more people could understand and feel the message -- that we can stand for what we feel and believe and have compassion for those who disagree, and for those who are personally affected by this issue.

30 comments:

Chedner said...

I do not argue that you (plural), indeed, feel bad that people are getting hurt... that's very nice of you... but what are you doing to heal the pain?

Just as faith without works is dead, so is compassion.

If you feel it necessary for people to be hurt and harmed in order for a greater purpose to be defended, again, what are you doing to alleviate the necessary pain?

m_and_m said...

Chedner,

What would you recommend that someone like me do? Here's what I am trying to do.

I am seeking to reach out and be kind to the gay people in my life. I wrote a note to my neighbor letting him know that we care about him. I try to be kind and inclusive to my family member when he is at our family gatherings.

I am writing and commenting on different blogs about the need for more compassion in the Church for those who struggle with SSA.

BTW, I don't 'feel it is necessary for people to be hurt and harmed.' I realize that some people may feel hurt and harmed, but that is not my focus. I feel it is necessary to stand up for my beliefs and also to protect my own rights. But I don't *want* to inflict pain...just as I would hope you (or others who oppose prop 8) don't on me.

actualthoughanonlesbian said...

If I run you over with my car in an effort to drive so fast I will turn back time, I may not be trying to hurt you, but I am nevertheless blameworthy for having done so, on at least two accounts (a) I cannot turn back time by driving really fast, and ought to know that; (b) it was entirely foreseeable that I would run over you or someone like you under such circumstances.

Chedner said...

I think the only thing that someone like you can do right now is to understand that it's not just a feeling of being hurt and harmed but an actual damage detrimenting [sic] the lives of people of all ages, backgrounds, and sexual orientations to say, "It is my right to have my family be claimed, in every way, superior to yours."

True compassion is to not dismiss this damage, this pain, this anguish, but, indeed, to make it your focus, to see it, to recognize it, and then to apply it to your own life in the spirit of the Golden Rule.

I used the word, "necessary," because it is, indeed, your belief that your family is superior to my future family.

Please understand that I am not saying you should or should not believe that but that such creates a horribly negative atmosphere with terrible consequences.

Kindness is... kind... but it's not compassion. Compassion is empathy, truly feeling what I, and those in my shoes, feel, making that pain a focus in your life and then taking the steps to heal the pain.

Again, though, before you can start taking the steps to heal the pain, you have to truly understand what people like I are going through. That's the first step.

m_and_m said...

actualthoughanonlesbian,
OK, I see what you are driving at (pun only sort of intended), but your analogy to me doesn't hold because it doesn't really recognize my point of view or efforts as something reasonable. Care to try again?

chedner,
Thanks for your response, and I agree that compassion is more than just being kind. It's trying to really understand.

So, since you are someone who seems willing to talk to me about this in a reasonable way, help me understand better how you feel.

djinn said...
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m_and_m said...

djinn,
I did hear about this. (I don't recognize any of the names on that letter, but what do I know?)

As far as informing the public about which companies are using client/customer resources for something they might be opposed to, I'm not sure I see that as being inappropriate. I'm not a fan of the ultimatum element of the letter, but I don't think companies should using revenue to take such a position that likely would offend a good portion of their customer base. Or at least I think that customers have the right to be informed about how their money is being spent, and be able to communicate their feelings about such choices by taking their business elsewhere. I don't think this kind of letter will accomplish much, though. And again, I don't really like the 'do this or else' tone.

But I wonder: have companies really thought through the ramifications of these choices?

There's stuff going on on both sides of this that aren't great. For example, on the 'no' side, you have people targeting Mormons, trying to dig up dirt on them personally.

m_and_m said...

chedner,
I also want to add that my efforts to be kind are not without some measure of compassion as well. I reached out to my neighbor because I am concerned about how hard it is for him to try to come to church and face comments that are sometimes made. It's hard for his parents who believe in the doctrine and believe people should be able to discuss it freely, but who also know that their son feels alone and sometimes frustrated.

I write posts about this because while I know I can't fathom fully how hard it must be to have people taking a stand like this, I can understand that it must be difficult.

For what it's worth, it's difficult for me to TAKE the stand, even as I know I have done so boldly. It's a nearly impossible situation for us to be in...those who are gay want love and support and validation, but taking a stand on prop 8 feels like they are receiving anything but these things. I really do understand that.

And at some point, I don't know what I can do except at least try to have a dialogue where we can try to see each other beyond the issue a bit...because you aren't just gay or seeking for gay marriage, and I'm not just someone supporting prop 8. We are individuals, people with whole lives and feelings and all of that. I think we *can* build some measure of respect and compassion and understanding and even love on a foundation that considers the other as a person, not just a side on an issue.

djinn said...
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djinn said...
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m_and_m said...

