Memorial Day, Remember Peace

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“May God have mercy for my enemies because I won’t.”
― George S. Patton Jr.

 

I grew up in a family full of men in the service. A grandfather, three brothers, three uncles and at least one cousin served in the military. They served during peace time as well as wartime. None of them died in the service, but my grandfather was left for dead after being gassed in WWI. His Brother William died during the war due to the influenza outbreak. My wife’s great Uncle also served. I have also known many others who have served so willingly in our nation’s armed forces. I can’t count how many, but I do enjoy listening to them all.

I remember one person talking about riding in a tank in France during WWII and peeking out of the top to get a better view. He had his helmet shot off and never peeked out again. Another person I knew about the same time had a lot of cuss words for those in tanks because they drew the gun fire in their direction. Then there were others who just couldn’t talk about anything that happened. It was just too hard for them to do so.

I remember one of the stories of my grandfather while he was in France. He was out scouting the enemy and along a river he saw a German soldier getting a drink from the stream. The German soldier didn’t see my grandfather until he looked up and knew he was a goner. Yet my grandfather did not shoot. He waved to the German soldier and walked on. The German soldier repaid the kindness by walking in the other direction.

When I was growing up one of those brothers got me some army men and I played with them for hours on end. I read many, many books on WWII, the Civil war and the Revolutionary war. I really enjoyed reading the history of wars. I loved the strategy and even the ironic or funny things that happen during war. Did you know that the first British ship sunk in WWII was sunk by the British? There is some useless trivia for you.   I thought war could be so glorious. I looked up to the heroes of the wars. The leaders like Washington, Patton, Grant, etc…

Today I really want the end to war. There is no glory in war. My grandfather had no arguments with the Germans. It was the governments that couldn’t get along. I have no qualms with Muslims. I don’t want to fight them and for the most part, they don’t want to fight me. I don’t want to fight the Russians, or the Chinese, or the people in Somalia. There is no one in this world I want to fight, but unfortunately there are some that think fighting is the answer and against those we most likely will have to fight against.

Bertrand Russell once said, “War does not determine who is right – only who is left.” War is not the answer to this world’s problems and solves little. John Steinbeck also said “All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.” I feel it is just the playground bully on the world’s stage. Nobody stood up to them before so now we have to stand up to him with tanks and bombs.  I hope there is never war again.  I don’t want anyone else dying for my freedom, but I am not that optimistic when I look around the world, or even down the street.  There are just too many people who think that fighting is the way to get their way.

So, until there is no war, I’m glad we have men and women serving us across the world. I’m also glad that we have men and women who have fought for our freedom through the centuries. Those that have fought for freedom around the world and stand up against those world bullies that think fighting is something that OK. Thank you to all those out there who have sacrificed their time, energy and lives to doing what has to be done no matter how difficult it can be. May your lives be filled with peace and love.

“Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one”

John Lennon

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My hand at Bible Translating

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There are so many versions or translations of the Bible out there that it is often hard to really know if one is any better than the next. I once counted mine and I had around 25 different versions in my house.  Each version or translation tries to bring into modern language what the Bible writers were trying to say. So each Bible has bias, good or bad, of the person or people translating it. What they understand and believe will come across in how it is translated. I could not come up with an exact number of translations there are but several sites said there were thousands. So we have thousands of people trying to tell us what they think the Bible writers were trying to tell us when actually they weren’t talking to us at all. They were talking to someone of their day.

What we have to discover is what they said in their time and see if any of it fits into our time. Lately I have been toying with that and have tried to make a few verses more real to people. Some have liked it and some not, but here are a few of what I have tried.

So with the idea of bringing the Bible to modern language, I gave my attempt at a few of the more famous scriptures.

 

When our time began God created the Big Bang. Genesis 1:1

Love mom and dad, so that you may have a good life wherever you live. Exodus 20:12

Jesus told him, “I am the path, the realness, and the full life. No one can come to the Father except doing what I have taught you.” John 14:6

There is neither American nor Russian, neither citizen nor alien, nor is there male and female, nor is there homosexual or straight for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3;28

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and the second is this, Love that dude that cut you off this morning, don’t complain about that bum begging for money, don’t put down that person with different political or religious views, and for Christ sake, don’t be mean on facebook!  Mark 12:30-31

Go and make followers of God, baptize them in the name of God, and teach them to love one another like I loved you and not to follow what church laws you grow up with just because that’s the way you’ve always done it. If you do this, my spirit will be with you always. Matthew 28:19 &20

