By now you’ve likely heard about the passing of Fred Phelps Sr., pastor of Westboro Baptist Church. The church is known for their protests of funerals for those in the armed forces, and equally for their hateful and bigoted opinions.
I’ve seen many posts from people on social media calling for a protest of Phelps’s funeral, as a show of retaliation towards the family and church. Others have suggested far darker and disturbing actions, while most have simply expressed a sense of celebratory glee at the passing of someone they view as a horrible person.
But I cannot celebrate a death, however despicable the deceased. And I cannot willingly bring additional grief to a mourning family, no matter how much hate they may bear.
The truth is that there will always be a Fred Phelps Sr. They may not pastor a church, or be as vocal in their vitriol, but there will always be those that make the spread of hate their life’s work.
Hatred and bigotry are like cancer, and choosing to partake in them is like picking up a pack-a-day smoking habit. It may seem like an inconsequential habit at first, but it eventually becomes a defining trait. And the stench will drive away many you might love.
I understand feeling like you desire justice, or even a sense of vindication in Phelps’s passing. But by choosing to share hateful words in response you are feeding on the same cancer on which he dined. Hatred may not have been the official cause of death, but it did kill him. Don’t let it kill you too.
So I said I would not be writing about the passing of Phelps, and I’m not. This post is not about him, it’s about you. How you choose to react to this says something about you. You may choose to celebrate your freedom to live as you wish, or you may feel a special urge to be with those you love. But I implore you not to sink to the level of hatred.
For my part, this will be the only post I make regarding the topic. Anything less would be a missed opportunity, and anything more would be keeping alive something that should remain dead. For my part, I will continue to love people as much as I am able, and to stay as far from hate as I can.
As for the passing of the late Fred Phelps Sr., I will treat his passing with the same degree of significance with which I treat the removal of any minor pain from my life. I intend to forget Phelps with the same degree of dedication with which he hated those I love.
How will you choose to love when it would be so easy to hate?