I agree with you, djinn. This approach of this letter is just wrong.

I'd still like to find out if it's legit, though, ya know?

djinn said...
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djinn said...
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djinn said...
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m_and_m said...

Yeah, I had just seen that article before you sent your comment.

The article states that this isn't illegal, but I agree with you that it's in poor form. And I have let people in the campaign know that I do.

I think, however, it is important not to assume that, for example, that one LDS man represents the Church or that all the ProtectMarriage campaign people would agree with this approach.

Jennifer B. said...

Thanks for the link. Wonderful article!

Thanks too, for explaining yourself so well and for refusing to be angry or frustrated by those who make false assumptions, point fingers, and insult.

I admire your compassion, your patience, and your courage in standing by your conscience.

Chedner said...

Before I make my comment, I want to sincerely emphasize that I, in no way, am challenging or trying to find fault with any belief or political stance. I am only speaking from the pain in my heart to hopefully help you understand at least a little bit of what it’s like to be in my shoes.

It is innate human nature to find a lifelong partner with whom to found and raise a family. It is an instinct, a need, a desire (and even taught to be the purpose of life within the LDS Church). To remain a member in good standing (as a homosexual unable to marry heterosexually), one must quelch [sic] that which is a core characteristic in being human.

Such is difficult enough were it to stop there; however (and I'm speaking from personal experience), in the deficit of an unfulfilled, basic human need, there is no support but an atmosphere of shame, silence, fear, and abandonment.

Still, it goes even further in that the detrimental behavior in which many gays participate in order to heal the pain caused by both an unfulfilled need and an absent healthy atmosphere is not only being blamed on homosexuality, itself, but used to "prove" that homosexuals are unfit, ungodly humans and parents. (The latter being a population of gays who have either broken away from or have never participated in detrimental behavior.)

If I were to print out and take a yellow highlighter to the what is presented at http://www.eqi.org/eabuse1.htm and http://www.eqi.org/invalid.htm, highlighting phrases and actions taken by the Church – including statements made within the most recent pamphlet, God Loveth His Children – during my years seeking help from the Church, there would be some very yellow pages, to say the least.

Again, I don't say this to disparage the LDS Church or any of its members -- or to challenge any belief -- but to simply question, “Is this truly love? Is this truly compassion?”

I mean $8,000,000+ and who knows how many hours of time and other resources have been spent by members of the LDS Church to make sure their stance on marriage is legally validated... not one dime -- not a single penny -- was spent to validate my decision as a celibate gay Mormon as I did everything I could to uphold and respect the Church's definition of marriage. Not a single cent was spent to help me sustain a life I was barely able to live as I struggled -- on my own -- to find a purpose in life.

Well, there was some money spent to send me to see a counselor and what-not, but such was in the spirit of getting me to “deal with it.”

Indeed, the largest portion of time and attention given was not to validate my life or to help me find purpose in life but to say that I was “too sensitive and overreacting, that I should just suck it up and ‘have faith.’“

To put it bluntly, no support was given me within the Church; I was on my own, and I was dying -- literally. I could find, see, and feel no purpose in life.

So I left the counsels of the Church and sought refuge in one of the most basic human needs and rights: seeking out a lifelong partner with whom to raise a family... in such I have never felt healthier, more secure, more self-assure, and even closer to God.

And the LDS Church is trying to not just legally handicap but also socially disparage that which has been bringing me comfort, support, validation, and purpose in life (when they, themselves, could not provide such for me).

Is this truly love and compassion? Abandoning me and then trying to burn down the shelter (which shelter has created nothing but goodness and healing in my life) I have run to? To create an atmosphere where I was never good enough for them and then villanizing me for leaving?

No.

Is it truly love and compassion to tell children their families are invalid, immoral, detrimental to not just their lives but society in general; that they should not talk about their families in school, should be silent about, even fear their families... just because their parents are gay?

No.

Love and compassion would be raising $8,000,000+ and serving thousands of hours to create a healthy, feasible, and productive atmosphere for those who cannot meet those expectations of marriage – if marriage, indeed, should only be between a man and a woman.

Love and compassion would be raising another $8,000,000+ and serving thousands of hours to create healthy, feasible, and productive lives for the millions of adopted and foster children currently being raised by the careful, loving hands of homosexual parents – if children, indeed, should be raised by a male and a female.


In other words, where I am standing now, there is this strong message being thrown at me by the Church, “We care more about making sure our beliefs are validated by society than we care about any part of you.”

