Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Transforming Power of Kindness (Joshua 2:12)

Well, week two of the blog has been much less post-filled than week one. Explanation: I'm also a regular college-guy and this week was insanely filled with papers and projects and finals-preparation, etc. Anyway...

A long time ago the Children of Israel, under the leadership of Joshua, were marching towards their promised land. Along the way they had to face the walled city of Jericho. Joshua sent spies ahead to scope it out, and they meet a harlot named Rahab, a woman who's religious views and lifestyle really had very little in common with the Israelite spies. She had lots of reasons to reject them, and they had lots of reasons to condemn her, but instead something wonderful happened. Rahab shows kindness to the Israelites, and displays love instead of hate. In return she asks just one thing; from Joshua chapter 2, verse 12:

"Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house."

She shows them kindness, and only wants kindness in return... and the Israelites oblige. They promise safety to her and her family. Sure enough, when those walls famously come a-tumblin' down, Rahab and her family are unharmed. This story demonstrates the principle I talked about in my last post ("Love thy Neighbor"): the idea that we will not end ignorance and hate with equal ignorance and hate, but with love. The one willing to show kindness first has a greater power to influence their fellows than all the hate of the world. It is a true principle that I had the fortune of seeing really work this past week. Let me tell you about it:

I've mentioned earlier in this blog the respect I have for another LDS man with same-sex attraction who writes a blog called (Gay) Mormon Guy that I absolutely love (and which helped inspire this blog). I have never met (G)MG, but our anonymous gay Mormon blogger selves have an email correspondance we keep up. I asked him how he thought it was best to help get our message out there to make a difference. He had several keen insights he shared with me, among them the idea of commenting on gay life articles in the Huffington Post. Honestly, that idea did not appeal to me whatsoever, especially because I don't enjoy plunging into never-ending political arguments. I don't want to have to drag politics onto my blog either (though I'll have to do a little on this post). I'm pretty moderate politically--which doesn't mean I'm not passionate about some of my views. I'm just my own unique blend of conservative and liberal views, generally leanin a different direction on each issue. But I hate to argue about it, because it stresses me out, so I've learned to stop getting involved in political discussions.

Nonetheless, my blog cannot completely avoid the subject, and I do truly want to get my message out there, so I took (G)MG's advice. I commented on 6 different articles related to gay issues this week on the Huffington post. As a result, my site hits really did surge! One of the articles I commented on was even a highly political one, and that is where my own Rahab story unfolded. Now, obviously I don't want to drag the politics of the article over here, but I do need to give you a little bit about the article for background's sake. The article discussed Rick Perry's condemnation of Obama and Hillary Clinton's comments on World AIDS day regarding the need for more international attention to hate crimes against the LGBT community. Perry said that people of faith would be insulted by that message. There was more to it than that, but I'm sure you can look into it yourselves.

While I'm not really a fan of any of the politicians mentioned here, in this case I had to at least side more with Hillary Clinton's comments than Rick Perry's, as she said some things very similar to my last blog post, which I had written earlier that same day. So, I posted the following comment on the article:

Be sure, I am not trying to endorse the Obama administration or tear down the Perry candidacy here. I was really just trying to draw attention to my own views on the subject, thus why I included the blog link at the bottom of my post (and LOTS of people clicked on it). It didn't take long for me to get some replies posted to my comment. I won't print the first one, as it was a very crudely-worded and counter-productive attack on my faith and on me personally. However, I'll post the second comment generated and the brief converstation which ensued. (Just be aware that when I mention "the other comment" I'm referring to the filthier one I chose not to reprint here). Watch what happens:

(You can click to make it bigger if you can't read it)

See what happened? She initially starts to throw some disapproval at me just because I didn't want to be harder on Perry! In responding, I chose to keep my cool and then the kindness was reciprocated! If I had responded snappily or angrily, it would have undermined my entire message, and none of us would have gotten anywhere. If you ever read comment threads after political articles online, I ask: how often do you see people change their minds in those threads because of someone else's comments? Practically never! All the mean things said usually just cause people to entrench themselves deeper in their own opinions. But when kindness is shown, Rahabs and Israelites can agree, minds are changed as ignorance is replaced with understanding, and hate is replaced with love. Fantastic, eh? Now, I have to take my hat off to this abscs2000 character, since not everyone who is approached with love gets the message and responds accordingly, but she did and it made my day!

So, friends, soldier on! Keep building bridges with kindness and love. It really does work! :) And comment on Huffington Post articles--apparently that works too! (Thanks, (G)MG!)

My Best,


1 comment:

  1. Well done. I love how you diffused any hostility by responding with a measured, thoughtful, patient response. Not easy to do by a long shot, and yet I agree with you that that is the best way to encourage constructive, empathetic dialogue. Way to go!


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