“Love is Heavy, but Hate is a Burden” or “The Old Switch-a-Roo”

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”-Martin Luther King, Jr.index

Love is heavy.

It brings with it many frustrations and tears.

I walk with people caring for aging parents and see this to the fullest.  They are tired, weary, worn.  They love their parents…but it is a heavy burden.

I walk with new parents and see the same thing, after a while.  They are tired, weary, worn.  They love their children…but they’re a burden.

Or parents of children with special needs.  Or adults who work primarily in the service industry.  Or adults who work in social services, or nurses, or educators, or hospice workers.

Or people who do justice work.

Because, and this is a truth about humanity that I think is under-appreciated by those who don’t work daily, one-on-one, with a wide swath of humanity: people suck.

They do; no two ways about it.

But sometimes the general nature of people can get the best of us.  Especially those of us who fancy ourselves as doing justice work.

How easily justice work can turn into hatred.  I’ve seen that too many times.  Justice work becomes full of “us and them” dichotomies when the heart is left unattended.  The unattended heart easily turns to hate over time.  Calcification is the natural state of everything that is left alone.

The heart is no exception.

We like to think that love and hate are opposites.  No; they are cousins.  Love and apathy are opposites.  Hate and apathy are opposites.  Love and hate are cousins who quickly dress alike in their zeal and passion when left unattended.

Love and hate are like those twins you dated in high school.  You’re always wondering if they’ve pulled the old “switch-a-roo” on you.

It does no good to hate the oppressor…MLK knew this in a powerful way that is instructive for us all.

Working against an oppressor must be a labor of love, not a labor of hate.  If it’s not, then pain is just transmitted instead of transformed.

This, of course, is easy for me to say as a white, able-bodied, heterosexual, male.

But even there, too, I must be careful.  In my zeal for justice work I can get sucked into reactionary hate against my status and privilege.

I must learn to give up my privilege as best I can.  Hating it does very little to change things.  Only in giving things up can we change them.

Jesus understood this.  “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.”

As I said, MLK knew this.  He gave up his justifiable hatred for a humanity that moved…moves…too slowly toward justice and peace.

But that’s indicative of a heart attended to.  Attending to the heart is heavy work.

But letting the heart calcify…that’s the work of the dying and dead.

I think the task of justice work these days is to work against systems of oppression while also attending to the heart.

Unfortunately I don’t see it very often.  Too much “us and them” talk coming from liberal circles.  Too much silence from conservative circles.

The radical circles are the ones speaking against justice while attending to the heart.  MLK was a radical, not letting the heart calcify to the point of hate.  I think he knew that, to do otherwise would be to replace one burden for another.

And Lord knows we have too many burdens to add anymore to this world.

A Question for the Boy Scouts

I wasrainbow scoutsn’t ever a Scout.

I’ve known straight Scouts.

I’ve known gay Scouts.

I’ve known good and bad examples of both gay and straight Scouts, I think.  Their sexual orientation had nothing to do with their failure or success.

But I was never a Scout.

So, I want to ask Scouts a question: which of the 12 Core Value is most important?

Citizenship, compassion, cooperation, courage, faith, health and fitness (inexplicably one value), honesty, perseverance, positive attitude, resourcefulness, respect, or responsibility?

I want to know because I’m trying to understand what the ruckus over gay Scouts and Scout leaders is.

Because, as far as I can tell, encouraging Scouts to stay in the closet through barring and banning threats violates courage, honesty, respect, and responsibility on the Scout’s part, and compassion and cooperation on the establishment’s part.

So I’m trying to figure out how this was ever an issue. It seems like an honest Scout is the best Scout.

And I’m trying to figure out how they can allow openly gay Scouts, but not openly gay Scout leaders.  Are leaders not expected to uphold these values as well?  If they are to teach and model them, I don’t see how it can be otherwise.

I’m just really at a loss as to how this is an issue.  And I’m also at a loss as to how churches are now banning the Scouts over their half-hearted policy change.

Do these churches imagine that everyone in their doors are straight?  If so, they are delusional.

Are they imagining that Jesus would not have dined in the houses of the Boy Scouts because they now allow gay Scouts (but not, for some unknown reason–that I can only imagine has to do with some unscientific and failed belief in sexuality and sexual practice–gay leaders)?  If so, they are not only delusional but also illiterate.

Read the Gospels.

Because just as much as I want to ask the Scouts which of the 12 Core Values is most important, I want to ask those churches now threatening to deny Scouts a home which of Jesus’ teachings are most important.  The one on love?  Peace? Blessing? Self-sacrifice? Compassion?

Or the (non-existent) one on sexual orientation?

I would like to know.

Because my understanding of honesty means being honest with yourself and others, which includes an understanding of your sexuality.  Some might say it’s a personal responsibility thing to be honest about your sexuality.  Some might say it’s a courageous thing.  Some might say such an admittance to yourself and the world takes the conscious decision to cooperate with your sexual orientation rather than deny it to the detriment of your sanity, your health, and your relationships, and shows perseverance to do so in the face of discrimination.  Some might say it takes resourcefulness to pull up the necessary faith in yourself and your abilities to be so honest.  Some might claim it takes respect for yourself and a positive attitude to approach the subject with such openness.  And such openness is indicative of a compassionate nature, and let’s be clear, honest citizens are the best citizens.

In my estimation, it seems honesty might be the key to upholding the 12 Core Values.

So, enlighten this reluctant Christian, made that much more reluctant because we’re represented on front-page headlines by these sorts of squabbles and these mind-boggling banning policies: why is this an issue?