"Now," asked the professor, "what happens when the tube becomes narrower?"
Every weekend of my life, I had driven from Montreal to the Laurentians. I knew exactly what happened when a heavily traveled road narrowed -- a traffic jam ensued.
My hand shot up. So did others'. The prof picked someone near me.
"The fluid speeds up," she said.
What? I thought. And as our prof explained the forces and motion, it made perfect sense. Squeeze a hose and the water spray speeds up. Of course!*
Lessons learned: What I thought I knew was the exact opposite of what happened. Pay attention, I thought, things don't necessarily work the way you think they do. Oh. And shut up from time to time. You may learn something.
Then I read this today. I became so angry I could spit. Three American evangelical Christians went to Uganda to preach the dangers of homosexuality at a conference, fired up the participants, and now a law is winding its way through the Ugandan parliament proposing death sentences for homosexuals.**
What these so-called men of God failed to consider was that they were adding gasoline to a fire and squeezing the blasted hose! Societal homophobia is virulent in Uganda. It doesn't need the out-of-reality rhetoric from the U.S. culture wars to fan it along. Over the course of three days they told leaders that their kids were at risk, their families would be destroyed, that they were at war -- in a country that knows the atrocities of war only too well. What the heck did they think would happen?
They are apologetic, these men. "I didn't know. . ." "I didn't mean. . ." And the absolute worst, "Some of the nicest people I know are gay. . ." Then why on earth were they there to start with, talking trash about gays?
And beyond the ugly hate speech they glibly preached, why did they preach to folks without understanding to whom they were preaching?
Okay. This is a friendly crowd, guys. Did you spend even a microsecond thinking about Ugandan culture? I'm talking about your friends. The gay-bashers. The folks you like. Did you have so much as an inkling of how your incendiary slanders sounded to them? Did you consider that they might not have been weaned on U.S. televangelists and might have a different take on your rhetoric?
"I didn't know. . ." "I didn't mean. . ."
You squeezed the hose. You fanned the fire in an explosive way. The real world doesn't run the way you see it in your heads. Go out and take a look at it. Really take a look at it.
Oh, and shut the @#$% up, while you're at it.
* Why not cars? Because they're not a fluid. When they bump into each other, an accident occurs bringing everything to a standstill.
** Although after the international outcry and the possible risk to multiple millions of dollars in aid, there's a proposed amendment to change the sentence to life imprisonment.