So, things didn't go the way I had hoped in the Indiana House of Representatives on Monday. They voted to approve SB 101, aka The Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (I wrote about it here last month.)
Clay, Will and I had a most outstanding discussion/debate on this (and other upcoming legislation) Monday evening. I didn't shout or cry or even get upset when they both pointed out dubious holes in my arguments and contestable flaws in my logic. (I still don't think I'm wrong, though, and I'm happy to report that we all fall pretty much on the same side of this particular issue.)
I mark this as a milestone. I have been working so hard toward peace in my spirit and my home; I know that discussing volatile topics in a rational, loving manner is real progress. From my grandma's Sunday dinner table to my grad school office, political discussions always devolved into fist-pounding, curse-filled vitriol. And while I was once thrilled to be in the middle of all that and out-shout others to secure my position, I am glad to say that I think I have replaced that rabid political intensity with kindness. Simple as that.
Except, of course, it's not simple. Years ago, I had to give up Face the Nation and Meet the Press. I don't watch the evening news, and avoid The View, The Talk and AM radio. Don't worry -- I haven't buried my head in the sand, I just get my news from NPR and PBS and the best show on television, CBS Sunday Morning.
I meditate, I think before I speak and I re-write all my letters to my Representatives and Senators, removing all the first draft snark. Well, most of the snark.
There's a lot of snark in the online community about SB 101 this week. While I think that it's warranted snark and the old me would love to chime in, I am choosing not to participate.
There is also a movement to boycott those businesses which choose to legally discriminate against certain individuals. While I was once a world-class boycotter (you still won't see any Nestle products in this house) and know the value of voting with my pocketbook, I think maybe a new tack is in order -- The Anyway Movement.
This beautiful letterpress print hangs in our bedroom (a gift from our friends, the Hafners), and I read it often:
Mother Teresa inscribed these words onto a wall of the children's home in Calcutta;
it's an adaptation of The Paradoxical Commandments by Kent M. Keith.
I believe that those business people and shop owners who embrace The Religious Freedom Restoration Act are unreasonable and illogical.
But I will love them and shop and utilize their businesses anyway.
I know, that's crazy talk. Very non-revolutionary. But let's revisit that imaginary cupcake shop I wrote about last month. In fact, let's call it the RFRA Bakery.
I really love their cupcakes, and shop there often. And I will continue to do so, even if they post a "We Love RFRA" sign in their front window.
For how else will they know I believe in love, justice and equality if I simply stop buying cupcakes? Would they even notice? If I saw the bakers at the grocery or a restaurant months after I stopped shopping at the RFRA Bakery, would they recognize me? Or might they just say, "Hey, didn't she used to buy cupcakes from us?"
Won't they take better notice if I am honest and frank with them? If I pin on my anyway button and tell them what it stands for? If I make myself vulnerable and go into their bakery and kindly explain how I much I love their cupcakes but believe that the discrimination they promote is deplorable?
And if I continue to shop there, wouldn't that be the best illustration of how, in spite of our philosophical differences, I am willing to continue to do business with them, just as I wish they would do with those they are choosing to discriminate against?
Wouldn't continued discussion build bridges instead of walls?
I might be completely wrong on this. As Clay and Will pointed out, at times I tend to think with my heart instead of my brain and can
And as I re-read this post, I notice that I have asked a lot of questions. I have a lot of questions. (As my hero, Anne Lamott wrote this week, "The first thing I am going to ask God when we meet face to face is, 'What on EARTH could you have been thinking?' And He or She will know exactly who I am taking about ... God will say what God said to Job -- 'I'm God, and I don't have to explain. Plus, there is a zero chance that you would understand. No offense. Rock on.'") I'm not sure that this quote is exactly germane to my point, but I love the idea of God saying "rock on," and have been itching to re-post Anne's words ever since I read them.
Justice is not easy. But it can be peaceful, and I truly believe it can be accomplished through kind words and actions.
Just say it: I will love you anyway.
I will recognize the God/Jesus/Buddha/Mohammed/higher power in you and honor that anyway.
I might suffer attack, but I will continue to try to help my brothers and sisters anyway.
I will give the best I have anyway.
Let me leave you with something that is germane, especially since this is a religious freedom discussion:
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
Maybe this should be the mission statement of The Anyway Movement. If you want to join me, I'll get you a button; I am pretty sure if you embrace the anyway of life, a button won't be your only blessing.
Peace. Rock on.
PS This is an article on the brouhaha that might have started the whole RFRA movement in Indiana -- note that "discourse remained civil" and that there was "zero hate." I would say that hate and incivility came later in the Statehouse, but I have promised not to be snarky .....