Monday, February 1, 2016

The Round Table Discussion

Thailand
I found myself in a very interesting place today.  My normal work day was interrupted with a "round table discussion."  The notices started coming to my inbox a few weeks ago.  I only took a glance and didn't consider attending because, I'm just a spouse, working in housing, not really doing anything of great importance.  Then my husband messaged and told me he needed to go and I thought "Why not?  I'll listen to the discussion and it will push me to think and challenge and stretch me."

I was surprised to see the room full, at least 30 people in attendance, all the heads of sections were there.  Remember, this is a small post, so getting 5 people at a presentation is often a good thing.  Then again, considering the amount of emails I received about this event, high attendance wasn't too much of a surprise.

Our speaker was Randy W. Berry, the State Department's Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons.  I didn't know our government had a position that sent a diplomat around the world, discussing the fair treatment of LGBT persons.  It may have been big news a year ago when this position was created, but I missed it.  I'm now wondering if they have a position for women's rights, handicapped people's rights and people of various color's rights.  These are all issues where people are discriminated against around the world as well as in our own country.  And, if we're talking about human rights issues, is there an envoy for child prostitution, girl's eduction, forced labor, refugees and poverty, just to name a few?  Possibly there are.  I know that different sections at the embassy deal with different issues and are working on them continuously.  I've just never been invited to a round table discussion about these issues and I've never been aware of a diplomat visiting to discuss one of these specific issues with a host country.

I know I was a minority at that meeting.  Mr. Berry did a good job.  He explained the purpose of his job, to advance the efforts to move towards a world free from violence and discrimination against LGBT persons.  I listened.  I watched the room.  Heads nodded, hands scribbled notes on spiral bound notebooks.  The more I listened, the more I realized what a tangled web this topic is.  I know I'm not going to change the way our government and our world is moving, so I began thinking about how I should act as a Christian.

Something that was very clear, in that room, at that moment, is that I am alone in a sea headed in a direction away from God.  I'm sure this is how some of our great Biblical heroes felt when they were thrown into governments that didn't follow the ways of God.  Look at Joseph, Daniel and Esther.  They were Jews who lived day in and day out in the most powerful, secular governments in place at their times.  We see integrity in their lives as they moved with flow until it was time for them to stand up and take a position, regardless of the consequences. I have a feeling that when that time came, it was not a whishy-washy moment.  I think that God made His presence know to them and gave them the power to stand alone.  I see these heroes consistently making decisions to follow the law that God had given them.  Most the time this didn't impact their job or life, in fact, there may be scores of silent heroes  who lived at the same time, who faithfully followed the laws of God, lived and died.  They weren't given the opportunity to stand alone, yet daily they followed God.  They were the average person.  Like me.

I asked myself, what is God wanting me to do with this issue?  I'm not a grand scale person and this isn't my battle to fight.  But I do have friends who are homosexual and I believe that God is very clear about how I am to treat them - with love. God does not want me to be prejudice.  He does not want me to be condescending.  Honestly, this started out awkward for me, but the more I have learned to look past the label, to the person, the easier it has become.

The question was presented, "Is it possible to have freedom of belief and promote civil rights?"  I believe it is.  I think that it is possible for me to have a strong belief in the right or wrongness of an issue and still work towards those very people being able to live a safe and free life.

I think we all have our issue that it's easy to be prejudice against.  We know the hot topics out there, color, religion, homosexuality...  But what about some of the other areas where prejudice can creep in?  Intellectual level, job, neighborhood, weight, status in the church?  I know exactly where my battle lies.  (I didn't even list it here, but it screams out at me when I'm faced with confronting it head on.)  It really is a battle too.  I want to talk bad about that group of people.  I want to put them down and criticize them.    I want to throw rocks at them (figuratively speaking).  And I know how very wrong my attitude is.

I guess I got what I wanted today.  I thought, I examined myself and I came up with things that I need to work on.  My agenda was different than the speakers, but I know where my heart needs to change.

1 comment:

  1. If your religion condemns people for an immutable trait (a trait of LOVE, no less), maybe you should reconsider the validity of your religion.

    ReplyDelete