I have something a little different for you guys today. I’m a bit apprehensive to share it as I am afraid she is going to completely show me up but my cousin, Mercedes, a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has written a piece that I feel compelled to share. I think she makes some amazing points about something that has bothered me (and I am assuming others as well) for a while. We are bombarded with hateful messages every single day to the point where it’s just considered a part of daily life, but I truly believe it is important to take a step back and think about why we are so hateful. Without further ado, here it is:
When you spend your first 18 years of life in West Omaha, Nebraska, you aren’t exactly exposed to a lot of things. I grew up in a safe upper middle class neighborhood, always had food on my plate (regardless of how picky an eater I was), and slept soundly every night in a warm bed in my own room. From the time I was five until the end of seventh grade I attended a private Catholic school, and went to church anywhere between 2 and 5 times a week. There was one black student in my entire elementary school and a handful of “non-whites” in my middle and high schools. I knew of few gay kids, and one who now happens to be transgendered. Religion never really came up after I left Catholic school, and stayed that way for the remainder of my time as a student. I may only have 21 years of life experience, but if I’ve learned anything in those years its been acceptance. My parents never really talked to me about their thoughts on accepting people who we perceive as different from us, whether that be in age, gender, sexual orientation, race, or religious beliefs. I think this is because things that should be normal, aren’t really ever addressed. I was raised to judge someone based upon their actions, because those are a true indicator of the kind of person they really are. Which as an adult shocks me given the environment I grew up in. Its no secret that the two biggest groups behind making harsh judgments are political parties and Christians. It actually hurts my heart to have to call out my fellow Christians, and the last thing I want to do is make generalizations. So let me rephrase that. Political parties and Misguided Christians. Well lucky for me, Nebraska is full of politically and religiously opinionated people. I cant speak too much about the political side of prejudice because 1. I’m young and much too busy with attempting to be a functioning adult to watch CNN or Fox news all day and 2. Social media is not the place to air all of your political opinions. What I can speak to, as a life long Catholic, is how people are hiding behind my God to be cruel and hateful to other human beings.
We’ve all heard the phrase “God fearing Catholics” and some people are taking that to such an extreme. I remember after the Supreme Court legalized Gay marriage this past summer my Facebook feed was flooded with heartbreaking statuses about how horrendous it was that a government– which as a fun historical reminder, was set up as “separation of church and state”– would pass a law that violated some US citizens’ religious beliefs. Some people quoted things that their pastors had said that weekend, “they won’t be celebrating when they go to hell” or “God is disgusted with America this week”. So I had to mentally prepare myself for what I was going to hear at church that weekend. To my surprise, one of my priests from my parish stood up and said this “I know everyone has different opinions on what has gone on this past week, and I know what the Bible tells us. But here is something I think we all need to remember from time to time, and something that God places at the utmost of importance – we all need to have compassion for one another. Love thy neighbor.” I have never wanted to give a standing ovation more in my life. Too often people who have hurtful things to say justify it because of what their religion says. I don’t think any religion was intended to revolve around hatred and prejudice against others. Just because someone doesn’t believe what you believe – whether that be on marriage equality, use of birth control, the existence of God, divorce, anything for that matter – doesn’t mean you should treat them as any less of a human being. I can’t make any promises, but I’m very sure that the God I have grown up loving isn’t going to strike you down for treating everyone with kindness.
So the next time you feel the need to say something hurtful or post on Facebook about and ongoing issue in the world, ask yourself, “am I expressing kindness or hatred?” and if it’s the latter I strongly encourage you to rethink your use of your right to free speech.