I have wondered and pondered just what I would write about the death of Rev. Jerry Falwell. His death has brought such varied responses from the left and the right of politics, but I feel one’s death should never be made into a political gain or loss. I have looked at most of the rhetoric around Rev. Falwell and see such passion, anger followed by such love and hate. Amazing how one man’s life could bring about such a varied response of emotion.
I can see pretty clearly this was more about his life than his death. It was about the morals he stood for, the fights and battles he chose and the methods that made those things come into light. From his life I see one important fact. Change happens even to the best of us. Even our most held beliefs are subject to change with enlightenment and this good man was the testament to that change.
At one point in the good man’s life he was in favor of segregation, even in his own church. That changed for Rev. Falwell. In time, he open his church doors to people of all races and colors. He left behind any intolerance, bigotry or prejudice in favor of diversity. This was a display of the change we all can undertake. This was justice in motion and changing lives. This was also inspiration for so many others to do as he did.
At one point the Rev. Falwell was against interracial marriage. He spoke against it. he rallied the troops of the moral majority to fight it. In the end, this too change for the good Rev. Falwell. These small changes made big impressions on our culture that bigotry and prejudice do die with time and understanding.
Falwell made the mistake of blaming gays and lesbians, as well as abortionists for the September 11th attacks on America. This was another unfortunate display of misinformation and hate from a man who otherwise tried so hard to live his life in the Christian light. One cannot help but wonder if Falwell’s view on gays would not have softened with time much like his views on Race. Either way, his life has been a testament that prejudice does die. It changes into good with knowledge and understanding.
I wish his family the best in these trouble times, but I wish more for all of America to look at Falwell’s life and the testament of change. He was a model for bigotry’s death as each year of his life proved that change happens and it can move us all towards a beloved community.
I am not angry nor bitter at the life of this man. Instead, I choose to look at the change and see it as hope for the future that even the most bigoted of us can change. The most racist of us can become champions of civil rights. It takes time, understanding and a level of patience that few of us have but all of us need. Rev. Falwell’s life is a testament to change, I pray we choose that for his legacy, forgive his mistakes and do the same for those living with us today in the same condition.
Forgiveness is the most precious commodity we have. It will take us farther than money, farther than hope and grant us more of the community we all pray for in the world.
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"Be the change you wish to see in the world"
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King Jr.
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