Why The Hate?

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This weekend I was moving house. The move was a success and I am glad it went well.

Now, that’s not why I did this post using org resources. There is this one thing that came up from Friday and through the weekend.

Murugi urges Kenyans to accept gays

Special Programmes Minister Esther Murugi told participants at a national symposium on HIV/Aids in Mombasa targeting homosexuals, lesbians and sex workers that the government had no option but to address the community’s concerns. (contd…)

When I read this story (but missed the TV version) I was elated. I thought to myself, “WOW! What a bold statement coming from a Cabinet minister! She must be really brave.” I also wondered to myself if at all she had thought through her decision to say this in public and also the aftermath with (for obvious reasons) would be coming her way. I also thought of the aftermath itself. The church would be furious… fuming like a mexican bull ready to charge with bloodshot eyes. Wait, the Church? Really? Okay.

Then of course the aftermath came.

Churches want Murugi sacked over gay remarks

More than 74 churches have petitioned President Kibaki to sack Cabinet minister Esther Murugi over her last week remarks on gay rights in the country. The churches, under the aegis of the Federation of Evangelical Indigenous Christian Churches of Kenya (FEICCK) warned of street demonstrations against the Ms Murugi, the Special Programmes minister. In a statement, Dr Methu said Ms Murugi discredited her reputation and was unfit to hold public office. … “This should happen in the shortest time possible; failure to which we shall not be left with any other option other than to ask those who care about righteousness and morality to demonstrate against her, “said FEICCK chairman Bishop Dr Joseph.

And then people wrote letters saying God will destroy us and that now gays & prostitutes are ‘allowed’.

Wow. Ok let me get this straight, we shall be destroyed for accepting gays and prostitutes. Hmmm.. the new constitution allows gays and prostitutes. Ok. Unless I’m daft, isn’t sex work (yeah, that’s the correct term to use, not prostitution-its derogatiory-in a way) like the oldest profession ever? And oh.. ohh… how do you allow something that already existed? huh?

I don’t wanna write much. All I see here is HATE. And with hate like such comes DISCRIMINATION (based on one’s sexual inclination or behaviour) and Hate Motivated Violence / Hate Crimes! I am not going to talk about oh gays are like this or oh sex workers are like that, am gonna talk about this hate that is brewing and still exists within the Church.

Say NO to HATE!

Church and Hate. Those two words just don’t fit. But its exactly what we’re seeing. I wonder. Is this the way we treat “our brethren”? With so much hate? I mean, okay, its a sin. They’re sinning. But surely, as God looks down upon us and sees us condeming people, judging them and calling them “devils incarnates” what are we telling Him? That we are now at His level and can judge others? That oh, LOVE is nooothing! Lets hate on the gays and prostitutes. For the Bible tells me so. Huh!!!

Let me tell you one thing. One of the reasons why I lost faith in religion is such things. If I am to “love one another as I love myself” then surely, is this such a treatment I’d want to receive? Sinner or not? Is that how Jesus treated sinners? Didn’t he love them and embrace them? He never condemned them at all! I am just … aargh! Don’t even ask. I could go on and on.

Please note, I am not saying that gays and prostitutes are sinning or not sinning. That’s not my job. Mine is to ensure that regardless of their behaviour (if you choose to call it that) I still want to ensure that their humanity is upheld and that they’re treated with dignity. In a world of many a variety of people, the one thing that we always will be, one thing that we should always keep in mind is OUR HUMANITY. Lets not treat others as lesser humans. Its just wrong.

I have my reservations about what I feel about gays and prostitutes. But they are human and should be treated as such. Scorning them and saying that they should be burnt (coz it says so in some holy book) is plain inhuman. No one would want to be treated as such.

I shall pen off. And promise to continue another day.

p.s. I have added links to words thanks to Zemanta.

*Over & Out*

Conversation on Homosexuality

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Some time back I was involved in a heated debate on a certain list serve I’m part of and I thought the following was quite an interesting take. Yes, I am FOR human rights and thus why this. Hope it sparks some thoughts in you too. It was one of the participants responding to another’s claims. Note: These are not my words, so E.&OE.

