A few years ago, I took myself out of the news world--no longer read newspapers, limit my intake of web articles, and don't follow social media. This was a purposeful choice. After reading the news, I physically and emotionally felt worse. Now I don't. This doesn't mean I'm separated from the world; I feel deep in my bones the joys and sorrows that happen daily. Plus, Mark is a wonderful filter for information (as are my friends and family).
Because of my news freeze, I was unaware of Ann Coulter's post-presidential-debate tweet: "I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard." I only heard about this Tuesday night, while at our friends' house. Andrew & Jen are the closest of friends and their home is warm, cozy, and a lovely gathering spot. Their daughter, Madeline, is a gift. She's 16 months old and filled with spirit. She loves music and has a repertoire of dance moves. She's curious and smiles easily. She gives me hugs when I need them the most. And she also happens to have Down Syndrome.
When I heard about Ann Coulter's tweet, I immediately filled with anger; but this was only a temporary cover for my sadness and hurt. I felt hurt. As if Madeline, whom I hold so dear in my heart, had been insulted. But then I softened and realized the painful place from which such mean-spirited comments originate. Ann Coulter's life must be filled with suffering. Otherwise, she wouldn't use (and defend) such unskillful speech.
These are times when I'm not sure how to work with the world in which I live. How can I make sense of fear-based media, mean-spirited comments, and intolerance? Then Andrew showed me a response written to Coulter; a response from John Franklin Stephens. I read this letter and cried. I cried tears of sadness, but also of relief. What if we, as a community, interacted in the way of John Franklin Stephens? What if we invited questions and friendships from those different from us? What if we responded to intolerance with tolerance? What if we kept our hearts open--risking being hurt, but making space for acceptance?
Ultimately, I realize I can't control the community in which I live. But I can change how I live. John Franklin Stephens is a wonderful role model. As is Madeline: