[continued from above]
Well, so much for the easy stuff.
Now, I have made requests of you, and while not withdrawing those requests per se, I do think I owe you an apology for the negative way I presented them. That is, instead of giving you due credit for your tapestry of exceptional virtues, I hastened straight to what I saw as faults and started criticizing you. A common response to that would be for the censured party to feel shocked, hurt, abused, betrayed, and as a result, to lash out in angry defense, curl up into a silent ball, or flee the scene in terror. I assume you felt the feelings that screamed out to you to fight back, shield yourself, or take flight. But in defiance of all that, you let down your guard, opened up, and graciously apologized. Says a lot for you, whereas all it says for me is that I got "lucky" that day.
You have important messages to convey to the world. Messages about self-love, about lightening up where certain body parts are concerned, about freeing ourselves from shame, especially bodily shame, freeing ourselves and each other from the bondage of excessive clothing usage, centering ourselves on objective logic, recognizing the subjective nature of the words "sane" and "normal," opening up our minds to what we have in common with our non-human animal friends, and even adopting a better, cleaner approach to personal hygiene. Those messages spring easily to my mind by now, and I am betting that they're only the tip of the iceberg.
I'd like to see you have more success in getting the messages to the people who need them the most, the people who are the most likely to hear them, take them to heart, perhaps even implement them in their personal lives. If new and enlightened concepts can't take hold in a forum as open-minded as Polyamory.com, then I fear for our world and where it's heading. Not that I think we're doomed, just that I'd hate it to take 10? 100? times longer than it should have to for us to see societies everywhere take on a fresh, fulfilling change in how they do things, treat people, and solve problems.
In that spirit, I want to reiterate the scene of Jesus hanging out and supping with thieves, prostitutes, and low-lifes. Somehow I doubt he was sitting there trying to lecture them about how tragic their life choices were, and how much happier they'd be if they'd just listen to him and follow his advice. Instead, I fondly believe that he expressed sincere love, honor, and acceptance for them just as they were. His goal was to teach by example, rather than by lecture. If he lectured the Pharisees, it's probably because he didn't have much hope for them. The changes for the better that Jesus envisioned for the world were, in his mind, in the hands of the dregs of society. He saw good in people where no one else would see it, and by seeing the good, he naturally drew that good out into the warm light of day.
Jesus, then, being the ultimate teacher, sought as well to set the example for the great teachers that would follow throughout history. "Want to transform someone's life?" he might say. "Do it by expressing your love, admiration, and acceptance for that person just the way they are. People naturally reciprocate positive energy. They will want to learn your teachings if they trust you. Earn that trust by showing them that they can depend on you to truly love them unconditionally."
So I urge any/all who faithfully get this far in this thread: Spread enlightenment by spreading love. Don't focus on people's faults. "You're doing this wrong. You're causing damage. Your country is crude and arrogant. Your actions are illogical." Instead, look like hell for any little thing that people are doing right, and make that the cornerstone of your message. Encourage people to do better by making them feel encouraged -- not by making them feel dumb, worthless, or spineless. Point out their strengths. Celebrate their strengths. In due time, you'll find that they'll come to you for wisdom and counsel.
And now the hardest challenge: patience. Societal change is no overnight accomplishment. Even changing just one person can take that person's whole life. I'd love to see the world discard its worst vices before I die, but if I really want to be part of the solution, then I need to learn how to love the world just the way it is. I need to learn how to appreciate and be happy about the good things in the world, not be angry, depressed, or dragged-down all the time over the many bad things in the world. If the world is making a little progress, just the slightest bit of progress, in the right direction, even if it's progress on a single solitary issue: I need to learn how to sincerely rejoice in that progress, and interpret it as hope for the future.
So whatever and whenever you post, spread as much positive energy into people's hearts as you can. Don't weigh them down with thoughts of how terrible they're doing. Instead, give them wings to fly, and give them your blessing to fly wherever they wish, explore whatever they want, and return if and whenever they'd like to hear more of what you have to say. You really won't see much change in your lifetime, the odds of that are one in a million. So play the smart odds: the odds that people will learn a little (a wee teeny little) at a time, and one or two here or there will actually try something really brave at some point.
"And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!"
-- Doctrine and Covenants 18:15
In a word, don't despair if you feel like your message isn't reaching anyone. It could reach one person, and you might not even know about it, and yet that alone would make all your efforts worth it.
So, let your mission be lighted as a mission of faith, hope, and love. Try not to let anyone (not your friends, not yourself, not your enemies) beguile you into trying to execute it as a mission of fear, despair, or frustration. Be glad that you have a level of consciousness few will ever attain. Be grateful for the chance to share awesome ideas with a sleeping world. Be gentle and awaken people with a touch and a whisper. There's time. I know it doesn't seem like it, but in my dreams, happier generations are in our species' future. We can have some small effect on how soon that may be, and the best part is, the teacher always learns the most from the lessons he/she teaches.
You know how they say the first step in any crisis situation is, "Don't panic?" I believe that the opposite of panic is optimism. The problems that plague our world: we (with the help of our great-great-great-great-grandkids) will solve them. The human race will not die. I'll never give up on that optimism. And someday, the human race will learn what it truly is to live.
And now ... here's Kevin's sermon:
I hope that someday we'll be able to laugh about much of this. When things get heavy and ominous, I miss the wisecracks my old friends and siblings used to (sometimes still do) lob into the fray. For me it's like a shot in the arm, and sometimes it even makes it easier for me to relax my cemented views: those injections of the absurd. In my world, I call that a *real*