Saturday, March 15, 2008

Crying for Oklahoma

I haven't lived in Oklahoma City for about 4 1/2 years now and I have to say I don't really miss it. I have a lot of really good friends there and I miss them, but this story goes a long way in explaining the atmosphere that I am glad I left behind. Representative Sally Kern, serving a distrcit in Oklahoma City, made some remarks recorded in a video that was placed on YouTube referring to the "homosexual agenda" and calling it a worse threat to this country than terrorism. For an in depth look at the story, including a link to the video and comments from some various OK residents you can go to Channel 9's website here. I don't know who this woman is - she isn't anyone I recall from my residency there - but her comments are beyond appalling. To liken homosexuality (and whatever our "agenda" is) to terrorism is dangerous and inflamatory. And she's basing this ideology on her Christian faith. ARGH! How is such hate filled speech Christian? When did Jesus say or do anything like this to ANY group of people? I'm so tired of my faith getting hijacked by people like this and then Christianity getting a bad rap.

Fortunately, there are other people who are willing to stand up to people like this and try to represent a different brand of Christianity. I received a copy of this letter in an email from a friend who still lives in OKC. It was also posted in the comments section on channel 9's website coverage -

Rep Kern:
On April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City a terrorist detonated a bomb that killed my mother and 167 others. 19 children died that day. Had I not had the chicken pox that day, the body count would likely have included one more. Over 800 other Oklahomans were injured that day and many of those still suffer through their permanent wounds.
That terrorist was neither a homosexual or was he involved in Islam. He was an extremist Christian forcing his views through a body count. He held his beliefs and made those who didn't live up to them pay with their lives.
As you were not a resident of Oklahoma on that day, it could be explained why you so carelessly chose words saying that the homosexual agenda is worse than terrorism. I can most certainly tell you through my own experience that is not true. I am sure there are many people in your voting district that laid a loved one to death after the terrorist attack on Oklahoma City. I kind of doubt you'll find one of them that will agree with you.
I was five years old when my mother died. I remember what a beautiful, wise, and remarkable woman she was. I miss her. Your harsh words and misguided beliefs brought me to tears, because you told me that my mother's killer was a better person than a group of people that are seeking safety and tolerance for themselves.
As someone left motherless and victimized by terrorists, I say to you very clearly you are absolutely wrong.
You represent a district in Oklahoma City and you very coldly express a lack of love, sympathy or understanding for what they've been through. Can I ask if you might have chosen wiser words were you a real Oklahoman that was here to share the suffering with Oklahoma City? Might your heart be a bit less cold had you been around to see the small bodies of children being pulled out of rubble and carried away by weeping firemen?
I've spent 12 years in Oklahoma public schools and never once have I had anyone try to force a gay agenda on me. I have seen, however, many gay students beat up and there's never a day in school that has went by when I haven't heard the word **** slung at someone. I've been called gay slurs many times and they hurt and I am not even gay so I can just imagine how a real gay person feels. You were a school teacher and you have seen those things too. How could you care so little about the suffering of some of your students?
Let me tell you the result of your words in my school. Every openly gay and suspected gay in the school were having to walk together Monday for protection. They looked scared. They've already experienced enough hate and now your words gave other students even more motivation to sneer at them and call them names. Afterall, you are a teacher and a lawmaker, many young people have taken your words to heart. That happens when you assume a role of responsibility in your community. I seriously think before this week ends that some kids here will be going home bruised and bloody because of what you said.
I wish you could've met my mom. Maybe she could've guided you in how a real Christian should be acting and speaking. I have not had a mother for nearly 13 years now and wonder if there were fewer people like you around, people with more love and tolerance in their hearts instead of strife, if my mom would be here to watch me graduate from high school this spring. Now she won't be there. So I'll be packing my things and leaving Oklahoma to go to college elsewhere and one day be a writer and I have no intentions to ever return here. I have no doubt that people like you will incite crazy people to build more bombs and kill more people again. I don't want to be here for that. I just can't go through that again.
You may just see me as a kid, but let me try to teach you something. The old saying is sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Well, your words hurt me. Your words disrespected the memory of my mom. Your words can cause others to pick up sticks and stones and hurt others.

Wow. Thank you, Tucker, for expressing what I (and I'm sure others) are feeling in response to Rep. Kern's words.

In one last comment, I'd also like to point out that Rep. Kern has been getting many email and phone messages since these comments were put on YouTube - some of which were threatening. While I think her comments were extremely offensive and just plain wrong, I think that death threats are just as wrong. Someday we need to learn how to not immediately retaliate, but take a deep breath and find a better way to handle things. Rep. Kern isn't the only person who feels the way she does about homosexuality, and we can't go around physically harming or threatening those who don't think like we do. When will we learn? How can we do it? What do you folks in OK think about all of this? Has it been a big deal in OKC? I have to say that I hadn't heard much about it here in Kansas City.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Money, money, money

Some of you may have the theme song used on "The Apprentice" in your head; others may have Abba going through theirs. Either way, the theme for this article is moolah, dough, dollars, bucks, the bottom line. Now that I've been working in the non-profit world it has become that much more apparent to me how much money impacts lives. I get disgusted when I think how much we have to have money and the fact that those people who have a lot of it get more power because of it. I LOVE working at Habitat for Humanity Kansas City and they like having me. They want to hire me, but question whether they can because of what?? MONEY. AmeriCorps is funding my current position (through the federal government) and I'm eligible to work a second term thru them, but our positions for next year haven't been approved yet - why?? MONEY. (The new federal budget has majorly cut funding to the CNCS which is over AmeriCorps - which means the entire Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps program is in jeopardy affecting Habitat chpaters all over the US - to read more about it & take action go here.) We have several potential partners who want to work with our office to build houses but in the tightening economy companies aren't sure they can donate that kind of cash while they're cutting jobs. Others will only come on board if they know that some other group is going to commit. Meanwhile we have families lined up and ready for their homes to be built and wehave to tell them we're not sure it will happen this year because of MONEY.

I've never been a big fan of money - I understand that it's necessary to get those things that we need to live, but I hate the way it often motiviates people to do things that are, in my mind, unethical or in humane. It drives me crazy that people who have a lot of money get to decide which organizations are worth funding while others disappear despite the work they were attempting to do. All I want is to have a job that gives me enough money to buy food, live in a house that's not too big, have a car that works well, pay my utilities and occasionally got out to eat or do something fun. I don't care about having a big vacation to Europe (although it would be nice) - I can take some days off and go camping. I just hate that in order for my organization to function, or for me to have a job in a few months, I'm need to kiss up to people who have the money and therefore decide whether it should happen or not.