 For by grace you have been saved through faith; it is the gift of God, and not by following all the rules of the church or what you think everyone ought to do, so stop telling everyone how righteous you are. Ephesians 2:8 & 9

The price of sin is a horrible and lonely life, but the gift of God is a rich spiritual life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

For all have messed up, and remember that includes you and fallen short of what God intended. Romans 3:23

Do not give your opinion about what others are doing, and others won’t go around talking about what you are doing. Do not attack others, and you will not be attacked. Instead forgive and show mercy to those that talk about you and attack you, and you will be forgiven as well. Luke 6:37

Hey everyone, love each other, because love begins from God. Everyone who loves, understands God and truly knows God. Those that say God hates others, or is mean to another in God’s name or is unfair to others using God’s word has no clue, because if God is anything God is LOVE! 1 John 4:7-8

 

So what do you think? Did I miss the mark completely or was I close? Feel free to give it a try for yourself. After all it’s all about trying to understand the authors meaning or meanings the best we can so we can live it today.

Here is a list of the translations available if you are interested. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_Bible_translations

Crazy Life, Crazy Love

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People say I’m crazy doing what I’m doing,
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin,
When I say that I’m o.k. they look at me kind of strange,
Surely you’re not happy now you no longer play the game,

John Lennon

 

Nope, I no longer play the game. I don’t want to play the game. The rules suck and I want no part of it. If I could overturn some tables I would. I’m not crazy; I’m just not going to follow traditions to make everyone happy. Just like someone I admire and most of you do to.

Mark 3:21 and 22 When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him home with them. “He’s out of his mind,” they said. But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.”

These verses make me think about what some family and many religious people think of me. That I’m crazy or out of my mind that I have changed my beliefs from what I grew up with. According to Mark, I’m in good company. Even the family of Jesus thought that he was a lunatic and we follow what he taught 2000 years later. Now that’s crazy! Those that knew the law (their holy words) thought he was possessed and yet now the words of Jesus are the holy words. Maybe that is crazier!   Guess the religious know it alls didn’t quite know it all.

I think often it is a lot of misunderstanding. I’m misunderstood because my family lives so far away and don’t know me like they think they do. They see through a cloudy window filled with visions of what they remember me as. But that window has been fading for 20 years.

You see today, all I want is to stand up for the helpless, hurting, oppressed, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, help the homeless, clothe the naked, help the prisoner etc.. What I got from religious people is “they are sinning”,” they want to be like that”, “they live in a scary part of town”,” and they are the wrong color”, etc.. etc… I guess my question to them would be “what is Christianity?”

Is it a set of beliefs and like thinking and looking people or is it how we treat one another? When I look at Jesus and his teachings, he doesn’t discriminate against the Samaritans. Those people who married the wrong person and worship at that other place of worship is basically how they were seen in Jesus’ day. They were hated much like an illegal alien who was homosexual would be hated by religious people today. Samaritans were not welcomed in the homeland and they loved the wrong person.

But I want to be like Jesus, so I welcome these people. I make them know that Jesus is for them and that they are loved. Is that crazy or what? I bet that is what the Samaritan woman at the well thought. Crazy that someone like him actually talks to me. That just doesn’t happen. The woman caught in adultery probably thought,” thank God, someone actually cares.”

A few verses after this Jesus asks, Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he looked at those around him and said, “These are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (33-35) So get this. The real Christian family is the ones who follow God’s will of loving, self sacrifice, acceptance, kindness etc… are the real family members. They are the ones the religious leaders and those that follow the religious leaders think are crazy.

I like this quote by R.C.Sproul . He said “Was Luther crazy? Perhaps. But if he was, our prayer is that God would send to this earth an epidemic of such insanity.”  Like Jesus and like many reformers Luther had to be different (crazy) to change the world.

So let’s get crazy and make a difference. Drop traditions, drop the my way or the hellway, drop your stones and learn to accept and love people unconditionally as Jesus did. Let’s go CRAZY!

Post Traumatic Church Disorder

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When I told you I was strong, and would not let someone break me, I didn’t mean it as a challenge…
Kat Church

I had never heard of Post Traumatic Church Disorder until recently, although I had often described my feelings about church as a kind of post traumatic stress disorder. I have since read several articles on the subject. Mostly they are from people who have gone through it or are continuing to go through it.

I am one of those people who are going through it. It was about a year ago that I told the church board that I was resigning my position as youth and children’s pastor. I simply told them that I needed a break, though I did not go into details about why. My wife and I simply wanted to walk away and not leave hurt feelings behind, but somehow that did not happen.

