October 12, 1998 a handsome, well educated young man died quietly in a hospital bed while his parents watched him take his last breath. Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered in an inhumane act of hate by two men who just didn’t like the fact that he was gay. 13 years later a mother’s loss is too great to imagine and too horrific not to share. So share it we must so that perhaps our world might actually magically learn a lesson and change for the better.
Matthew Shepard was taught to be kind, tolerant and accepting. His parent’s raised an intelligent, hard working, well liked young man. He had dreams and aspirations that he will never realize because two boys chose to victimize and eliminate what was different from them. Those two boys were not taught acceptance. They were not taught kindness. Somebody showed them a way to live that gave them a twisted, distorted, ethnocentric view of the world and the people in it. They chose to ignore what was right and to act out on what was very wrong. Matthew was many, many things – a son, an activist and traveler, a student and a friend. Oh – and he also happened to be gay.
In our everyday lives we are surrounded by those who simply do not understand or wish to comprehend that love does indeed ultimately conquer hate. That differences and understanding of those differences is what makes this world all it ought to be. That the good guy does not truly ever finish last – it only seems that way sometimes to those with darker hearts and smaller minds. And finishing first means nothing when fueled by ignorance, jealousy, hatred and vengeance. It is only through self acceptance and love that a person can be good from the inside all the way out and thereby live life kindly – to others and themselves. It is only by education and experience from early childhood, through the guidance of involved parents and the influences of teachers that we can positively impact this world through the innocent, accepting, ever evolving heart of a child. We can make a difference in our lifetime – no matter how many paths we have to take to get there – and change the hate to love.
You can Google Matthew Shepard and read all about the foundation his heroic parents started in his memory. You can read about legislation and bills that have passed and have yet to pass. You can read about his life and his death. You can buy pendants with words etched in silver reminding us to erase hate. Erase Hate. What is so complicated and impossible about those two simple little words?? Erase Hate. One moment at a time – one person at a time – it must be possible – right?
13 years later and we still fight for justice and equality. Let’s fight the good fight – through education and tolerance – through living our lives as an example of everything Matthew Shepard must have prayed for in the middle of that cold Wyoming night as he faced his untimely death alone.
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About K. Guzman
Kathy grew up all over the US - lots of east coast time. She is a surfer girl with an unabridged curiosity. A woman whose mid life awakening continues to bring her to the place she was meant to be. Her degree in Journalism/Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida is being yanked from the archives and put to good use. Her two kids are grown and rock stars in this wild world – her Harley is ready for some serious summer miles – and her heart remains open to life, women and the possibilities each day brings.