I posted this on Facebook, but wanted to save it here for posterity . . .
Fred Phelps is dead. And from reading many FB posts, some are celebrating what they are sure is his entry to hell. But not me. I'm not celebrating. I'm mourning.
This was a man who spoke hate, preached hate, practiced hate. His comments and beliefs were vile, provocative, and viciously angry. He wanted so many people to see and feel his hate, he went all the way to the supreme court. So he was allowed to continue spreading his messages of fear, hate and intolerance - messages aimed at people I know as acquaintances, friends and family. Instinct makes me want to hate back, to defend these people I know. But as Martin Luther King said, "Darkness does not drive out darkness. Only light can do that."
So I'm trying very, very hard to love this man who had such hatred in his heart. I will not increase the darkness of his words by repeating them, or taunting his memory with them. I choose to focus on mercy. I choose to whisper words of love and acceptance into the hearts of those who were wounded by Phelps hate. I choose to pray that those who followed his ideas will know kindness and unconditional love so their hearts will find some lightness. I'm mourning that Phelps died without ever understanding the power that real, true love can have. I am sad that he did nothing to make the world a more loving and kind place. It breaks my heart that his poisonous words will live on longer than he did.
Phelps death reminds me to make a conscious effort to live my life with love and acceptance, which I hope can make a real difference in the lives of other people. Hating Phelps and celebrating his death is easy, but I choose the more difficult path, using light to drive out the darkness.