Friday, June 17, 2016

Love And Compassion Are Necessities, Not Luxuries

Sigh…  Another senseless massacre in Orlando with the shooting at a gay nightclub killing fifty people and injuring countless others by a homophobic lost human being...a being that was filled with so much hate towards another group of people because of fear.  (Hate is a byproduct of fear.)  With easy access to guns, he slaughtered a group of beautiful souls. 

What’s even more sad is the number of people who are celebrating these deaths just because they were gay.  Many Christian preachers are even celebrating and some were actually telling people to go out and kill those in the LGBT communities.  And that’s even sadder.  This is not the Christianity that I believe in!

I used to be homophobic.  I believed that gays were going to hell because that’s what my religion taught me…until I learned otherwise.  I’ve told this story before, but I’m going to tell it again.  In 1980 while living in California, I was in my ‘if you don’t believe the way I do, then you’re going to hell’ belief system.  However, sometimes Spirit gives me that loving, yet firm smack on the back of my head to get my attention, and boy, did Spirit get my attention!

I had gone to a Hungarian dance with a friend of mine, and when we got there, I saw a tall person standing in the circle of dancers.  My friend told me that this person was a transsexual.  I was horrified and commented, “That thing isn’t even human!”  So we left.  To this day, it pains me that I could say something so mean and hateful towards another human being. 

Later, I had gone to the Hollywood bookstore, got into a conversation with the store clerk, and he began to tell me his story.  He was a man, became a woman, and was in the process of becoming a man again.  He had been put under too much pressure by a religion to believe that he was committing a horrible sin by doing so; therefore, he gave up his truth and relented.  Then a guy I knew walked in with a woman, and while in conversation, I learned her story.  She was a man, became a woman, and because of the pressure of religion, was going to become a man again.  Here I am freaking out being in a room with two freaks, trying to find a way to escape, when my friend suggested we all hold hands and pray.  So here I am holding hands with a freak on each side of me, while I’m freaking out, and then I got that loving spiritual smack on the back of my head.  I heard the words just as clearly as if someone spoke them.  “Karen, these too are my children and I love them just as much as all my children.”   I didn’t change my beliefs right there and then, but a seed was planted.

When I moved back home to Indiana, I started reading Shirley MacLaine’s books, and the greatest thing she taught me was to keep an open mind in ALL things.  It was then that I began my adventure on a serious spiritual journey.

When I moved to Nashville in 1992 to pursue an acting and dancing career, I began meeting people who were gay.  I found them to be wonderful people and many became my friends.  When I moved to Cookeville, I met more gays and acquired more amazing friendships.  I even met and have become friends with a few transgenders.  I overcame my fear of a group of people who may have been different than me, but I opened my heart and have been blessed because of it.

When Jesus said his greatest commandment over all others was to love one another, he wasn’t kidding around.  He made no exceptions, and I have taken that commandment to heart and try to live it.  It’s not always easy.  I have to watch my thoughts when I find myself hating the haters, but I know that they are living in fear just like I had been before I learned otherwise.

My heart and soul goes out to the victims and their family and friends of this horrific tragedy.  Whether we’re Christians or of another faith (or none), the best thing we can do is show compassion as our Spiritual Masters taught us.  This could easily have been a large church or anywhere else.  These were our sisters and brothers and when something horrible happens to anyone, it happens to all of us.

The Dalai Lama said, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.  Without them, humanity cannot survive.”  And Buddha stated, “If you truly loved yourself, you could never hurt another.”  Magnificent words to live by! 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 17, 2016.

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