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I believe in human rights and advocate for it but on same sex marriage issue I strongly oppose
for the following reasons…

First let me assure you that the last we want is to advocate for same sex marriages, as a community, we feel that marriage has been an institution that has been used to discriminate against persons of LGBTIQ identities and even further entrench heterosexuality as the only valid and recognizable relation between individuals. Secondly,our struggles are so deep and so personal and political that subscribing to the institution of marriage keeps us from defining healthy ways to relate without having oppressive attitudes towards each other, your orientation and gender identity not withstanding. For example, as a woman, I would hate for anyone to think of me as an object of possession – I do not want anyone to pay dowry to my mother because first there is no price for me in monetary or otherwise, other than my precious life and to be expected to change my name to that of the person am getting married to is to invalidate my existence as a person with my own life to live (these are my personal feelings) as I am believer in equality and freedom to be and the marriage institution has proved to be a sexist and patriarchal institution and unless it changes, I want nothing to do with it.

This is not African orientation,brain washed ideas from the west,AFRICANS SHOULD REMAIN AFRICANS.DID YOUR GRAND FATHERS INVOLVE IN SUCH ACTS?

That must be stopped. I can go on and on with examples of healthy same sex relations that existed in very many African traditions, but if you want to chose to retain that argument, I will point you to your reference to Christianity and Islam, both of which are not indigenous to Africans, these religions were introduced to Africa by the same westerners you claim to have brain washed all the queer persons in Africa. And in the queer community we have people of all generations which goes far into explaining that sexual orientation and gender identity are inherent and not choices we make, the terms we use are borrowed from the English language gay lesbian, etc. and thus might not denote our lives as queer Africans and hence our desire to define ourselves within our African context,this however does not nullify our rightful existence as queer persons in Africa and does not call for blanket condemnation and invalidation of our being.

Why are our reproductive [parts] different because am a woman and the the other is a man. Its wrong biblically, Koran wise and indigenous wise. Who will marry us?

You will be married by the person you fall in love with, that person you make the choice to live the rest of your life with, that is a personal choice and we all have that opportunity to pursue any relationship and engagement that contributes to our well being. All the queer Kenyans would also want to indulge in that choice, of choosing the partner they want to share a life with, and our biological anatomy is a question that needs to be revised in relating with ourselves, should the fact that I have breasts and a vagina mean that I am only good for reproduction? That my role in the world is to reproduce and that’s it? I advocate for sexual rights and autonomy because sexuality is an intrinsic factor of all human beings, and it is interlinked with every other aspect of our lives. In this case we need to move beyond defining ourselves by our biological anatomy to a holistic approach to self identity…where all the attributes of my living are respected and acknowledged as the combination that allows me to experience life to the best most highest standards of potential and lived life.

I welcome all those who are ready to share,learn and engage in seeking social justice.
Amandhla!

Somewhere in the conversation I saw this interesting equation.

Genes + Brain Wiring + Prenatal Hormonal Environment = Temperament
Parents + Peers + Experiences = Environment
Temperament + Environment = Sexual Orientation

Then came this equally interesting fact.

Population of gays in the world??

One can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5%. that is, 5% of the 6 billion people in the world.

So will the human race decimate?

Quite fascinating conversation eh? All I can say is:

I yearn for the day when “HUMAN” will be the only label we brandish ourselves.

*Over & Out*

A Case of The Third Sex

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(You’ll probably need a cuppa coffe o sumthn coz this is quite long!)

In Kenya, and generally most parts of the world, we only know of two sexes: male and female. There is no ifs and no buts. BUT, there are people who identify with something different other than male or female. Now, I am no guru in this nor am I an expert. But I will give my five cents (adjusted for inflation) worth. I have had the privilege of meeting and interacting with intersex people and I somehow have some idea about their issues. I also did a post highlighting these factors earlier on but this one is specifically to address some issues I felt I needed to talk about.

