Post 294.

In a society still recovering from the inhumanity of slavery and indentureship, our most important commitment is to non-violence, in all forms and in all relations. Non-violence isn’t just about not beating. It’s far more than refusing physical brutality or harm.

Non-violence is about seeing the God in another, recognizing them as born into the world with their own specific struggles and their own divine breath and heart, just like you. I suppose it’s been better said as, let he or she who is without sin cast the first stone. Therefore, with the same sense of its righteousness, put down your stone.

Each of us carries secret sins that we know would change how others treated us if only they knew. This includes the most pious, who have the hardest to fall and the most to hide, for the only way to distance yourself from the others whose imperfections, mistakes and faults seem so obvious and true, is to cast them as therefore less deserving than you.

What if we started differently? As all deserving equal rights and justice, as all deserving compassion and care, as all deserving the right to be, and to be safe and loved, in the ways which we want for ourselves.

I thought about this hope, and how it will be held aloft as our highest ideal at Saturday’s Pride Parade, which will be held at Nelson Mandela Park in Port of Spain, from 2pm.

At the march in Barbados, which occurred without any violent response, a generation of young people came with their messages. One, by a trans woman, plainly and powerfully said, “reclaiming my humanity”. She’s right, it’s the same thing that protestors are doing in response to unjust police killings. It’s the same thing that’s sought in leaving an abusive partner. It’s the fundamental achievement for enslaved African people that is commemorated on Emancipation Day.

Another poster said “sexual orientation is not a choice”. This is good to remember next time we judge our brother or sister, or son or daughter, and refuse them familial love, because of who they are. I’ve thought about this many times, that the choice is less theirs than it is ours, to refuse to be the sinner who casts that first brimstone, knowing that such violence is only a sign of our own imperfection. Whatever your House of God, you are loved no more or less than folk who are LBGTQ+.

Such recognition should make you sit in your pew, or pray on your knees or perform aarti with a little more humility.  As one sign put it to those living in Barbados, “There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s a lot wrong with the world you live in”.  What’s wrong is that we think a respectable façade gives us enough legitimacy to deny another’s humanity, and to do so violently if we so choose, simply because they don’t maintain the respectable façade we do.

On Saturday, it would be beautiful to see LBGTQ+ people free to be themselves without the condemnation of others who should not cast the first stone. It would be beautiful to see religious folk and leaders march in solidarity because they see the God, and the divine breath and heart, in those it’s easy to hypocritically judge.

You may think that manhood and womanhood are under threat, but it is your own humanity, the God in you, that is at stake. One final sign said, “love thy neighbor as you wish to be loved”. On Saturday, the Pride Parade will express a collective wish simply to see this divine aspiration together achieved.