In response to hate.
This week has been tough. I have been struggling spiritually with the vote of the United Methodist Church to continue to ban gays. Our own rainbow flag from our North Thetford sanctuary has gone missing as well.
This morning I learned of the terrible incident at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Two students in blackface who chose to post a hateful message to the African American community on the last day of Black History Month.
Today, I was taking a needed break from school, work and life. My partner and I had planned to go to the Vermont Flower Show, a first for us. Yet reading about this hateful act, a part of me just wanted to get on a plane to Knoxville and stand in solidarity with all of my classmates.
One of the ongoing conversations in class, in addition to our schoolwork, has been about censorship, and limiting anyone's ability to read and have access to information. When hateful messages are sent to anyone, I always wonder if this hatred is coming from a place of ignorance. It is harder to believe this when these incidents are taking place in a house of worship, or an institution of higher education, yet they happen all too frequently. Perhaps, if people were exposed to more diverse resources, not to mention populations, bias, stereotyping and prejudice would diminish.
Ultimately we did go the Vermont Flower Show, and to downtown Burlington, ending up in Montpelier for a late dinner at the Langdon Street Tavern. We continued the conversation all day, admitting to each other how much easier it is to stereotype certain groups of people or even the towns around you, rather than make the effort to look at each situation uniquely.
I was born and raised in a very diverse state. When I first moved to the Upper Valley, I was shocked by the lack of ethnic diversity that existed, even on the Dartmouth campus. We have come a long way in thirty years, of which I am glad. Yet hate crimes still happen as well as intolerance and bigotry.
I like to think that if we can admire all the many colorful tulips at a flower show, we can celebrate all the colors, creeds and genders that make up our world. I will leave you with this final image, the eternal flame in Paris, to remember Lady Liberty, and more recently Princess Diana. I stand in solidarity with the UTK Volunteers, and will continue to work towards a world where all are equal, and treated fairly. No exceptions.