If there is to be peace in the world,
there must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
there must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
there must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
there must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
there must be peace in the heart.
Lao Tzu (570-490 B.C.E.)
“Westboro Baptist Church” is the name of a disturbed cult of a few dozen people. They are not a church, they are not Baptist, and they are most likely severely mentally ill.
If you don’t know about this group, congratulations. If you would like to learn about them in some detail, you might start with this link in the Huffington Post and then do some Google searching on your own. I prefer not to link directly to any of the group’s websites.
I have seen this group do its thing in celebration of the deaths of West Virginia coal miners. What got my attention above anything else seeing it “live” was the presence of children. Weeping children are dragged along, forced to carry signs that say “God hates (fill in the blank).” Because the children are with the WBC adult picketers, any negative energy that comes from opposition to the protest on the street lands like another crushing boulder on these young souls.
Keep in mind that WBC does what it does very well, and by design. It is an emotional terrorist organization that preys on grieving communities and attempts to spark rage and backlash so as to further fragment fragile situations.
Fragmentation increases the likelihood that people will turn on one another over the slightest differences or misunderstandings. The first thing to do is have a moment of outrage in private with people you trust. Get it out of your system if you must, but it is crucial to move on to a firm conviction that these people have no power, no authority, and no voice of significance about God, your loved ones, or your community. They are themselves desperately in need of positive energy and even prayer for their well-being.
The children in the midst of the chaos need the most help. However tempting, don’t engage WBC in anger. The only way this ends, be it WBC or any band of disturbed hate-mongers, is to respond in peace and love.
Fake it if you must, but get it done in front of these kids. That is how it stops.
Image credit: Pablo Picasso