Tag Archives: compassion

It Starts with Me

22 May

I get frustrated when I feel like people that matter to me are being attacked or that there is unwillingness to explore various perspectives. So I wrote this blog, mostly to remind myself where I stand, but to also tease out some of my reasoning so that maybe it might encourage another.

the light within

I am for love

I am for compassion

I am for voicing concerns with an open heart and mind so that real understanding can come forth.

I am for finding workable solutions

I am for taking action that brings forth justice, clarity, peace, compassion, and understanding.

I believe a solution doesn’t come from the consciousness that created it. (Albert Einstein thought so too)

I believe that people are inherently good.

I believe that people make decisions based on the information they have. Sometimes it’s not accurate information, sometimes the decision is not life-affirming, and sometimes the decision comes from an illusion of not enough.

I believe that disagreeing doesn’t have to create conflict or violence.

I believe that there is enough.

I think that as a society, at least in the United States, are in a big turning point phase. I have talked about this numerous times with people one-on-one, and events have called me to take a bigger stage.

There are heart-breaking events making the news all the time, and there are plenty of folks who are happy to tell you what new indignity you should be mad enough to sign a petition about. It can easily become overwhelming. It could be easy to start down the road of hopelessness, victimhood, or apathy.  It could be easy to rage about every single thing, letting the anger build with each new revelation.

I currently live in Missouri, one of the handful of states where a bunch of my friends still can’t get married, it’s also the home of the city of Ferguson, and just down the road from the headquarters of Westboro Baptist Church. To say it’s an interesting time is an understatement.

I have heard interviews with several movie experts and they pointed out something I had already been wondering about. In the 50’s there was a cultural obsession with the ramifications of the nuclear age, think Godzilla, and there were the outbreak of disease or bio-weapon themed movies of the ‘90’s.  Now I find it interesting that there are so many books/movies/TV shows about a post-apocalyptic or dystopian world. It’s like there is this feeling of big changes ahead but no way to put it into something that makes sense. Zombies and the Hunger Games is the best popular culture can do to explain this feeling of impending change. There also seems to be a rise in superhero movies and it’s not just because Marvel is on a good run or that CGI is taking us to the next level of reality.

So what, in my opinion, is the big change that for some means zombies? In the ‘spiritual’ crowd, many are talking about a shift in consciousness, you may recall the end of 2012 and how that was going to transform everything.

I think the answer is partly in all of the above. I think that as a society, and many of our organizations that are sub –sets of our society, are experiencing growing pains. Think about an adolescent, which, on a global scale, the US is. The struggle between who that adolescent is becoming and its roots is tough. The decisions of where that adolescent’s alliances are shift as better offers are made. It’s an often confusing and chaotic time and there are strong allegiances within that are struggling with one another. The wise adult sees the bigger picture and strives to support, console, and gently nudge toward wise choices. So here we are, a country (and many organizations and companies) that are trying to figure out who we are, what we stand for, and what we want.

Then we add that we as a world seem to be heading toward some kind of critical mass moment that the scientists say is coming. Some say it’s an enlightenment, others say it’s zombies. Probably both are possible, and maybe the both are already happening. I think most of us have zombie moments. Where we do something unkind, we hurt instead of heal, we choose fear instead of compassion.  We have enlightenment too: we help, share love, lift up, seek understanding, use wisdom, and consider the big picture of our choices.

Finally, with all the adolescent in-fighting, the finger pointing, the blame slinging, and fear mongering, many are looking for a hero. When said hero isn’t perfect they get trampled for not being everything everyone needed. What if instead of following the one finger pointing out, we paid more attention to the three pointing back at us. What if we realized that WE are the heroes we’ve been waiting for? What if Margaret Mead is right?

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.~Margaret Mead

I have often said that there are several ways to go about trying to make the change you wish to see. You can stand on the outside and throw rocks at the big boat going by- which brands you a nuisance and doesn’t typically change to course of the boat. You can go elsewhere and find another boat- which also doesn’t change the course of the original boat, but you have decided to peacefully move along and make your way. Or you can get on the boat and become part of the organism that is steering. That may be the hardest route, and it may take more effort, but it is the best chance of effecting change.

