Pete Seeger's banjo
My apologies to the good people of Topeka, Kansas. You have been so good to me over the years, and today I'm choosing to give space to your (arguably) most nefarious and disturbed citizen.
The family and I recently visited Topeka for three truly moving performances. (See video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1C0x5JZg23M&feature=related) More than 1,300 people over the course of the day! During one of our breaks we drove down a street in the state's capitol and saw a banner that read, "God hates America."
The banner was lashed to a tall fence that surrounded some property. A "compound" you might call it, and a sure indication that behind it lurks anarchists. Why is it that those who live on the violent edges of society live in compounds? No doubt, to protect themselves from backlash to their hate-filled existence.
The property and the sign belong to Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church. Phelps is the self-proclaimed pastor and chief hater of America, Canada (all countries, really), US military personnel, homosexuals, Jews, non-whites, and, of course, Heath Ledger.
Now, I'm not sure what "god" his sign is referring to, but it isn't the God I know. God, by the very definition of "God," is incapable of hate. Love and hate simply can't co-exist -- one precludes the other. I'm pretty sure that God loves all the things that Phelps hates, and I'd bet God even loves Phelps.
So, here's what we do. We take a move from Pete Seeger's playbook and surround Phelps and other hate-mongers with love. Really. I know you'd rather inflict more painfully-satisfying things on him, but this is our best antidote to his kind of venom. A famous quote inscribed on the head of Seeger's banjo reads, "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender." I love that.
Our four-year-old daughter Lyda reminded me of something so simple the other day. We were making wishes on something and she asked me what I wished. I said, "World peace." And she said, "We've already got peace, because we've got God."
She's right, as always. We've already got peace right here; we just have to choose it, use it, mobilize it, and surround the planet with it.
Now, get out there and spread some love!