“Lord, make me a channel of thy peace–that where there is hatred, I may bring love–that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness–that where there is discord, I may bring harmony…”
I have to admit it. In the last two weeks, I have learned more about the purpose of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) than I thought I could. I thought I knew all I needed to know when I first dove into this late last year. I was wrong.
I now see its usefulness and feel ok about its passage. I don’t know how vital it is to be enacted as a state law, but I don’t find it harmful in and of itself. But there’s more.
“That where there is error, I may bring truth–that where there is doubt, I may bring faith–that where there is despair, I may bring hope–that where there are shadows, I may bring light–that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.”
Indiana missed an opportunity this week. We could have done something of which my generation could be proud and then didn’t. Mark my words, the LGBT community will be a protected class in Indiana someday. And this week will be remembered as the the week it should have happened. I have faith. I am filled with it.
My dad gave me my most profound lesson in tolerance and understanding of the gay community in 1985, just before the passing of Rock Hudson. Back then, homophobia was rampant, AIDS had our country scared to death, and I was an ignorant 18 year old kid. My dad caught my laugh at an insensitive Rock Hudson joke, and he stopped me, looked me in the eye and said these five words: “that poor man is dying.” Then he turned and walked away from me in disappointment. I can still see his face and hear his voice from that moment almost thirty years later.
Times have changed in thirty years, and my dad was ahead of his time. His health won’t allow me to talk with him about the events of the last few weeks, and that is a conversation I would enjoy having with him very much. He won’t see Indiana enact a modern civil rights law that protects the gay community from discrimination the way we should. But when we do, I will be thinking of him and the best lesson he ever taught me.
“Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted– to understand, than to be understood–to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.”
I am not a Christian, but I love the Prayer of St. Francis. I’m glad Christians have it, and I am glad they let me borrow it as often as I do. We can have faith in our lives and embrace the freedom of others at the same time. In the American experience, freedom will always ultimately prevail. And history never recalls in a flattering light the things that temporarily kept it from us. It’s true, we could have enhanced our religious freedom AND our civil rights this week. When we finally achieve the latter, we will likely wonder why in the hell we waited.