It starts with me. Each day, each moment I am making choices. I choose compassion and love. I choose to be understanding even when someone around me is having a zombie moment. I choose to make amends when I have a zombie moment. I choose to see the bigger picture of the events in the world and seek understanding and wisdom about what parts I am called to take action on. I choose to be my own hero and help those who aren’t yet able to. I choose to see others who have different opinions from me as fellow beings and not the enemy. I choose to see a deeper consciousness and understanding coming forth to form solutions.

It is not always easy, no one ever said that it was. Sometimes it will feel like you are swimming upstream, that’s ok.

I choose grace



Love All Hate None (my thoughts on Fred Phelps)

18 Mar

You may have heard by now that Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church is in ailing health and presumed to pass soon. You probably are familiar with Fred and Westboro because of their penchant for picketing funerals, gay folks and soldiers are their favorites. They also like to picket productions of The Laramie Project which is a play written about the hate crime death of Matthew Shepard in 1998. Fred and Co picketed the funeral with their ‘God Hates Fags’ signs and by doing so, Fred became a character in the play.

Eleven years ago I was the stage manager for one such production at Central Washington University. The Laramie Project had been submitted for the season and not chosen by the committee who chooses such things. The students put together a petition to have it included, and it was. So there I was, 23, Stage Managing this powerful show with a zillion cues (ok, over 600) and we get word that we will be protested. Now their purpose is to get people to not do the show, but we had already fought for it, and we were committed. So we set up security protocol and what if procedures. Not really concerned that the Westboro folks would do something other than protest, but that some person influenced by them my go lone wolf.


It’s not who you love… it’s how. Kevin Bacon


All you really need to know: Love all, Hate none

As word spread, the Gay-Straight alliance started selling tshirts in support. The University had Love All Hate None shirts made up and the counter-protest was planned. The local ecumenical group wrote a letter to the editor that they didn’t condone hate, and that Westboro did not reflect their values. The first day of the protest arrived. Westboro had about 10 people on their corner. The folks under the ‘Love All Hate None’ banner? There was about 300. The wellness center had set up hydration stations, folks were drumming and hanging out. And then it happened again with about the same numbers the next night. Oh and we sold out our shows, which for a drama is quite something. One night, I swear half the audience was a sea of red wearing the shirts from the Gay-Straight alliance.

I know that our story is special, but it is not unique. I have heard countless stories about communities coming together to stand for love. In Shawnee Mission Kansas, just down the interstate from Westboro HQ, a high school turned their counter-protest into a fundraiser for AIDS. Recently a football player from the University of Missouri came out and 2000 students and supporters formed a human wall so that the player, Michael Sam, and the campus would be shielded from the Westboro protest. Motorcycle guards and more human walls are created around the country for soldiers funerals. The stories like this go on and on.

But why do I tell you all this?

Some have said we should ignore Fred, others have said we should love picket his funeral. Even before I heard that they don’t have funerals for Westboro members, making attending his funeral not a possibility, I was uncertain of what to do. (And I do live close enough to attend such a thing if I wanted to)

Ever since my experience back in 2003, I have felt that while the words and tactics they use are horrible and hurtful, there is some good in what they do. Now give me a moment to explain before you get out the tar and feathers. When you look at the countless stories of communities coming together for the common goal of respecting the fallen, standing up for love, or simply saying no to hate, can you really say there is no blessing there? The level of compassion and connection that happened in my college town was electric. Our town was rural, a cowtown, it was not liberal, and there was probably plenty of anti-gay sentiment under the surface. This brought people together like never before, to say hey, this kind of bullying is not acceptable. Not in my town. I know that this may not be the universal experience, but I have heard enough testimony to know it has been a common theme.

So no, even if there was a funeral to love picket, I would be staying home. It won’t be changing anyone’s mind. Westboro may be losing it’s founder, but it doesn’t show signs of slowing down it’s work. And to that, I think of a verse from the bible, Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” I know it wasn’t your intention Fred, but you have brought together many people in compassion and in a search for greater understanding. Godspeed and may you finally find the peace you have so vigorously been searching for.

PS Let us all continue the work of acceptance, compassion, and standing up for others. Let’s make sure our own legacies deserves a love parade.

Preacher Chick goes video!

17 Feb

Adding some variety to the menu!