You will know the truth and the truth will set you free – John 8:32
Looking back at my childhood, I don’t think I had one different than any of my Croatian-Australian friends. Went to a Catholic school for 13 years, then onto university, went to mass every Sunday and feast day, went to Croatian school every Wednesday night, went to the Croatian disco at King Tom on the occasional Friday (when studying allowed). My parents were strict, my father in particular, who believed in the “spare the rod, spoil the child” theory. My mum cooked chicken soup and roast chicken with potatoes every Sunday. My dad enjoyed chess. Both were very blue collared. Nothing spectacular or out of the norm.
And yet, when I look at myself I feel that I was and am a bit out of the norm. I enjoyed playing with boys more when I was younger rather than girls (flick cards, football). When our teacher gave us something to read for English Lit class, if I enjoyed the author I would go out and find everything they had written and read their whole opus. I liked looking at clouds. I didn’t like mainstream music. I worried about the environment, world hunger, injustice. As soon as I could vote I always voted Labour rather than Liberal even though I was breaking an unwritten rule – if you’re Croatian, you vote Liberal (oddly enough, despite the name, the Liberal party in Australia is conservative…). I was always for gay rights and had many gay friends.
W how! Hold on a minute, you say. You were brought up Catholic and was for gay rights? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms? I would say, no. And I think I have every right to say that, having studied the bible on a daily basis for 13 years plus. Because Jesus was a guy who hung out with the underdogs of society – the prostitutes, the lepers, the tax collectors, children. This was a guy who said “love each other as I have loved you”. This was a guy who overturned tables and drove cows, sheep, whatever out of the temple when he saw the market there. Who when the authorities wanted to stone an adulteress said “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” At the end of the day, this was a man who was hung on a cross because he was different and stuck to his beliefs to the bitter end…
And I ask myself, when people instigate petitions against commonplace rights for part of the population in the name of Christ, what would Jesus say? What would he say about “good Catholic” boys bashing anyone with any semblance of being different on a Friday or Saturday night? What would he say about refusing to give orphan children to a good, loving, gay couple and instead keep them in an orphanage? What would he say to people using his name to fuel hate? My theory, given the amount of time I studied the bible, is that he would probably turn over a table or two…
And then I think, yes, this is one part of puzzle, but what about all those other pieces, pieces that aren’t on the front pages of our daily newspapers, the stories that don’t really sell that well – world hunger, child labour, domestic violence, environmental issues, war, pedophilia (even within “his” church!), homelessness…the list goes on and on and on… What would he say to all that? I think he’d hang his head and cry…
And then I think on: Mary, why get caught up in something that doesn’t directly affect you? Why the hell are you worrying about it all when you can’t change anything? You can’t make a difference, can you?!? But in my heart of hearts, I believe that I can make a difference. We all can. My kids call me a hippy and roll their eyes, but I truly believe in the power of ideas and thoughts. I believe that thoughts become deeds. I believe that if we sow love and understanding they will grow. Or as “Free your kids” put it in discussing war:
What can I do? Well, two things, I think.
First, I can discuss my ideas with others. I completely disagree that participating in internet debates is doing “nothing.” Talking to people, either in person or on-line, is one of the most effective tools available to express dissent. Ideas are the most powerful force in the world. An idea cannot be killed. It can be shared effortlessly, spreading like wildfire. Indeed, persuading others with the free exchange of ideas and thoughts is one of the surest ways to promote change. As someone wiser than I once said, “No army can stop an idea whose time has come.”
The second thing I (you, as well) can do is this: I can choose to raise my children peacefully. I firmly believe that children who are raised free of aggression and coercion will carry those values into their adult lives. They will abhor violence. They will shun those who practice it. They will not speak that language. Their morality will not condone the use of force against anyone. They will only speak the language of love, cooperation, and voluntary association.