Before anything else, lets get some of the definitions clear. According to Wikipedia,

Intersex in humans refers to intermediate or atypical combinations of physical features that usually distinguish female from male. This is usually understood to be congenital, involving chromosomal, morphologic, genital and/or gonadal anomalies, such as diversion from typical XX-female or XY-male presentations, e.g., sex reversal (XY-female, XX-male), genital ambiguity, sex developmental differences. An intersex individual may have biological characteristics of both the male and female sexes. Intersexuality as a term was adopted by medicine during the 20th century, and applied to human beings whose biological sex cannot be classified as clearly male or female. Intersex was initially adopted by intersex activists who criticize traditional medical approaches to sex assignment and seek to be heard in the construction of new approaches.

Thus, from the above we see that basically intersex persons are persons born with atypical or ambiguous genitalia. So that we can be at par, lets break that down further. Atypical means: “Not usual in a normal condition; opposite of typical”. Intersex conditions are varied. But one thing is clear, the gender marker, here (because of the way we are socially brought up and taught) is the genitalia. Now if the genitalia does not look like the usual male or female one, then its atypical. Ambiguous means: “Open to multiple interpretations; Vague and unclear”. If the genitalia does not resemble that of either male or female and looks like either, or, both, none, mixed, varied…..you get my drift? Its ambiguous. Its not clear. Its vague.

The above basically points out the onset of intersex condition. Such children born intersex face a plethora of difficulties, some of which I will cite here in no order or form.

Can you imagine a kid who is born with genitalia that resembles more of male than of female but under further scrutiny it is discovered that the kid passes urine through an opening under that which is supposed to be the penis? Parents freak out and wonder what to do. The doctor prescribes that an operation be performed on it immediately because “we don’t want it to be a social pariah”. The kid is assigned a female identity and the small penis is trimmed down to look like a clitoris and the what would have been the scrotum is opened up to look like a vagina. They cannot create a vaginal canal since the kid is too young. The said kid grows up and begins to socialize. In due course, it begins displaying more male characteristics than female. But since the parents want “a perfect family” and don’t want any embarrassment (considering intersex persons are viewed as a curse in many societies), they don’t disclose to anyone about the kid’s intersex condition and brush off the kids behaviour as wanja kihii (in Kikuyu) or tom boyish behaviour, a “phase that will pass”. As the kid grows, she indeed develops breasts because she had some estrogen in her body but is now even more of a ‘boy’ than ever. She even knows (inside) that she is different but cannot pin point what the issue is. And the parents still don’t disclose this to her. When she grows older she learns of her intersex condition and reprimands her parents for deciding her fate for her. She tells them that she has never felt as being a girl and she wants to be who she really is, a boy. Now, by this time, she already has gotten an Identity Card that shows a female name. But even looking at her, she looks a whole lot like a boy than a girl, her mannerisms, speech, character, and even her likings and desires are inclined towards male than female. One could deduce that she is just tom boy but she knows this isn’t so. She knows she is and has always been a boy. What would you do? How would you help her/him?

This is but an example of what goes on in the intersex community. Just a drop in the vast ocean. I liken this short story to that of Richard Muasya. He is an intersex inmate at Kamiti Prison who seeks special recognition of the fact that he is neither male nor female, despite the fact that he identifies as male. I understand when some people say that its not a big issue and that KHRC and others could concentrate on more pressing matters but I beg to differ, albeit not entirely. There are many issues that need tackling and that are being tackled. Not all of us do the same thing. We each have something we go for, we do, we fight for, we want to achieve. This is a human rights issue and Muasya is but one of the many intersex people we have in Kenya. He is brave enough to come forward and say outright that  gender binary is and has always made intersex people be discriminated against and ostracised by society simply because “they don’t fit in”. While people can say that he identifies as a man and thus should not complain, he indeed complains because, far from the fact that he was jailed for a crime (funny, one of the charges was rape. It was dropped since he could’t possibly rape anyone due to his intersex condition) he has faced other problems in life (see link).

