29 June 2015

Burning In the Name Of

The air is thick with the stench, the smoke resulting from the explosive clash between love and hate these recent days in the United States of America. There has also been a light, and strong rainbow light streaming out the gaps in the smoke. It's love versus hate, and even a hard-core pessimist such as myself can see that love is winning. But there is a shadow on my heart. Impatience upon the soul to hear some of us talk as they do.

On June 11th, 1963, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc sat down in the middle of a busy Saigon intersection, was doused with gasoline, then his hand struck a match thereby setting himself on fire. The photograph of his burning body, taken by Malcom Browne of the Associated Press, has become one of the most famous mass media images in the history of the modern world. He did it to protest the oppression of Buddhists under the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem. He felt it was a necessary act to bring effective attention to persecution.

On June 23rd, 2014, the retired Methodist minister Charles Moore knelt down in the parking lot of a strip mall in Grand Saline TX, doused himself with gasoline then set himself on fire. Bystanders put the flames out but the pastor did not survive, dying later that night in a hospital. There are no photographs of the event of which I know. The Reverend Moore had a lifetime history of advocating for social justice, particularly to rid society of racism and the hatred of gays, lesbians and transgender folks. He felt it was necessary to inspire action for social justice.

On June 16th, 2015, the irrationally anti-gay pastor Rick Scarborough, indicated that he and his followers would 'burn' if the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage equality. He also made remarks indicating that leaders in the anti-gay marriage movement need to get out front and proclaim "Shoot me first!" to protest what they see as godlessness and the destruction of our nation.

Early in 2015, the would-be GOP presidential nominee and delusional charlatan Mike Huckabee stated in a video that he will "Call down fire from heaven" in defense of traditional Christian morals, to stand up against gay rights supporters and those who advocate for marriage equality.

On June 26th, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to deny the right of marriage to LGBT persons, thereby rendering it possible for those folks to get married just like straight Christians get to do.

On June 27th, Rick Scarborough backtracked on his statements, saying he didn't really mean it. Mike Huckabee apparently cannot get through to God, because the skies have been remarkably free of flames or even a little bit of smoke.

For many years it seems, there has been an abundance of fire on the minds of those who proclaim strong moral, ethical or religious convictions. The main difference that has emerged is that those with love in their hearts were so moved by that power that they translated it into action. Those with hatred in their hearts, people like Rick Scarborough and Mike Huckabee, will never translate the power of that hate in such a way because for all their proclamations of being people of true conviction, they are really just mean-spirited cowards with big mouths.

Hate has nothing over love, not in the long run and the big picture. Love inspires truth, hate runs from it. They run. They are cowards. They will never set themselves on fire because they do not hold love in their hearts. Outside observers such as you and I may look at the actions of Quang Duc and Charles Moore and think them to be insane, but I believe that ultimately they set themselves on fire because they had more love than they knew what to do with in the material world.

The Rick Scarboroughs and Mike Huckabees of the world know deep down they will never set themselves on fire. They are so mean, so spiritually myopic, they do not see how the decent human beings they could have been have been corrupted by hate. Hate has its own rotten heart on which it gnaws, all the while pretending to feast as the soul crumbles. Love exponentially magnifies itself when unleashed. Love has courage and conviction of which hate can only dream.

Love burns.