That last day I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I wanted to find freedom from religion. I wanted to begin to heal, but I wanted nothing to do with church. I still loved God, but could care less if I stepped into a church building ever again. Some people thought I lost my faith. In a sense they were right. I did lose my faith in the church, but never in God and not in all of God’s followers.

I still struggle with church. I want to be involved with people who reach out to others, yet I expect them all to hurt me. I long for a church that is deeply loving, but I expect that to be on the surface only. Whenever something good happens, I expect something bad to happen. At times I’m even afraid to share what I think about a subject because I’m afraid of getting shot down, simply because I don’t agree with the majority perspective.

I also thought that I’d be safe being myself on facebook, but I was wrong there. “Christians” (and I use that word loosely here) like those at the churches I’d been at seemed to flock to some things I’d post just to make sure I knew I was going to hell simply because I didn’t still believe exactly like they did.

Seldom, whether on facebook or at church do these types of Christians use love, instead they choose to condemn something or someone. Sad that they can’t see how UnChristlike that is and how it hurts so many people. But of course those people who are hurt like me are the problem. We have lost our faith (don’t believe the exact same as they do), we caused the problem (even though in our case we didn’t cause people to ignore us in a time of need), we are the mean ones (because we think people should be nice), we are the ones that won’t listen (because we think it’s OK to disagree or have another view).

I don’t know what it will take for these types of “Christians” to realize what they do, but I can’t help them. All I can do is take care of myself.

Recovery from hurt takes a long time. Especially when it comes from those that you care about and expect more out of. I guess I expected too much out of the church and those that claim to follow Christ. I wonder if I should lower my expectations, but I don’t think so, instead I need to be the Christ I want the world to see. The real Christ. The one of love and acceptance that he was and is and will always be. The only problem with that is that Jesus wasn’t accepted by the religious people and if I’m like him then they will simply continue to attack me.

Sometimes I wonder if he was actually happy to be nailed to the cross. Maybe that was easier than putting up with the religious “do it only our way” people of his day. That is the same type of people that “crucify” people today.

Someday I’ll be beyond these hurts, but it will take a while. So be patient as I try learning to trust again.

 

For those dealing with PTCD there are groups on Facebook designed to help you.  Just type in Post traumatic church disorder and you should find it.  Hope you can heal and heal soon.

 

Here are some articles on Post traumatic Church disorder. Google it and you’ll find a lot more, Maybe it’s becoming an epidemic.
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/14/my-take-5-ways-to-survive-post-traumatic-church-syndrome/
http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/christian-trends/is-post-traumatic-church-syndrome-real.html
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2014/03/its-called-post-traumatic-church-syndrome-and-yes-its-real/

Answering the Gay Question Part 1

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Many people know that I support marriage equality, but many do not know why I could believe that to be OK.  When this issue comes up, especially on Facebook, all I get is scripture quotes.  I don’t get the feeling many people want to listen to anything different than what they grew up with.  I want people to know I did not take this change lightly.  Sure, my wife did have something to do with it because we discussed it for years.  I would share what I found studying the Bible and theological books and she would share things people shared with her (because everyone seems to share things with her) and things she found in books. Ultimately I am responsible for what I believe and no one else, just like you are responsible for what you believe.

“I believe what the Bible says about homosexuality.”  I’ve heard that so much in the last few years. However, I don’t believe the Bible clearly says that homosexuality is a sin.  In fact it barely if at all discusses homosexual relationships.  How can I say that being a pastor? Actually, I find it pretty easy today, but just a few years ago I would have had a different view point.  Change in my beliefs did not happen overnight.  It was through a lot of study and learning that I came to my conclusion.  I hope that you as the reader will consider what I have to say and make your own educated decision.  Please look up the verses, read books etc… but maybe most importantly, talk to a homosexual and learn about them.  They aren’t really much different from you.

They want to be loved and to love.  They want to go to church and serve God.  They want to be treated with respect.  They want to be a family and live in peace, go to work or school and hang out with friends.

A few years ago, my eyes were opened to the homosexuality issue.  Up until then, I really had not thought about it much.  My eyes were opened, not by the church, not by my wife, not by the Bible, but by a person.  This person happened to be a homosexual.  Up until this time I believed only what I had been told from my youth.  Homosexuality is a sin and homosexuals will burn in hell.  After all that is what the Bible says.

Though I did not talk in detail about homosexuality, this person really tried to follow Jesus.  They loved God but felt they were screwed because they would be rejected by the church and according to the church, by God.

This did not seem right to me.  How could someone who really wanted to love God and follow the Bible have no chance to make it to heaven?  You might say that they did have a chance.  That is that they needed to repent.  But repent from what?  Their actions were more Christlike than many “Christians” I’d known over many years.  They had a great compassion for people.  Most Christians I’ve met, especially in the past ten years, really only cared about themselves, and what the church could do for them.