Such are the kinds of issues faced by such people. Consider one who has a proper functioning penis and testes. Because at first it didn’t look like a penis and the testes were un-descended, it was decided that its a she. Only later to discover, as the above story, that she can not only impregnate a woman, but is also menstruating! Furthermore, her true identity is he. Thus, this man, is forced to live a life of female-hood and worse, endure the pain of menses like women! Imagine that! Again, since he was raised as a girl, all his documents including identification ones, have a female name and bear an “F”. Considering he looks nothing like a woman (this is an assumption based on what I’ve read/heard) it is very difficult to convince people he is the she indicated in his ID card.

This is why such a case is important. It is imperative that the government considers such persons and make a ruling such as that of India which recognises the unique identities of intersex and transsexual individuals. By having an “O” for Other, it paves way for covering issues surrounding ambiguous and/or unique gender identities.

I shall find out more and share. I am very passionate about these matters and it pains me to know that society still regards them as social misfits, freaks of nature, taboos to be killed at birth and many other gross violations of their human right.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are mine alone and I have made references through links. As mentioned earlier, I am not an expert and therefore these views should not be taken as expert/professional opinions.

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Am I An Activist?

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a friend while sipping some cold ones despite the cold weather. We had just met and were getting to know each other. My friend is in college and is pursuing a course on hotel management. Then he asked me a question…

“What do you do?”

I paused. I hesitated. I thought. In my mind, I was thinking “I’m an activist.”. But then, lately I have been really questioning that. Lately I have been asking myself, when I say am an activist, do I really know what it means? Do I know what it entails? Can I seamlessly akin myself to other renowned activists beginner steps?

What does it mean?

This morning I decided to write about it…in my spontaneous nature…while I learn. Yes, I have work to do, but lemme do this one. I went to wikipedia. Duuh!

Activism consists of intentional action to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change. This action is in support of, or opposition to, one side of an often controversial argument.
The word “activism” is used synonymously with protest or dissent, but activism can stem from any number of political orientations and take a wide range of forms from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism such as boycotts or preferentially patronizing businesses, rallies, street marches, strikes, both work stoppages and hunger strikes, or even guerrilla tactics.

Oh I see. “Intentional action to bring about social, political, economic or environmental change.”. That makes sense. Like Martin Luther King (social), akina Dedan Kimathi (political), or Wangari Maathai (environmental).

A book I gotta read: Wangari Maathai

Hmm… So where do I lie? I like social change. But wait, what is it that I do? I like what the vision for a certain organisation says:

“A Just and Egalitarian East Africa where all persons enjoy their rights and live in dignity.”

I wish to break that down.

Just: fair: free from favoritism or self-interest or bias or deception; conforming with established standards or rules

Egalitarian: classless: favoring social equality; “a classless society”

Rights: Rights are variously construed as legal, social, or moral freedoms to act or refrain from acting, or entitlements to be acted upon or not acted upon.

Dignity: the quality of being worthy of esteem or respect

I like this! There is still a whole spectrum of things to learn about and this is kinda like my passion. I love humanity. I think am an activist in one way or another. But I nowadays refrain from calling myself one. Maybe someday it will be clear. There is still time. I also think I’m a humanitarian. But that is a topic for another day.

Great day lovelies!

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Why is Africa so Homophobic?

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For about a week or two I have been at loggerheads with myself about why I have not been writing and updating my blog and some of the things that came to mind was why on earth I started the blog itself in the first place when I cannot even make a coherent relevant interesting post, not even once! A while back I could write a post a day. Now I find it hard. Not that there isn’t anything to write about but just the mere fact that the time to do so is not enough and maybe even the zeal to do so. And its not like I cannot write, its not like I don’t have the ideas…you know what? You get the drift. Now back to my question.

Why is Africa and africans so homophobic? What is our problem? Is it that we do not understand what homophobia is? Is it that we do not understand what homosexuality is? Are we really that myopic or are we deliberately ignorant? What ails us? Mind you, I will not go about putting links and definitions here about what I have read, what I have seen and all the posts I have been looking at. I will just ramble on at this because It has been poking at me for a while. But then again. I believe it is important I do so where I can.

