I do it how I know how -- Through Christ
April 29, 2013 was a big day for a lot of people who are in or support the LGBT community. NBA player Jason Collins became the first active player in one of the four major American team sports to publicly come out as gay.
It was hard news to miss, because for a lot of people it was a big deal, and I think that’s the right reaction. Also, some people have gone the route of audibly wondering what the big deal is. I think, to an extent, that’s an ok reaction, too.
As a Christian, I follow a lot of people on Twitter whom I believe will tend to think the way I do about a lot of things. As far as the Jason Collins story is concerned, however, I think a majority missed the mark, and they missed it quite badly.
I’m not here to bash anybody, but I am here to set my own record straight for two reasons: I think they’re wrong, and the world needs to at least be presented what I think the right reaction is, and secondly, I’m sick of being lumped in with them in circumstances like these.
Yesterday I applauded Jason Collins for being able to publicly come out as gay. I don’t view it as a social or cultural triumph, though. It wasn’t. It was a man dealing with a personal struggle in the public realm. That’s the standard for professional sports in America. Athletes deal with private details while squinting at the glare of the public spotlight all the time.
A lot of Americans now view Collins as a hero. I don’t know him, so I can’t say, but what he did required a certain kind of bravery, and it’s for that which I applaud. This is where I have a problem with other Christians. They reacted by attacking the language used to describe Collins.
They said, “He’s not brave, SOLDIERS are what bravery is, not him!”
Ugh… Yes soldiers are brave. Soldiers are brave, because they risk life and limb to protect us and our freedoms. I 100% agree that soldiers are brave. With that being said, there are many forms of bravery. I personally think bravery is doing the right thing in the face of danger or harm. My definition is pretty broad, and I like it that way, because I like to think that all 7 billion of us could choose to be brave everyday of our lives, even if it’s not dodging enemy gunfire. Bravery should be a trait of all of us, not just war heroes.
Collins displayed bravery, because of the repercussions that follow announcing you’re gay. There will now be certain sects and groups of people in the world who will automatically judge, hate and scorn Collins immediately because he’s gay. If he stays quiet, then nobody knows, and nobody can openly hate him for being gay. That would be the easy way to live. With people unassuming, and people accepting you, even if they don’t know your secret. Lots of Christians would not publicly admit to something about themselves if it meant that large swaths of people would now be predisposed to hate them. When you consider the teachings of Christ, the irony of this is so overwhelming.
That bravery however, isn’t my favorite part of Collins announcing he’s gay. The best part about this is that there are people OLDER than Collins, the same age as Collins and people a whole bunch younger than him who have most undoubtedly felt a weight lifted off of them. Statistically speaking, Collins sucked in the NBA recently. He’s not LeBron James, but he’s there. He’s in The Association. He’s in a class of extremely elite athletes. He made lots of money, he got pampered and loved for being on the team and he is someone that somebody somewhere would have loved to be. So, in essence, he’s a stupendous athlete of at least moderate fame.
That’s why it’s a big deal. There is a 12 year old who is going through whatever it is that men go through when they find out or know they’re gay at 12 years old. I don’t know. But that little dude probably went outside and shot some hoops thinking to himself that it’s ok to dream of a life where he doesn’t have to live in fear. I don’t want to get too assumptive about other people, but if there’s even one kid, young adult or senior citizen who saw a professional athlete be accepted by America for being gay, well then, for me, that’s what I like the most.
Collins may have broken the chains that an anti-gay America has wrapped around the souls of the LGBT community. I hope so. I don’t know why people are gay. I doubt it’s a choice, but I’d wager that sexuality is malleable.
Maybe I’m wrong, but my point is that it doesn’t matter if it’s a choice, genetics or was altered in some way. How they got there isn’t the debate when it comes to Collins. It’s about treating people right, affording people the opportunity to chase their dreams regardless of how they ended up the way they are and as a Christian, it’s about loving everybody the way Jesus commanded us to. Jesus spoke in no uncertain terms when it came to loving people. It wasn’t with a parable that the meaning of could be debated or twisted. It was a command. I dunno about y’all, but when what I believe to be the Savior of the World commands me to do something, then I’m going to try really hard. That’s the point.
I don’t care if you’re gay. So I get it when people said, “Who cares if he’s gay?” But I hope I answered why it’s important to at least some individuals out there. It may mean nothing to you, but it may be someone else’s entire existence. And the reason a little kid may be living his entire life in fear and uncertainty is because, instead of loving everyone regardless of who they are, we’ve done the opposite and built a wall between us. Screw that. Tear down the barriers of ignorance, hate and oppression. Why do Christians let our own perceptions, definitions and interpretations prevent us from doing what Jesus explicitly said? Love others. Especially if you disagree with them.
In the past few days the United States and, ultimately, humanity at its core, have been challenged by tragedy.
There were two bombs detonated at the Boston Marathon. Through this trial we’ve been afforded an opportunity to forge a new standard. We can either let this event pass us by, or we can stride forward under a ubiquitous banner of love.
In today’s world we tend to overhype and hyperbolize things. If an event is slightly out of the ordinary it is “epic” or it is “amazing”. I don’t want to label the past week as anything that it isn’t, so I’ll stay away from those words. We won’t truly know the weight of these events until they are deep within the annals of history. For a lot of Americans, they will never be forgotten, and that’s how it should be.
I feel like I need to be explicit with this next paragraph:
I’m not going to tell you how you should think, feel or what you should do. I’m not going to lecture you into guilt. My aim is to fly as straight as an arrow towards my target, and my target is to provide an alternate perspective as we move forward from these events.