So I started doing some research.  What does the Bible really say about homosexuality?  Have we really been taught the truth or are we missing something?  I got out my Greek and Hebrew Bibles and grabbed every book that I could find on the subject.  Wow, there are some differences of opinions, but you probably knew that.  Even on the same sides, people have discrepancies.  But the following is the basics of what I discovered.  Unless otherwise specified I will use the NIV translation.

Some of these verses we don’t need the Greek and Hebrew; we just need to take them in context.

Leviticus: 18; 22 “‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”  Taken by itself it could be very damaging.  However we often neglect to read the verses around it.  Verse 21 states “”‘do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.”  In other words the “sin” of lying with a man is connected with the temple worship of those who worship Molech.  It is not about personal relationships, as the first 20 verses of that chapter.  The next few verses after verse 22 seems to be connected too.  So to me this verse is and has been taken out of its context.  It’s not about relationships but prostitution at the shrines of Molech.

Leviticus 20 is all about the punishments for the crimes.  Previously the writer of Leviticus has described crimes and now he lists the punishment.  Verse 9 – if anyone curses his parents, DEATH, Verse 10 – adultery is DEATH.  Then as you continue through the chapter you find out that sex with mom is death, and sex with daughter in law is death, sex with an animal, death, sex with sister, death.   Then Stuck in the middle of these is verse 13.  “‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman,” Death.  So I’m not sure that we can take this into consideration without looking at the other verses about homosexuality.  In the Old Testament there are none that specifically mention homosexuality except the above mentioned verse and a few in the books of Kings that specifically mention temple prostitution.

1 Kings 14:24 And there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations that the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. (ESV)

1 Kings 15:12 He put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. (ESV)

2 Kings 23:7 He also tore down the living quarters of the male and female shrine prostitutes that were inside the Temple of the LORD, where the women wove coverings for the Asherah pole. (NLT)

According to many scholars, Leviticus would have been written sometime after the books of Kings so quite possibly the author of Leviticus could easily have been referring to this type of action rather than two people simply having a relationship.

So as far as the Old Testament, I find very little that directly relates to homosexuality outside of cult prostitutes.  We don’t have temple prostitutes today so this is not an issue for us to worry about.

In my next blog I will discuss the Romans 1 and what I have discovered has or does not have to do with homosexuality.

Also if you want my thoughts on Sodom and Gomorrah and Judges 19 you’ll have to read my blog, “Rethinking Sodom”  https://hadespotos.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/rethinking-sodom/

This subject is going be at least 4 blog posts (maybe more) and I’m sure I won’t touch everything I have discovered. so please keep coming back.  I typically post every Sunday and Wednesday.

Feeling Trashed

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Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?

Confucius

It’s been about four years since one family member stopped talking to my wife and me.  At that point we asked what we did wrong and we were told that we knew.  Umm, NO WE DID NOT!  Sigh.  That’s why we were asking.  Of course that really seemed to be a way to say “I’m not talking about what the problem really was”.  I send them friend requests, birthday greeting etc… but without response.  I am still hoping they will respond someday.  Once their entire family came to the town where I live and everyone but that person came to see me.  This made me feel like trash.

Recently another family member got ticked off at us when we came out of the closet in support of gay rights.  Never did any family member ask us why.  In fact this is really the only member that talked to us about it and all they did was quote Leviticus 18:22 and say “it’s a sin.”  When I tried to explain my thoughts and what the Bible said through the Hebrew, Greek and its original time period, I was told that I didn’t listen.  (Sigh).  And now we have been cut out and tossed aside by yet another.

This past week a family came to my school.  I work with special needs kids.  The students we have are the students that the general school districts can’t deal with.  This family has had two children in our program.  The mother is in her 40’s, dying and now in a wheel chair as this disease slowly takes her away.  When the mom and dad came into the school she motioned to me and slowly asked me to go get her son and do it quietly.  So I went to his room and got him without telling the teacher.  The reason was that they had roses to give to the teacher and they wanted it to be a surprise.  That’s the kind of family they are.  They truly love everyone.  They have support from both sides of the family as they take care of their farm, two kids, and everything else that goes along with what they are going through.

I wish my family was more like that.  I wish my family took family more serious.  I wish they cared about me.  They aren’t the only ones but they are the ones that most affect me. I don’t know what it will take for my family to get anywhere near this point.  I’m guessing it will never happen.  My grandmother spent 50 years not talking to her daughter because my aunt married the wrong guy.  By the way my uncle and my aunt were married for 50 years.  Guess grandma didn’t know everything.