Recently, Malawi sentenced a “gay” couple to 14 years in jail. Why do I say “gay”? Because if you read carefully the correct stories and the judgement itself, you will realise that Tiwonge is indeed transgender and not gay. Thus, she identifies as a woman! Fine, the point here isn’t her trans identity, rather it is the fact that they were jailed for loving one another. If my memory serves me right, (I am being lazy) they were charged with “acts of gross indecency”. My question is, if that was indeed gross indecency, shouldnt it have been the big crowd invited to the engagement ceremony that would have gone to court and complain about being shown yuky stuff in public? If it was indeed indecent, then who are the ones who felt disgusted? How come they had so many guests? In the end, it was a sad and wrong move that the Malawian courts made and surely that sentence will haunt them for days to come. What is my view on this?

Love is an interesting thing we have. It is an emotion as well as a virtue. These people were not accorded love by anyone. I wonder how Jesus feels like at that moment. These are two people who love each other. They were jailed using an archaic law that goes against the most basic human rights principles that even the Malawian constitution claims to uphold. Therefore, if the constitution says they have been accorded rights and they have now been jailed, aren’t we treating them as less human? It is very sad.

Neighboring Uganda has been considering a piece of legislation that will ensure that I cannot write about homosexuals in Uganda and if I am found I will be jailed for 7 years. My HIV positive gay Ugandan friend cannot be seen in public with me because if for any reason I want to wipe a spec of dust from his cheek then I am jailed for life and he is executed since he is positive and gay! Talk about retroactive steps! My! When I saw the bill, I couldn’t believe my eyes! And then I watched this youtube video and it further opened my eyes. It is a dangerous piece of legislation that will end up hurting the whole of Uganda rather than the targeted group. My view?

With all honesty, how does two people enjoying each others company affect me? Lies have been spread that if we allow homosexual people in the world we will all die. Seriously? As in do you hear that statement? We will all die? Jeez! Its not even possible statistically!

Last but not least, the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya on May 17th celebrated IDAHO as I stated here. This week, I heard rumours that the Inter Religious Forum was suing the National Museums of Kenya for hosting the event in what they called “allowing the commission of acts of gross indecency in a public space”. So I beg to question. Here was a genuine celebration by two genuine and legal NGOs with guests coming from all sectors of the society; rich, gay, poor, lesbian, high society, straight, yuppies, bisexual…i mean, the guests were diverse and vast. The media was even there, the international representatives were there. I mean, can I even start thinking about the sillyness of that statement? Aren’t gays, lesbians, transgender and intersex people PEOPLE? Aren’t they taxpayers? And since when was it a crime to congregate? I am at a loss of words!

I never wanted to do a lengthy post but all these things triggered my somewhat angry mood this week and I just had to vent it all out.

Some day, we will be able to understand the human rights concept. Someday.

Somehow. But, is it this>>

May 17th is IDAHO

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The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) is celebrated every May 17 around the world.

It is coordinated by the Paris based “IDAHO Committee” founded and presided by French academics, Louis-Georges Tin. It is celebrated in more than 50 countries in the world, and recognised officially by the European Union, Belgium, United Kingdom, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Mexico, Costa-Rica, etc.

The international day against homophobia aims to coordinate international events to call respect for lesbians and gays worldwide. Unlike theLGBT Pride Day, which is meant to emphasise proudness of one’s sexuality and refusal to be ashamed of it, IDAHO is held to highlight:

“… that in reality it is homophobia that is shameful and must be deconstructed in its social logic and fought against openly.”

May 17 was chosen as the day of the event because homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 17, 1990.[3]

(Source: Wikipedia)

Today marks an important day in the calendars of the LGBTI community and other supportive mainstream human rights organisations and movements. It is a day, as stated in the above text, set aside for all LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual and Intersex) persons to stand in solidarity against homophobia and transphobia.

Here in Kenya, the day is being commemorated by KHRC (Kenya Human Rights Commission), the one led by L.Muthoni Wanyeki and GALCK (Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya). I think there is something about it on their websites. This year, Kenya is paying particular focus on Transgender and Transphobia. There is also a newspaper Feature by The Standard on today’s paper. Sadly, thanks to useless website they have, I can’t find a link.

