The Universe sent me a message today. Kristen needed a copy of her resume from her computer. When I opened her IE to send the email, her home page (MSNBC) popped up, and I read that Jerry Falwell had been found unconscious. I followed the story for the next hour, when I read this:
Well, a shortened version, as it was the very first report that he had, in fact, died. I didn't feel sad. But I also didn't feel glad. I just pretty much didn't feel anything. Other than a sense that this is very important news and I should tell people. A few text messages and IM's informed the folks I figured would know who he is and care enough to not to say "So why are you telling me?"
I had a few responses. Jerry. Greg. Linus. Nobody else seemed sad either. Odd that. And then Jess sent me this:
I freely admit I smirked. Then giggled. And I didn't feel guilty about it, either. I also read the first 6 pages of comments about the post. They were interesting, for certain. And it raised the question in my mind: Did it make me a bad person that I found a joke about someone's death amusing, if not funny? Jaded? Bitter? And I didn't have an answer. Surely it's not right to laugh at a person's death. I don't wish pain on him, and even as I write this I hope it was swift and peaceful. I've witnessed an ugly death, and don't have enough hate in my heart to wish that even on Phelps, whom I consider to be one of the most evil and foul people I've ever encountered. I was simple at loss for an answer.
But here's what I do know. I know he claimed the Anti-Christ was a male Jew who was already alive. (He later apologized for the remark...not the belief.) I know at one of the most painful times in our country's history, he had the gaul to call it God's wrath. And to blame "homosexuals and feminists" and "abortionists." For September 11th. (He later apologized. Again...for the remark.) I know queer people who were kicked out of their homes because of his words and actions. Their churches. I know of others who tried to kill themselves. And some who succeeded. I know how much pain he has caused, and some of it is my own.
I admit much of the pain was caused by him only indirectly. He didn't directly tell me to hate myself. But he told people who told people, and they told people, and so on. And someone told my mother. And my Pastor. And most of my teachers. And firends. I truly believe that much of it was unintentional. I do NOT believe that he WANTS us to kill ourselves. I don't believe he WANTS us to be homeless. I don't believe he WANTS us to be beaten. Or murdered. I think he just doesn't want us to BE. At the very least, he wants us to be something other than we are.
All I wanted for you in life was enlightenment, Jerry. My beliefs tell me that you now have that. So I forgive you. Now please do what you can to help us fix it. I'll keep trying too. Peace to you.