I have been cast aside; I have been trampled on; I have been dehumanized; I have been left behind to struggle for life all on my own.

Then a Good Samaritan came and lifted me up and put me upon a path where I could be healed and live... and as I walk on this path, I am being trampled on; I am being spit at; I am being mocked; I am being dehumanized; the sacredness of my path is being profaned by those who profess moral supremacy. My motives and my life are being allowed to be defined by them and not by me, not by my actual life, not by my actual motives.

And I can do nothing to protect myself from this... all I can do is pause, take a deep breath, and keep going – hoping that one day people won’t expect me to ride in the back of the bus.

m_and_m said...

djinn,
The Bee article already states that it's not illegal, so although I understand why you see that it might be that way, it appears that it's not.

This really did bother me all day yesterday. I still don't like the fact that it happened, and I wish they had handled it differently.

But I did have the thought that perhaps it was written more like: "We are going to publish this information anyway (the info is public, so it's not like they are holding any power card, really), but we thought we'd give you a chance to balance out your stance by donating to both sides to appease your full customer base."

I don't pretend to know what was in their heads, but this was something that seemed possible to me, and helped me consider that maybe there were different ways to perceive the letter.

m_and_m said...

Chedner,
I'm sorry for the pain you have experienced. I firmly believe that the spirit of what the Church is doing is not what you have portrayed here, but I understand how it could be perceived in that way. And it does make me sad to read your words.

In a spirit of sharing, I hope you will permit me the chance to explain my view on this. For me, true love and compassion in its fullest is about much more than mortality, as hard as that may sound. I appreciate how difficult it is in our doctrine to be told that you can't have the kind of relationship you feel deep in your being that you want. I have said before that I think that SSA in the Church could be one of the most difficult trials to bear in this life.

But by the same token, doctrinally speaking, I don't believe I am truly being loving and compassionate if I condone behavior and choices that could affect you eternally. I can't pretend that I believe something I don't just to 'be loving.' I have no authority or ability to change the doctrine, and I believe it to be true. In our doctrine, homosexual partnerships cannot continue in the eternities, and as much as I don't want you to be alone now, I don't want you to be alone eternally.

Now, I understand this can't be my reasoning for supporting prop 8, so I'm not talking prop 8 right now. (My concerns about this law go far beyond my doctrinal beliefs, for I believe that my civil rights and liberties could be jeopardized if gay marriage is legal.) But as you have shared your views about our doctrine, I just wanted to share some of my thoughts on that.

It really does make me sad that our actions feel that way to you, though. I hope that at least in my efforts to listen and communicate here, that you can feel that in my own weak and simple way, I'm trying to open my heart and my blog to you in a simple effort to say that I honestly do care, even if we don't agree on some of these things (I would suspect that were we to talk about other things, we could find much on which we agree). I care that you have hurt. I care that you have struggled. I really do.

And in the end, I respect your choice to do what you feel is best for you, and I wish you the best in your journey.

Chedner said...

I firmly believe that the spirit of what the Church is doing is not what you have portrayed here, but I understand how it could be perceived in that way.

I'm not making any claims of intentions... I'm simply stating what is happening. It's not a perception, it's what actually happening.

And I'm also not saying that you should condone or even let happen what you believe is eternally detrimental, but that the truly loving and compassionate thing is to fight equally (if not more) for a better, healthier atmosphere where living the doctrines of the Church are feasible. (And, yes, implying that if the Church cannot create such an atmosphere, then it should stop fighting against something that does.)

That is, the Church has joined massively and publicly to ensure that marriage is defined as union between a man and a woman in the eyes of society... but where is the massive and public joining to support the gay members who are trying desperately to live by this standard?

Where are the millions of dollars to create a purpose for them in life? To send them to countries in need to build homes and strengthen communities. To help them be able to become self-dependent when their emotional states have rendered them, under the weight of the responsibility on their shoulders, incapable of holding a steady job.

Where are the members standing up and saying, "You know what, they are asked to do live differently, and we need to support them in this difficulty!"

Where are the petitions to the leaders of the Church to help homosexuals find a purpose in life?

Where are the cries of outrage when a member commits suicide because life simply has no purpose?

Seriously, where is the love? Where is the compassion?

I absolutely understand your desires and concerns about Eternal Salvation... but legal measures such as Proposition 8 are not saving anyone. They are not bringing anyone closer to the Church, to God, to Eternal Life.


And I don't mean to downplay your kindness and sympathy... I truly appreciate them, as I'm sure many do... but, unfortunately, it does not repair the damage.

I'm sure this creates a feeling of "What more can I do?"