Kenyans know little about this day and its events and more-so the reason why it is commemorated. I do not intend to make a lengthy post about it but I would like to highlight a few things to note.

First, we remember the debacle that happened in Mtwapa in the recent past. That was outright homophobia in action. But first, lets see these two words in definition (Wikipedia).

Homophobia: Homophobia is a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexuality and people identified or perceived as being homosexual. Definitions refer variably to antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, and irrational fear. Homophobia is observable in critical and hostile behavior such asdiscrimination and violence on the basis of a non-heterosexual orientation. In a 1998 address, author, activist, and civil rights leader Coretta Scott Kingstated that “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.”

Transphobia: Transphobia (or less commonly, transprejudice and trans-misogyny, the latter referring to transphobia directed toward transwomen) refers to discrimination against transsexualism and transsexual or transgender people, based on the expression of their internal gender identity (see Phobia – terms indicating prejudice or class discrimination). Whether intentional or not, transphobia can have severe consequences for the target of the negative attitude. Many transpeople also experience homophobia from people who incorrectly associate their gender identity with homosexuality. Attacking someone on the basis of a perception of their gender identity rather the perception of their sexual orientation is known as “trans-bashing,” as opposed to “gay bashing.”

What happened in Mtwapa was indeed homophobia, based on religious fundamentalism and extremism. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has a right to religion but the most basic right of all is the one found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I mentioned it here. It is clear that none should infringe on these basic rights, which include freedom of conscience and right to privacy. These are but some of the rights that sexual minorities (the general term used to describe minority groups marginalized on a sexual basis, including sex workers) are not accorded to and further more are infringed upon by society.

It is my wish that, as this day is marked and passes, that we as Kenyans and more so as human beings, can reach into our human core and say NO TO HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA. This cause is important and it is imperative that we all understand why every human being should be free from such acts of human rights violations.

And with that, I rest my case. I have been lax on writing about human rights and my activism but I hope I shed more light on this aspect of our lives as time goes by.

Thank you for reading and for supporting. I am very happy to interact with such wonderful persons such as YOU GUYS!!!

XOXO!

Why Human Rights?

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As my post title goes, I often seem to ask myself that question. Why human rights? Why all the emphasis? And why should it be a problem to us?

Well, simple. Because we are human. Period.


We are all human beings. The declaration of human rights puts it quite clearly…

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and all human rights are universal, interdependent, indivisible, and interrelated”

Its clear cut and very easy to understand if you ask me. As in, we are all equal. All of us. There is no chagua chagua.

There is no “some are more equal than others” unless you’re a politician in Kenya, or wish to be one because thats never it. It never will be either.

I can only say why I call myself a human rights defender/activist. I do it because first of all, I am human and I respect humanity. On my facebook page, my description goes…

“Extremely open-minded, unique, distinct, lovingly lovable, believes in the power of Peace Love Unity and Respect, ardent human rights activist & defender, friend, sociable, and intrepid! A bundle of simplistic class & creativity!”

That description already covers my love for humanity and my belief in PLUR. I am passionate about human rights especially so because its imperative that some voice be heard. There aren’t too many young voices out there making enough noise about it and I want to be one of the few that will raise theirs. I want to see change in our society.

Too many evils are going on in our society. Most of it is because of blantant disrespect for human beings in general. We don’t respect each other. That is one of my major concerns. But the one thing that really gets me going is my faith and belief in LOVE. I hold those infamous two greatest commandments by Jesus in high regard because I believe they hold the key to having good relationships with one another. They are the best way to live. Follow these two and trust me, you will have a fulfilling life. Here they are.

1.Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength.
2.Love your neighbour as you love yourself.

Another bit of scripture that I go back to constantly is 1st Corinthians 13, the one about love. Here it is.

“4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

In essence, you get my point. For me, its mostly about loove. I love people. I love people regardless. Fine, I don’t like bad behaviour, but I truly believe that people aren’t meant to be bad. Call me naïve but thats the way I feel.

Love someone this week!

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