The alternate perspective is love. For the majority of us, love is not a default program setting in our souls. It’s a choice, and that’s how it should be, because it should be a conscious decision to love. That’s what makes it beautiful.
My mantra, my creed, my axiom is, “Faith, Hope and Love.” That’s what I strive to live by everyday, and believe me, more often than not, it’s an uphill battle. It’s a choice. I fail everyday, multiple times per day, but I renew it every morning. I think humanity as a whole, America in this specific reference, needs to adopt a similar stance for all 365 days of the year.
In the chaos immediately after the bombings at the Boston Marathon, you could see individuals choosing to love. The willful sacrifice of the first responders, the runners who literally went the extra mile to donate blood and the list of Bostonians who gave up their homes, food and privacy to shelter those who had been displaced. That’s love in action. And it unfolded on live tv and on social media.
As I scrolled through my timeline on twitter and watched the news on tv, I noticed there were countless horrifying images and stories that depicted fear, death and hopelessness coming straight at me in real time. Evil swarmed in a steady stream like a dam had been broken.
But, for every time my heart ached in response to the news, my heart also fluttered at the sight of the indomitable human spirit. It was a heavyweight fight, a classic. Love vs Hate in round infinity. Hate thought it had scored the knockout blow, but Love stood up, and came out like a raging bull. They traded haymakers all afternoon.
The next morning, some of us stopped fighting. Snarky messages on the internet, partisan politicking and the regression to the mundane. April 15, 2013 humanity defended itself against the almighty weight of evil. April 15, 2013 humanity prevailed and was the only one standing when the smoke cleared. April 16, 2013 humanity reverted back into apathy. Love was forced to subside, because its host, the only thing that can perpetuate love, had chosen impassivity.
Why do we wait until our backs are against the wall? Why do we allow evil to land the first blow? Why do we keep love hidden within its sheath? Instead of using love as a defense mechanism, why don’t we preemptively wield our most powerful ally? I think we’d be surprised, if we used love before allowing evil to strike, that there would be no war at all.
Love doesn’t have to be a grand gesture of offering your home to a stranger, or running into a warzone. I believe that love is a simple action. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 will explain love if you are curious. Sometimes, all love is, is not being a jerk. Sometimes, it’s helping a neighbor instead of walking straight by. Sometimes, love is being there for a friend who is in need. Love is always patient, it is always kind and it is always selfless. You are not loving someone if you are acting for personal gain. Love needs no recognition, and it needs no praise or award. Love will forgo credit for the sake of love.
I pray that humanity will not wait for tragedy to strike again before it unleashes its great equalizer. Add up the energy of all the suns and you will not have found a fraction of love’s potential energy. We all wield this immense power, and we don’t need another’s permission to vanquish hate and evil.
Life is a precious gift. In my 20 years I’ve learned that my love stays with people longer than my dispassion. I’ve even seen my love for others miraculously heal their scars of hate and evil. Humanity will be afforded time to choose between hate, silence and love. I don’t know how much, but it seems we always have one more chance to do right by each other. We should seize one of these opportunities to discover our potential for love. We have seen humanity’s potential for hate and evil. Let us stop taking our precious gift for granted.
At the rate we’re going, we will one day wake up and despise ourselves for what we see in the mirror. There is blood on my hands, because I have not yet done enough to stem the tide of apathy that has slowly settled in our souls like smoke lingering with no breeze to force it out. I will die attempting to break these chains.
Our freedom is in our love for one another.
- Connor Cape, April 17, 2013
It’s crazy to think that we all live together in one gigantic universe. We’re all connected by where we are, and the molecules that keep us intact. Every single day of my life I pass an inestimable number of strangers who live in the same universe I do. Not to mention, we all live on the same planet, which, in the grand scheme of things, is the size of a neutrino.
So, we’re all living here in this densely populated infinitesimally small area called earth. Every human being is right here. It’s not like we’re living in a galaxy far, far away where space travel is an afterthought. We’re stuck. We’re trapped. Earth isn’t our home, it’s our cage.
Personally, I don’t think that’s an accident; but even if the universe mistakenly placed all life in one little speck, why do we pretend like we’re not all stuck and trapped in our cage together? Why do we walk right past people who are, at the most basic level, in the same position we are? Throw out all of humanity’s standards: money, cars, houses and whatever else we use to group people. At our most primitive levels, we are all humans hurtling through space at 18.5 miles per second. That’s it. Doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor.
So why are we pretending like we’re not all exactly the same? I’m guilty of this every day of my life. I act like my universe is the only one that matters. Everybody else is a stranger. I don’t know them, and they’re living in their own world. Except, they’re not. We’re all living in the same one. We’re not very good at self-awareness, or else we’d realize that we’re all equals.
Basically, we’re all in the same boat that is lost in an endless ocean. We’re all prisoners of the boat.
Oh, there are plenty, but I dunno all their names. Probably once a week I run into somebody who takes my breath away.
I definitely do. There are a lot. Lucy Hale, Selena Gomez, Chelsea Ricketts, Jennifer Lawrence, and Cassidy Hubbarth probably my number one… To me, there’s a difference between being attractive and really attracting my eye. All those women make me wanna stare. In a polite way.
I don’t have one. I’d like one, sure. And no, I don’t like anybody at the moment. My standards are really high. Top 5 women would be my mom and both grandmas and that’s it. That’s all I need.