The Key to Communicating Kindly

As a child, Tyler experienced sexual abuse from his mother. His father had left when he was a baby, and so he grew up fascinated by the idea of a father, inventing his own father figure in his imagination. When he reached high school, Tyler realized that he didn’t like girls but instead felt those feelings toward the other boys. When the other students found out, he was called cruel names and lost most of his friends.

Amy grew up in a highly religious household, and came to believe strongly in that religion herself. She felt strongly that marriage was only to be between a man and a woman, and so she wrote an article about that belief. Even though she didn’t express any hostility toward any LGBT group or person, she was labeled a “bigot” and a “homophobe” by those who read her article.

Jason came out as gay in college, but still wanted to live his Christian religion. He met with his religious leaders, and they helped him to find ways to live within the church’s standards while accepting his homosexuality. In order to keep this balance, Jason chose to remain celibate and regularly met with his religious leaders as they supported and helped him. Other acquaintances in his gay support groups criticized him for not having “gay pride” and for living within the bounds of a narrow-minded, archaic religion.

Stephanie’s sister, Emma, was an active feminist. She marched on Washington and wore the pink hat to protest chauvinism. Emma wanted to make sure the world would be fair for her and her future daughters, because she felt it wasn’t yet. Stephanie, on the other hand, thought the march was unnecessary. She felt she was well-respected and didn’t need to be feminist to fulfill her potential as a woman. Both sisters thought the other was stupid for her beliefs, and the arguments turned into a bitter silence not long after the march.

These are four fictional stories drawn from the experiences of those I know and the stories I’ve seen on social media. They show the disparity between the idea and the person. You may think gay marriage is morally wrong, but that doesn’t mean calling a gay person a derogatory name is in any way acceptable. You may believe that women and minorities are oppressed and that men need to give them more rights, but that doesn’t mean you can insult those women who don’t agree with you or those men who are just trying to be nice by getting the door for you.

One of the most basic truths that is being lost in the world right now is that there are rights and wrongs. There is a moral black and white, yes and no, and not just within the bounds of religion. For a society to function, there must be moral absolutes. However, just because something is wrong doesn’t mean the person is bad. Every child experiments with swearing, and the best parents correct the child and continue to love them just as much.

In our situations, we are rarely in a place to judge or correct. Just because you don’t believe in gay marriage doesn’t mean you have to inform your friend who just came out that he’s going to hell. Just because you think Trump is an immature idiot doesn’t mean that you can tell your friend who voted for him that the country’s going to fail and it’s his fault. You don’t know what your gay friend is feeling. You don’t know why your friend felt like he should vote for Trump. You love the person, even if you don’t support the action.

Mahatma Gandhi is quoted as saying, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” I believe that goes for any believe that is contrary to our own: We don’t have to agree or even support an action or lifestyle to love the person doing or living it. You can actively stand up for your beliefs without tearing down or insulting those who believe otherwise. Be brave, be bold, be straightforward, but don’t be rude.

Stay friends with Tyler. Read Amy’s article with an open mind. Support Jason’s lifestyle choices. Love both Emma and Stephanie equally. You never know what someone is going through or what someone is thinking. You are never in a place to judge the person, only to love them. That will make the world kinder, communication easier, and the sharing of ideas a pleasant experience instead of a harsh one.