The night was heavy as we drove home from town. Worship practice had ended and the kids were weary, having just completed a wild giggling Nerf gun/light sabre war in the church foyer. The darkness was thick and the headlights on my parents borrowed van barely cut through while the tall snowbanks mocked us in whispered tunes of 'spring is neeeeeever coming!!!!'
A story spilled from the radio speakers, a horrific tale of hate BUT instead of turning it off to protect my dear sweet children from the incredible violence of the world, I reached over and turned it up.
They were quiet. They listened. I knew by their attentiveness that they were feeling something.
Hunted in Russia is a documentary following a vigilante Russian gang who hunts down homosexuals, abducts, assaults and humiliates them publicly. We listened as they described a boy - A YOUNG BOY - who was filmed naked in a bathtub, sobbing while urine was poured on him. A weeping man with a gun to his head forced to give his name and address to a camera, the repercussions of which could cause anything from the loss of his job to his murder in the name of 'the law'.
Is the world really this broken?
This hurt me in a deep part of my soul.
Who is less human: the one who hates because of differences or the one who simply loves differently?
Everyone deserves the right to live their life in the manner they choose, free from fear and violence. My personal beliefs don't matter in the face of someone else's freedom. We seem to be making a good career of it but judgement is not the calling of humanity.
I raise my children by Biblical principles. I strive to instill in them the values that I hold true to my heart. What I would never do is teach them that anyone not holding to those values is worth any less. Hate is the greatest weapon we have and it is wielded far too freely. I want to raise children who respect their fellow man, who never discount a person's humanity because of misaligned beliefs.
When the story ended, I turned off the radio. The silence was palpable. I felt a tightness in the back of my throat. "Were you listening?" I asked.
"Yes," Zander said.
"Why are people so mean?" Liam asked.
And it opened a discussion for the remainder of our drive. A conversation about respect and love and values and bullying and how lucky we are to live in Canada and more than once I had to stop talking to wipe tears from my face because I felt so broken for the people being persecuted and so proud of my kids for actually engaging in a conversation that will hopefully inform their own choices in how they deal with anyone who is just a little bit different.
It is not for us to judge. The world needs love and grace and peace and understanding and acceptance and warm handshakes and beautiful music and equality and laughter.