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Somewhere After The Rainbow

Originally published on johnpavlovitz.com

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Marriage finally came down last week—and both Hell and Heaven broke loose, depending on your perspective.

Exhilaration soon followed for those seeing this as a long overdue victory for civil marital equality, while outrage reigned for religious folks believing it to be the final nail in the coffin of Biblical Matrimony.

And there was of course, a flurry of sentiments from both sides on social media; effusive celebration and grief-laden hand wringing flying in as fast as your browser could refresh.

Yet nothing in all of those eloquent words from either side spoke as clearly and loudly as the brilliant prismatic display of love and affirmation found in the rainbow profile photos now dominating timelines worldwide. That’s been the most visible, most revelatory element of the past week, with over 26 million people already choosing to “Amen” the Supreme Court’s decision using their own images.

Perhaps the most telling aspect is that these multicolored flags haven’t just been flown by the LGBT community but by family members, friends, allies, and by people from all walks of life and all faith traditions, many emboldened by the SCOTUS and finally feeling consent to come out publicly in support.

The question for all of those whose spectrum-spanning photos have made this bold opening statement is: What now?

Now that the knee-jerk responses from opposite poles have come, how do we move forward; respectfully, lovingly, productively with those who feel differently?

How do we who find the inherent value of all people reflected this week, not a denial of our faith but a declaration of it, respond when that very faith is questioned?

How do we acknowledge and affirm the sacred worth of our detractors? This has always been what has distinguished those whose religion was authentic and not merely spiritual window dressing.

The path ahead will be difficult and painful.

Whenever there is social change, there will always be a group who dig in their heels; who more loudly, more violently, more vehemently resist it. This is certainly on display now. And yet it is into this frantic, passionate, very desperate fear, that we who seek dialogue and progress are called to move toward.

What does the olive branch look like for us?

How can we make a tenuous peace with those who still use war rhetoric?

Whatever it is and however we do it, it has to be bigger than a profile photo. It will require far more than 140 characters; more than a clever meme or a well-written blog or the most carefully worded status update.

What happens now needs to happen person-to-person, eye-to-eye, in real-time, across a table. Laws and amendments and judicial rulings can change policy, but only relationships can alter people. And that’s really what we’re talking about here: individually renovated hearts.

It is a hand-crafted treaty made between two people who seek to bridge the gap between them.

I know for many of my LGBT friends and those who love them, this is asking a great deal. It is asking you to expose yourselves to further potential damage and ridicule and rejection, and you’ve certainly had more than your fair share of this. But there’s no other way to true equality than through the jagged, rugged stones of personal prejudice and into the soft places we all keep well-guarded.

So I’m inviting those with rainbow profile photos (and those who echo their sentiments) to engage those of differing opinions, who are willing to have a conversation; not a public, passive-aggressive volleying of Scripture quotes and personal jabs and article shares, but an honest, open, fully vulnerable exchange.

That’s the only way we move forward from here, the only way we can fashion something deeper and more lasting and more worthy of co-owning.

And for those who feel angry or hurt or who have great disagreements with the events of the past week, I invite you do the same; to set aside issues and ideologies, and to seek out flesh and blood people who don’t share your views but who are willing to share space and a meal with you. Be listeners. Be learners.

Depending on our faith perspective, we all are charged with finding the humanity and the Divinity uniquely reflected in each person we cross paths with, and responding in love. Regardless of what the effect of the last few days have been on us, we will be more personally defined and our nation more directly shaped by what we all do next.

Choose well.


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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3 comments

  1. But that’s just it – the problem. How do you have a civilized conversation with someone that fears analysing and tearing the bible apart as par na mortal sin against God?
    Even with multiple PhD, that bible rules over common sense which leaves you wondering why God would bless one with an analytical mind that applies to everything but the Bible.
    I don’t even bother these days and I walk away swiftly from such situations. Find someone else to convert to Christianity so you can gloat over your achievement in Sunday Mass.

  2. One problem of having religious discussions with people is that almost everyone sticks to whatever indoctrination they had while growing. Most times, common sense takes a backseat & people stick to whatever version they know.

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