As I learn more about myself — middle age will do that to you, if you pay attention — I realise that standing up for the voiceless is one of the strongest reasons I’m such a loudmouth. (And yes — I do realise I’m always on a soapbox!)
I’ve seen too many wonderful people — from small children to grown adults — bullied. Run over roughshod by people who either a) don’t get it, b) don’t care, or (worst of all) c) bully on purpose. With knowledgeable malicious intent. I hope that sounds criminal to your ear; I meant for it to.
So imagine my horror when I read a recent NY Times story about one of my innocuously named nemeses: the American Family Association. Listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for its militant homophobia, the organisation has out-done itself recently. It has asked parents to keep their children home on ‘Mix It Up at Lunch Day,’ an anti-bullying program organised by the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance project.
You read that right: the AFA is boycotting an anti-bullying day. And why? Because the AFA says it introduces children to the homosexual lifestyle…Wow. Sounds like the AFA is the mixed up one…
I don’t understand when being against bullying — which is not specific to gay kids getting beat up in school; witness the profoundly sad Amanda Todd case in Canada — became a rally point for homophobes. For 10 years, the SPLC has sponsored the attempt to get students of all ages (and even college kids need this, believe me) to sit w/ a different group at lunch. To learn about someone different.
Note: despite what homophobes think, there is no single gay ‘look.’ I guarantee you there are men & women you know who are in the closet, AFA. And that you have NO idea. What the Teaching Tolerance project is about is undoing (‘unlearning, as I blogged about yesterday) the stereotypes that lead to bullying. Amanda Todd made a couple of very sad choices. But someone far worse than anything Amanda did exploited those choices, and this poor misery-ridden child, to the point of her suicide.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if our children learned, instead of exploitation & bullying, compassion and caring? Doesn’t that fit the general tenor of the New Testament (which I’ve actually read — like the Old Testament before it) better than “stay away from those who are different”? I’m not sure what Christian Bible the AFA are reading, but the one I grew up on — and the parts of it I still revere — had to do with Jesus taking up w/ the underclass, walking with prostitutes, and promising thieves the glory of heaven. Nowhere in his sermons do I recall a ‘shun those who are different’ injunction…
Imagine a lunch room where the black kids & white kids didn’t all sit apart from each other by race. Where the rural kids and the urban kids shared their sack lunches. Where nerds & jocks laughed about the most recent movie together. And yes, where a child not certain of his/her gender identity needn’t worry about being slammed into a wall…
The saddest fallout to the AFA’s agenda (which has ‘retaliated’ against the SPLC by calling it ‘anti-Christian’) is what children will learn: that ‘difference’ is anti-Christian. That the message of the Bible — love & compassion and tolerance — is, in fact, not what they should practice. And I can’t imagine anything sadder, or more antithetical to the teachings of Jesus.
But then, I’m just a Buddhist and a teacher who loves kids. What would I know…?