I must confess. I’m not entirely honest. I don’t deceive, not intentionally at least, but I usually know a thing or two more than I let on. It helps me hold onto something, a sliver of control, a ground wire to make sure I don’t shock myself by coming to a dead end. If I don’t have the whole picture, I hide the pieces I have in pursuit of those I need to hold. When it’s all put together, and I meet someone, I don’t enlighten them. They need to come to it on their own, I might say, or it’s better to wait–maybe what I think is whole isn’t whole yet.
It’s not exactly deception. It’s not exactly honesty either.
As many of you may know, there’s been a couple people on campus that have made this semester hell. I mentioned their backstabbing in “Awfully Whetted Strife” where I discussed how my very sense of trust has been injured. In a few words I expressed my rising indignation over the one of them in “The Man Who Lied to My Face.” You don’t need to read those, not unless you want to, but it’s worth knowing how long this has been going on.
Because today it’s going to stop.
Although I hate to admit it, it was only yesterday when I finally got around to reading the essay “I’m Christian, unless you’re gay” by Dan Pearce. In it, Pearce doesn’t talk about being gay, not directly at least, but about how every major religion preaches love and acceptance above all other things, but how every major religion today does its least to actually support these beliefs and spread them to its followers. It was touching, poignant, and it got me thinking–not about being gay, not about being Jewish, but about how hateful I have become this semester.
I like to think I’m not a hateful person. In a private meeting, a staff member told me she can’t imagine there’s an evil bone in me. There isn’t. Well, there aren’t any to be seen–but there are. In spurts of anger, I’ve wished great harm upon weak people, I’ve wished rights away from the innocent merely to make a point. When the amendment passed, rewriting North Carolina’s constitution with codified discrimination, I flatly said, “Let it take away domestic violence protection. Let it strip seniors of their benefits. Let it hurt every God damn one of them. Then they’ll see how wrong they were.” And I meant it.
And I’d love to see these two guys expelled. Stripped of their diplomas and all their leadership roles. Tossed aside without any friends or any support from anyone. And I meant that too.
But is it worth it? Would I really want to see any of that? I can tell myself I want it, I can convince myself they all deserve it, but if it actually happened, I’d hate that it happened more than anything. I don’t want bad things to happen to good people–I don’t want bad things to happen to bad people. Anger and fury and hate are just easier than forgiveness, compassion, and love. Maybe that’s why the amendment passed–because we’ve all been fighting so hard against these forces when fighting only makes them stronger, but coexisting brings them to their knees. It’s a lesson we need to learn. To carry with us on our shoulders until it turns into wings. We’ll win their hearts next time. First we need to salvage what’s left of ours.
This post isn’t about the amendment, though. It’s about these guys at school. They’ve destroyed me–and I don’t even know why. Talking with one former member of the club they hail from, I was told they hate me because I’m too liberal. Talking with another former member, they hate me because I’m Jewish and gay. Talking with peripherals, people who’ve seen them but aren’t in the club, they hate me because I’m successful and they’re not, not as successful at least. Others add that they cause trouble because they’re insecure, because their lives are empty husks, because they’re short and don’t feel manly enough so they compensate in any way they can.
Maybe that’s true. Maybe all of that’s true. But should the reasons change the result? I’ve reached a point in understanding my own identity in which the reason why I’m gay doesn’t matter–all that matters is the fact that I am. It’s who I am. Maybe there’s a reason out there, whether genetics or psychology or whatever, but I’ve decided why doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t the change the state of the present. Why I’m gay doesn’t matter; it only matters that I am. Therefore, why they do what they do doesn’t matter either.
They hate me. They cause trouble. That’s that.
So why has it destroyed me? Why?
This is a why that matters–because knowing this changes the way I react, changes the way I act in the future. I like to think I’ve not got a bad bone in me, and yet they have brought out the worst. Why? I like to think I’m forgiving and give people a second change–and I refuse to extend the same courtesy to them. Why?
I think the first element is trust. I’ve always considered myself a very trusting person, so trusting I’ve been called gullible in the past. I give people the benefit of the doubt. I make excuses why they failed me even though I’m critical on myself about failure. These two, however, these two have made such aggravated attacks that second chances and benefits of the doubts and the very fabric of my sense of trust have been shaken. There’s no way to mend broken bonds of trust. No way at all. They may regrow in time, but they never heal. In breaking the trust I’ve extended to them, they’ve scarred me for the rest of my life. We may never see each other again. We may never remember each other past today. But these scars will remain. I will never be able to trust people the same way again, and that makes me so, so sad. A part of me–a part of what formed my whole–has been cut away, sliced at and chiseled from my chest while I watched and writhed in pain.
How could I forgive them for that?
They’ve also made me hate. Pure, genuine hate. Hate to the point that I’ve confided in friends I’ve never felt so badly about myself–because I don’t believe I’m a hateful person. They’ve hurt me, that’s clear, but I’ve also watched them hurt my friends, my family, seen tears slip from red and puffy eyes because of them. I can defend myself against the things they do to me–but how can I sit idly while they perpetuate these same insults upon others? How could I feel anything toward them but hatred? And I despise that they’ve brought me to this place.
I’ve made it known, in formal writing, some of the things they’ve done. Not all of them–that would take much more than the three pages I restricted myself to. But I’ve filed this complaint, and being that nothing has yet happened, I am almost certain I will need to send it a step higher in the chain. This process has begun and I’m not going to stop it, since as I said in the letter, something must be done, but even as this continues, I can change.
I will not change my mind and withdraw my demand for action. But I can change my heart. Whatever reasons they hate me, whatever reasons they’ve grounded themselves upon to excuse the things they have done, I’m not going to let them control me any longer. I’m not going to let them further chip away at my trust. I’m not going to let them fill me with such hatred I grow weary because of it. I’m simply going to say what I believe, the values I try to uphold, are not these things. I forgive them for what they’ve done. I release them from their hold on me. I relinquish this hatred and this fury. It is no longer a part of me. And I hope–for hope is something I have always held dear–I hope that they may do the same and choose to do what’s right. I haven’t asked for much. Not very much at all. And though I’ll keep pushing for what I believe is the proper conclusion to this assault, today I am finished with it. I hold no more anger, no more disgrace. All that remains is their commitment to do the same.