Today there was an article that Fred Phelps, the founder of Westboro Baptist Church, is in a hospice dying. I have thought about this day in the far past, the final days of one of the most hateful men is actually something I put thought into before.
Years ago I would have cheered his death. I would have hollered, hooted and made it a reason to throw a party. Even before my husband came out, I had many friends (including my at the time wife) who were either gay or bisexual. Not only that, but his treatment of pretty much everyone else made me hope for his death. It wasn’t just the protests of funerals, but the way he treated his own church members as well.
I would hope not only that he dies, but that he would die in extreme agony, alone and distraught that no one cared for him. I even hoped that maybe he would think at the end that it had all been a lie. I hoped for whatever last moment crushing of his spirit (and body) that could happen.
However, today when I heard about his impending death I realized a few things.
- I haven’t actually thought about him in a long time, even when I see the shenanigans on the tv, he leaves my mind as soon as the news article is over. I haven’t given him a single ounce of energy beyond the initial response everyone has to his church’s actions.
- I realized that I wasn’t ecstatic that he was dying. There is no overwhelming joy, and no desire to throw a party. In fact I kind of felt empty about it.
- After I read the article, my response was for me to hope that he found some sort of peace in these last few days. I know some people don’t think he was troubled by what he did, and that may be true. Something was broken inside of him though, I hope maybe he got some clarity.
I am not sure what the change in my outlook is, or really when it happened. I suspect as I grow older that maybe I take a longer view of the world, or maybe I have just seen enough hatred in the world that I don’t want to give it any more energy then it gets from me.
I don’t forgive him for what he did, and I wouldn’t weep if he ended up in his own hell (if something like that exists), but I don’t have the hatred myself towards him. Unlike a lot of people who are crowing upon his demise, I just sighed, clicked the link and moved on (well except for this blog post and my realization I didn’t have the hatred anymore).