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The Silver Lining in an Ugly Insult
From:
Shel Horowitz, Marketing Consultant - Going Beyond Sustainability Shel Horowitz, Marketing Consultant - Going Beyond Sustainability
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Springfield, MA
Monday, June 17, 2024

 

How a Bigot's Hurtful Comments Led to Something Wonderful

The other day, I attended a memorial service for a neighbor. I'm not someone who typically gets offended at memorial services—but one speaker—a son of the deceased—made me feel I was standing underneath an avalanche. He said almost nothing about his mother, but went on and on about the need to accept Jesus and become this man's kind of "Christian" in order to be spared a literal eternity in actual Hell.

Listening, I grew increasingly upset and furious. He effectively created a second-class citizenship, or worse, for everyone who doesn't follow his particular brand of religion

I am not a Christian, but I've read the Four Gospels. Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan? Samaritans were a despised ethnic group among Jews in Roman Palestine 2000 years ago. Jesus' message was all about acceptance of the good in people, acceptance of diversity, and taking responsibility for your OWN behavior—attributes that seem to be in short supply amongst this man's self-righteous and vindictive style of religious fundamentalism. I don't even now how they can even call themselves Christians when their key message mocks and marginalizes Christ's own virtues. And I was appalled by this man, so smug that he actually said that he would see his parents in Heaven IF they were admitted there; he had no worries about his own fitness to enter the kingdom of love. Jesus would have been just as appalled. He was far more concerned with healing the sick, with undoing the misery of the poor and bereft, than with following religious rituals without following the moral codes underlying them:codes that recognize the worth of every human being.

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After the service, I was simmering with rage and felt a need to process with someone who'd been there. I called another neighbor, a friend who welcomed us to the neighborhood 25 years ago. Before I could even say more than "I need to vent about the memorial service," she named the offensive speaker and told me that she and her husband were equally appalled, and that this man with his ugly prejudices was an outlier in his own family. I felt some closure after our call.

The next day, I mentioned in my daily public Gratitude Journal on Facebook that I was grateful for her support "helping me debrief a very uncomfortable moment in the memorial we both attended yesterday." I didn't give any more details than that.

And then the magic happened. I got a Facebook private message from another neighbor, a relative of the deceased. This person is my Facebook friend, but in real life, we barely know each other. Most of our contact has been a quick hello at the annual neighborhood holiday party. She sent me a deeply personal and very welcoming note of apology for the conduct of her relative, appreciation that I had attended, and gratitude for the many cultures and religions who had come together to support her family in this time of grief. We sent a stream of messages back and forth for the next half-hour, and I came away feeling like I had a new friend, even after 25 years of those superficial encounters.

And that was the silver lining—another gateway to abundance—in this cloud of ugly bigotry.

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Name: Shel Horowitz
Title: Marketing Consultant/Copywriter/Author
Group: GoingBeyondSustainability.com
Dateline: Hadley, MA United States
Direct Phone: 413-586-2388
Main Phone: 413-586-2388
Cell Phone: 413-512-0165
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