Love thy neighbor
“Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” —Martin Niemöller
There are those who find fault in others and choose to voice it with insults and accusations. And there are those who go a step further by thinking violence is the solution. It feels as if it has become an increasing problem through social media and 24/7 news reporting. The behavior exhibited from the top of the political food chain on down is disturbing to witness as groups of people are criticized, mocked and blamed for the actions of a few.
I am a gay male – does that make me a pedophile? I am a musician – does that make me a drug addict? I am an artist – does that make me lack common sense? We are all individuals and if we have to be judged, then we should be judged individually on our own merits or faults. It should not be assumed that one person’s actions defines the actions of all.
In Nashville we have just held a special election for a new mayor. And while there were numerous candidates to choose from, there was one that stood out to me for all of the wrong reasons. Controversial in her take on racial profiling (for), Islam religion (against) and the one stance that hit close to home for me summed up in her quote: “If we must live side-by-side with gay couples in a culture with a strong crusading homosexual agenda, our only hope is to strengthen ourselves spiritually and intellectually for the battle that awaits us.”
It was alarming to see the overwhelming number of red yard signs proudly displayed near my home and place of business supporting her. Each sign represented to me someone who, if they agreed with her agenda, would therefore not approve of me and/or might wish me harm.
I am relieved that this candidate came in a distant second place but still, I won’t forget, as I pass by the stately homes now knowing that the families inside supported a woman who proudly voiced condemnation for those in our community.
One of our local weekly papers has a section titled Ticked Off where people can anonymously voice their complaints. There are some that I might agree with, a few that leave me baffled but it’s the ones who spout hatred for others that concern me. Again, it’s a wakeup call realizing that in our city are those who have these misguided and bigoted feelings toward our fellow man.
Maybe it’s good that we know what our neighbors think regardless of how much it may hurt. Because knowing allows us to possibly change their minds through our actions – our example of loving one another even though we may not always agree.
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” —Mark 12:32
J. Ronald M. York, author of Kept in the Dark, is also an accomplished musician and founder of York & Friends Fine Art Gallery.
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