Beyond screaming

Posted: Sep 24, 2002 12:00 AM
Few apparitions are uglier and less useful than a red-faced, veins-popping, seemingly unbalanced defender of conservative principles of self-restraint. Yet such individuals abound in our ranks. It's easy for conservatives such as myself to wax irate about --here's one example -- last month's "Leather Pride Week" in Portland, Ore., which was not an occasion for selling more suitcases and shoes, but an extension of "Gay Pride" events toward frontiers of perverse sexual activity that I won't describe here. But we should all read what the poet-king David tells us in Psalm 131, reporting on his lifetime of struggle: "I have calmed and quieted my soul. Like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me." The news each day includes items that can make us wrathful. When the culturally left Village Voice ran an article praising a New York City sado-masochistic event, the author noted that "every other guy was decorated with a sash bearing his title -- International Drummerboy, American Leatherman, International Mr. Deaf Leather, to name just a few -- which provided many opportunities for genuflecting, of course." Rather than screaming at those who genuflect to false gods, we should pity them and pray for them. We should also see the humor in some of the ideologies our neighbors profess. For example, look at a press release headlined, "Who Knew Chickens Could Be So Endearing? Three Chickens Rights Groups Urge Media to do Positive Stories During 'September: National Chicken Month'"? Here's the lead: "Three U.S. animal rights organizations are urging the news media to balance chicken industry advertising with positive stories about chickens during "National Chicken Month." Think this is a hoax? I did at first, but this press release is only the latest in a series that includes one proclaiming, "Frank Perdue Now Available as a Voodoo Doll." It's true, as the press release noted, that celebrated New York Times writer William Grimes published a book this year, "My Fine Feathered Friend," that details Grimes' "strong emotional attachment to a chicken." And it's true that is on the offensive, advertising Roasted Garlic Teriyaki Chicken. In a strange land where unborn children are killed while a battle rages over whether to eat chicken, conservatives must act -- but not explode. And how about when abandoning a wife is seen as no big thing? The Austin American-Statesman, reporting on Sept. 22 about a local event in which the American Red Cross and other agencies handed out clothes, sleeping bags and food to some 300 homeless individuals, noted in passing that one young man "has been homeless since leaving his wife three months ago." That was it -- no explanation of whether he left his wife because she came at him with a butcher knife or because he just wanted to move on, leaving her impoverished. The young man, standing in line for a free haircut, said the giveaway was "a great experience. 'It's really nice of the people who put this together for people like us.'" Nice? For sure. Helpful? If he abandoned his wife for the hell of it -- I use that strong word deliberately -- we should hope that he is so thoroughly miserable on his own that he'll do the right thing and go back. If an agency enables him to do wrong, conservatives might feel like exploding -- but that won't help. What will help is continued, patient teaching and showing that compassion means helping people to live responsibly, not treating them like pets. When faced with liberal craziness, we must calm and quiet our souls, for two reasons: Calm, consistent work is more effective than screaming. And, God is still in charge.