Thursday, August 06, 2009

Unlikely Partners: Report from the UN, Part Three

I woke up this morning and found a "google alert" notifying me of this screed against sexuality education and a distortion of a statement I made. I can't figure out who the author is from this blog, although I have guesses.

I find it hard to read these type of attacks without my heart racing. My body prepares for the "fight" part of fight or flight, even as I try to remind myself to "love thy enemy." I try to imagine the fear that must motivate this author, that surely we have a shared commitment to the well being of young people, and that maybe if we could actually talk to one another, we might find our shared humanity. And then I wonder if the writer would extend such generosity to me.

Just this week, I lived some of that experience at the meeting at UNFPA of the leaders of diverse faith-based organizations. It was very clear in the introductions that the world views and commitments of people there were very different. It was easy to make pre-judgments as who was an ally, who was likely to be an obstacle. The man who shared he was HIV positive and a minister: ally. The man who said that he was concerned with children's health and that would force him to think about women's heath, not so much. The economist who only saw faith organizations as places to get people into contraceptive and prenatal services - no. The people from the Salvation Army - unlikely. It's easy to turn the world into sheep and goats.

But, the reality was, once again, that everyone has a story and that almost all of these faith leaders have a shared commitment to service to the most marginalized, the poor, the sick and the needy. I found new colleagues in unexpected places, and connections where I hadn't expected them. We were able to agree on shared commitments to addressing HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality, gender-based violence, and the needs of migrant populations. I know that we didn't share common ground on abortion or full inclusion, but there are surely places we can work together for the common good. In the breaks, the lunches, the reception, I had honest, open discussions that created the beginning of relationships and respect.

This is the message of a wonderful new book I'm reading, The Unlikely Disciple, by Brown University senior Kevin Roose. Rather than doing a semester abroad, he chose to do a semester at Liberty College -- the university Rev. Jerry Falwell founded. It's a fascinating and compassionate retelling of his semester with young, devout, evangelical Christians, who by and large agree to purity codes, are homophobic to the extreme, and are taught creationism and the Bible as the literal word of God as scholarly. But it's also the story of their shared humanity and how he comes to love them and they to love him.

So for this day, I'm choosing to offer prayers for those who like the author of the blog choose to distort my work -- and to think instead about the rooms I have been in over the years, like the ones at the UN this week, where I am reminded to be surprised by new allies and possibilities for collaboration. And I'm reminded by the words of the poet, "have compassion for everyone you never know what is going on where the spirit meets the bone."

1 comment:

wdednh said...

As i read your post, I had to ask where did i attack you in my blog ? I don't even know you. I posted an introductery chapter of a new book that was send to me with my thoughts on the subject. And yes i stand for what i said we have kicked God out and have replaced him with all other stuff.
Thank you for visiting my blog!
And by the I am not aginst sexuall teaching all im asking as the book is asking what are teaching our kids today?