After reading the Tri-County News last week there were two submissions that really stood out to me and I felt compelled to address them.
One was a “Jeers” regarding the Calumet County Democrats handing out gay and transgender pride flags in their booth at the Calumet County Fair and the other was a letter to the editor regarding the words “in God we trust” being made our country‘s national motto 65 years ago. I’m not sure why the person who submitted the jeers regarding the flags did so but in response to him, my answer is short and simple—the flags were handed out because representation matters. If those flags made even one LGBTQIA+ fair-goer smile because they felt seen, then they were exactly the right takeaway from the booth.
I am making a slight assumption that both of these submissions ultimately had to do with religion. I was born and raised in our rural Wisconsin area so I am well aware of the large number of religious people here. I was raised Missouri Synod Lutheran and spent a lot of time at church in my first 18 years of life. I am now 40 years old and have lived back in my hometown for the past seven years. I went away to college and lived in a few bigger cities in the 15 years I was away from New Holstein. Having the privilege to experience many different kinds of people from all walks of life is not the only reason I have become more open-minded, while it is a big part of the reason. The bigger reason I believe I have a more open heart and mind is directly because of my mom. No matter what the sermon was about on Sunday, my mom would make sure to talk to me about that message and put her own inclusive, loving spin on things. She made sure to tell me that it’s not my job to judge someone else, as there is no way we can know exactly what’s in another person’s heart. My personal code that I live by now is that when someone tells me who they are, I believe them. I trust that they are trying to live their most authentic life, which I believe is every human’s right—as well as an immense responsibility. If we all try to live our most authentic lives, listening to our most inner selves and letting our hearts guide our life’s direction, I believe we love ourselves more. And when we truly love who we are and are working toward our greater purpose for being on this earth at this particular time, we have more love to give to other people. And we all need more love. Humanity as a whole needs more love.
There is so much judgment cast upon our fellow humans, particularly in our local communities, and the stones being thrown at others have real—and painful—consequences. People are hurting. This starts in middle school—years that are hard enough even on the least vulnerable kids. Imagine having your classmates weaponized by their parents and their churches, coming to school and going on social media, making your life extra hellish for simply being yourself. In my years since growing up in our small town, I have come to realize that people are born who they are and this includes, but is not limited to, who they love. I don’t know about you, but I do not remember deciding for myself which gender I was attracted to. My heart skipped a beat and my stomach did that flip flop thing when I had my first crush on a boy in my class in grade school. I remember that time vividly; maybe you do too.
What I’m trying to get at is maybe we all just need to listen to each other more than we talk, and realize that telling someone who they love is a sin and is wrong is the same thing as telling them that they are wrong. That fundamentally who they are is wrong. Saying that you know better than they do what their sex/gender is
nd forcing them to play a role for their whole life rather than being allowed to be their true self, whatever that may be. Even if you don’t quite understand it. Have you ever considered maybe you don’t have to understand it? Maybe it’s enough to simply accept a person and continue on with your day? If your religion is teaching you that it’s OK to make someone else feel wrong and sad for who they are, who they were born to be, maybe it’s time to find a new religion—or possibly none at all. If you consider yourself a Christian, please keep in mind that Christ himself was the embodiment of God’s love. God is love, according to the Bible that you use as a weapon to hurt others. And if God is love, the best way to be His messenger, in my humble opinion, is to be love. Free yourself from the idea that you are tasked with the enormous responsibility of saving everyone else’s souls. And that you alone know the only way to salvation because it was taught to you once a week since you were born. Spend more time working on the state of your own soul and your own heart. What if your whole life is a test to see how many people you can make feel loved in your lifetime? What if using your religion as a weapon to hurt and control people is the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to be accomplishing during your time here? Mahatma Gandhi said it best when he said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”