Thursday, September 9, 2010

Erase Hate

If you have not read The Meaning of Matthew by Judy Shepard, go out and get it and read it. I'll wait.

(Bring a box of tissues.)

The Meaning of Matthew is written by the mom of a man who was murdered because he was gay. It tells Matthew's story, and makes him more than a victim of a hate crime; it makes him a person. It tells of his murder, the time he spent in a coma, his death, the nationwide reaction, and the trials of his two murderers. It is a deeply touching, personal story.

It is very true and honest and open. It does not make Matthew out to be a saint, it makes him a human. It is a wonderful story that makes no effort to mask a mother's grief, yet also talks about how she makes it through. And the most amazing thing is that the family managed to get one good thing out of their son's murder.

They created the Matthew Shepard Foundation. It started when people who had heard about Matthew's murder sent the family money. They used it to create a foundation whose goals are to "erase hate, ensure equality, and put youth first". They team with the Human Rights Campaign as well as other organizations with similar goals.

Reading this book yesterday and this morning actually ties in perfectly with something I've been wanting to say. I didn't know quite how to say it, or whether it would even be worth it, with so many other people saying the same thing. (And now the President.)

But I think it is important to show the church in Florida that intends to burn the Koran (full story here) that it isn't only government officials that don't agree with what they want to do. It is "regular" people like me, who find the act of burning the holy book of any religion or group despicable. The fact that it is Islam's holy book makes the possible ramifications much larger and much more severe.

Countless people from the UN, the US government, Afghanistan, and elsewhere have spoken out strongly against the church and their intent. It puts soldiers' lives at risk who are in Islamic countries, and it will also give the Taliban propoganda to use against the US and to recruit new followers who will be taught that hate and violence are acceptable.

This is morally and ethically wrong, as well as wrong because of the huge and potentially catastrophic consequences for soldiers in the Middle East, attempts to eliminate the Taliban, and relations between the US and Islamic countries, which are already strained, at best.

I was moved by Judy's story, and it encouraged me to speak out against hate. Their message is, in many ways, a simple message.

Strive to have no hate in the world. Work for equality for all people, no matter their sex, race, language, age, medical condition, sexual orientation, faith or belief.

So think about your actions, and how they may be perceived by others. Strive to make your world hate free, so that someday, hopefully soon, our world will be hate free.

No comments: