Over the last couple of years, I’ve been researching off and on a right wing evangelical group that has very successfully kept its cover for the most part. When I first discovered them, even my friend Mel White, who is considered an expert of anti-gay groups wasn’t familiar with them. I recall sending him the information I’d uncovered and asked him if he were familiar with them and he said he wasn’t. The Group is known as “The Family.” Since then, there have been a number of articles written about them, but it always seemed to me that they were much more powerful than anyone suspected.
So when gay rights activist David Kato, was beaten to death in his own home in Uganda, it was “The Family,” that I blamed and wanted to focus my anger and outrage toward. As Soulforce staff started to research in depth, their position on the Uganda anti-gay law, it began to look like perhaps they weren’t the core people promoting this draconian law. Now here’s my “aha moment.”
I can’t begin to express my disappointment when it turned out that they had publicly opposed the law. First reaction – it’s a lie! When we dig deeper we’ll find out the truth. Several days passed, I stewed and stewed on my disappointment. I really wanted to believe they were the ones behind it. I just couldn’t quite let go of the feelings of disappointment. I needed to believe that they were the bad guys.
And then, perhaps for the first time, I comprehended how “they,” the fundies needed us to be the bad guys. Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr for years has said that LGBTs became the focus of the fundamentalists as communism began to fall. They needed a new bad guy. But what I understood at that moment was, the role scapegoating plays for the vast majority of human beings. We need someone to blame. I suspect part of that need is that the “bad guys” can become our focus rather than working to change things. It fills a function for us.
Ultimately, as I began to process all these feelings, I realized how wise Gandhi was, when he said, “we must become the change we seek.” Because, it is only when we have such “ahah moments,” that we can feel compassion for our advesary, acknowledge them as human beings, and begin a real dialogue as opposed to a war with them.
I’ve often said that nonviolence isn’t for sissies. It’s really hard, hard work and it demands constant re-educating of ourselves, because we are daily given large doses of violence as the only workable answer. And this new “ahah moment,” is still giving me uneasiness as I process it. It’s so much easier to find a scapegoat to blame.