Issue 17: War & Peace
Published January 2014
We all have our battles, our own wars to wage. War can consume a person, ensnarl one’s soul in bitterness and unforgiveness—but only if you let it.
“Shame on you.”
“You are a disgrace to the LGBT community.”
The judgment of House Representative Jo Jordan in light of her vote against the passage of SB 1, the bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, was swift and without reserve. After news of the openly gay representative’s treacherous stance went viral, thousands of comments spewed in from locals and those around the nation in the comments sections of articles and on Jordan’s Facebook page, the above a few of the tamer of remarks. Some compared Jordan to the KKK or Nazis; one likened her actions to the memory of being “doused in gasoline and set on fire as a tiny baby” and “tortured to death … under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church and in Auschwitz.”
In the days that followed Jordan’s coming out against the bill, speculations of her motivations were made. “Was your fifteen minutes of fame worth it?” wrote one commenter on Facebook. Some accused her of being politically motivated, pandering to a religious or conservative voting public in hopes of reelection; others thought she had gone insane. Many called her a coward.
“I contemplated on standing up here today,” Jordan said in her testimony on the House floor two days after her public opposition of the bill, “because I stood up on Wednesday. See, three days ago, very few people knew me. And after I stood up on this floor on Wednesday and spoke … I became blasted. When you talk about body blows and coming with battle wounds and scars, anybody sitting or standing on this floor is not going to take what I’m going to take. … I have to be impeccable with my word, and I can’t go back now. I’m sorry to say with a heavy heart, it’s still in opposition.”
For weeks prior, the state had been divided, at war with each other and with ourselves. While many were entirely convinced, some were undecided. Christians wrestled with lifelong beliefs. At least one in the GLBT community was not convinced (though clearly, as evidenced by her introduction of HB 6, a measure relating to same-sex marriage, religious freedoms, and licensing, Jordan was not simply opposed to same-sex marriage).
Much of this issue, our War and Peace issue, developed as a direct response to the tensions that boiled over in the days leading up to SB 1’s passage, but there were other issues as well that brought on this squall of intense energy. In the last few months of 2013, thousands marched in the fight against GMO; hundreds protested against development of North Shore and Kaka‘ako; dozens cried foul in what they deemed a race-based acquittal of Christopher Deedy; one took a sledgehammer to homeless shopping carts.
I don’t know Jordan, and repeated requests for an interview went unanswered. As such, I can’t presume to know what prompted her decision, or what prompts anyone, for that matter, to fight for what he or she believes in. But there is something to be said of Jordan’s action, of standing by her word in the face of public ostracism, of a consideration of the community-at-large in sacrifice of her own personal freedoms. “It’s not given to people to judge what’s right or wrong,” Leo Tolstoy wrote in War and Peace. “People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong.” We all have our battles, our own wars to wage. “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive,” as Martin Luther King, Jr. put it so eloquently. “He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” War can consume a person, ensnarl one’s soul in bitterness and unforgiveness—but only if you let it.