Though difficult to accomplish, the answer, itself, is simple: Fight. Fight for a better life for those who are living celibate lives, who are upholding the stance that marriage and families should be founded upon a union between a man and a woman. Donate your time, money, effort, and energy to give them a purpose in their lives.

Do simple things such ask asking them to babysit your kids while you and your husband go on a date.

Do major things such as finding out what their dreams are in life (many simply desire to serve, even go out, as I suggested earlier, into the world and strengthen dying societies). Rally your wards, your stakes, to raise the funds to send them out to make a difference in the world.

Give them purpose.

Fight for their purpose.

That is compassion at its fullest. That is mercy. That is tenderness. That is charity. That is Christ.

m_and_m said...

Chedner,

To be honest with you, I don't think that gays need millions of dollars to find meaning in life. Maybe that sounds heartless, but honestly, how many people struggle with depression, self-doubt, social separateness, suicidal tendencies, etc. because of their own struggles? I think at some point, it's asking a bit much to say that I can't really be compassionate for any of these people if I don't somehow gather millions of dollars for all of these people. I think people need to feel normal, so I'd rather treat them as normal, not single them out.

And so I try to reach out in my little ways.

I can be sensitive to those around me. I can try to find out what their struggles are, and reach out to them, and pray for them, and pray for guidance on how to help them. And just try to help them realize that we all struggle.

I can try to help people, particularly in the Church, understand that there are many people suffering in silence because they are gay and face many, many heartaches because of that. This is something I feel strongly about. I write about it. I talk about it. And I will continue to do that. I don't want gays to have to go to another country to find purpose. I want them to be able to be in the Church and feel safe and supported.

I can encourage leaders to be sensitive, too.

But it's also important to realize But there are also many others who struggle in silence, too. I'm sure you know that many people are divorced, or have mental illness, or are chronically ill, and also suffer from depression, or feel unworthy, alone, paralyzed, and ashamed?

I try to do what I can to foster an environment around me where those people feel safe, too. Gays are not the only ones who struggle in this way and I think at some point, continuing to focus only on the pain of being gay doesn't help. I think part of the way to find purpose is to be a part, not be separated out. You want to be treated equally, no? So, if you want to go to another country to serve, send me an email like other friends have done, and I will try to support you in my small way as I would anyone else. Do you see what I'm driving at?

I will say, too, that ultimately, to me, chedner, the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored to the earth can help us all, regardless of what we struggle with. At some point, and in some way, we will all feel different, alone, ashamed, overwhelmed. And we hope that those around us can help, as we should.

But we cannot expect those around us to read our minds, or to do it all. We can't wait for them to support us before we can find purpose. Ultimately, we have to each be our own advocates, our own best supports. We have to do our part. We have to find purpose.

And we each ultimately have to come to Christ ourselves, because HE is the one who ultimately takes us out of our hells. And no one can do that for us.

You don't need millions of dollars of sponsorship, or to go to another country, to come to Him. He is the answer for all of our ills.

I don't absolve myself of my responsibility to do my best. I promise you that I am doing all I can to do my little part as well as I can, with all the many, many needs that are around me. I have divorced friends, infertile friends, chronically ill friends, single friends, lonely friends, struggling-with-faith friends, and gay friends. Should I really treat any of them differently? I don't want to, and I try not to.

But I promise you that this issue of reaching out and finding ways to support gays is definitely on my radar screen.

But at some point, all I can do is my best. That is all Christ asks. You cannot ask more than that of me.

And in a way, I kinda feel like you are. :)

m_and_m said...

btw, to suggest that there is no concern about suicide for any reason to me just really isn't true. I realize there may be those people who close their hearts if someone is gay, but please, please don't lump people together in such an unkind way. You speak with such extreme language that it sounds as though NO ONE has ever cared.

And that simply is just not true. Perpetuating that kind of untruth hurts us all, friend.

I'm reading In Quiet Desperation right now. I'm struck and touched by the fact that Deseret Book, the Church's bookstore, published it. That alone in my life right now testifies that there are people who care.

My friend knew Stuart Matis. I assure you that people cared that he died.

We care, chedner, we care.

Chedner said...

But at some point, all I can do is my best. That is all Christ asks. You cannot ask more than that of me.

And in a way, I kinda feel like you are. :)


That pretty much sums up what I can really say at this point.

djinn said...
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Amanda D said...

I'm sorry that everything blew up over at FMH. I appreciate your link to the article and I think I understand where you're coming from. Good luck with everything.

m_and_m said...

Thanks, amanda d.

djinn said...
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djinn said...

Happy Halloween.