That’s the thing.  Others don’t know how you or I feel or why you or I do things if they don’t take time to ask and REALLY listen.  Instead they have just thrown us into the trash.  They make us feel totally that we are worthless to them and they don’t seem to care one iota.  The second sibling above even posted on my facebook page how wonderful it was to be able to block people from his life.  This bragging (at least it came across as bragging) came shortly after blocking my wife and right before unfriending me. I can find no other reason for writing that other than they wanted to hurt me. They did what they wanted.  That hurt me a lot!  But when I confronted them, they again said they did nothing wrong.  And again I felt like I was tossed out like all the other refuse they had tossed to the trash.

Why is it that people don’t talk out their problems?  Why don’t people care about family?  Why do people just want to hurt others?  I will probably never know.  I really doubt that either of them will ever tell me.  I doubt I’ll ever hear from them again except at funerals.  Then again I doubt they’ll speak to me then.  Wonder if they will even acknowledge my presence?  Would they come to my funeral?  Would they even care?  I’m sure they wouldn’t come to my wife’s funeral.  They made it plain with their actions as well as words that they both hate her.  Again I have absolutely no idea why they would hate such a loving person.  And if they don’t come that’s ok.  I’d only want people who actually care to come, but maybe something like that will have to happen to wake them up.  I hope not.

Hopefully those that read this aren’t people tossed in the trash.  If so, remember you are not alone.  Maybe we can lean on one another.

If you’re one that has tossed others in the trash, please figure out what is really important.  And it’s not whatever grudge you’re holding on to.  What matters is family and friends.  It’s love.  It’s caring, kindness, listening and spending time with people.  Hopefully you’ll understand that before it’s too late.

“Strength of character means the ability to overcome resentment against others, to hide hurt feelings, and to forgive quickly.”  Lawrence G. Lovasik

For God So Hates Everyone That Is Different.

God loves 2

Racism is beyond common sense and has no place in our society.
Steven Patrick Morrissey

This month is Black history month and it reminds me of so much prejudice that still goes on in America.  I remember a few years ago, my wife and I took in a biracial child into our home.  Very few people outside the kids at church took time to get to know him.  I’m guessing because he did look African American.  After all the church did reach out to other white kids that we took into our home.  So what made them not reach out to this child?  One board member even told our family that he “needed to be with his own kind.”  It is sad that this still goes on in the world and especially sad it goes on in the church.  The church is supposed to show God’s love to all mankind.

Shortly after Obama was elected president I ran into some prejudice against him.  A family member said, “We brought them over here and now they are taking over.”  What kind of talk is that?  Another relative has said several times that they wished Obama would be killed or commit suicide.  Both of them would both say they are Christian.  Again what kind of talk is that?!  I am not a huge fan of Obama.  I think he’s average at very best.  However, I was raised to love all mankind no matter what they are like, yet some family members reject that ideology.  When I read posts comparing President Obama to Hitler and comments like he’s trying to be a dictator, I wonder what in the world they are thinking.  There has certainly been something that has happened in their lives that has obscured their view of the world.  I know that these thoughts are not simply in my family.  There are many Obama haters and I wonder if it is because he’s not a WHITE conservative.

What is it about others that make us afraid of them?  Differences should be embraced but instead they are rejected and build divisions.  Right?

Coke released an advertisement during the Super Bowl with many different people and languages singing “America the Beautiful” and there was an uproar about that.    Seems to me this was nothing but prejudice.  The quotes I saw were very hateful toward immigrants and yet unless you are a Native American your ancestors were immigrants.  Seems to be fear that these immigrants will take something from us instead of adding to our already rich culture.  Also, I must ask why this is different than the old Coke commercials “I want to teach the world to sing?”

The Olympics are going on in Sochi, Russia.  There has been a long discussion on the problems Russia has had with its laws on homosexuality.  Yet the Olympics are supposed to be about bringing the world together.  How can this world be brought together when it treats one another with such contempt.  In America there is a fight over whether homosexuals should have the right to marry.  Recently there was a gay couple on “Good Luck Charlie” and death threats were sent to the 5 year old who plays the role of “Charlie”.   Closer to home I have had people say that they wished “all homosexuals would die.”  That from a children’s teacher at a church.  I wonder if they taught love or hate to those kids.  Too often very hateful things are said like this, and all too often in the name of God.  No people, God does not hate gays, but just maybe you do.

There is a store in our area that my wife and I call the “scary mart”.  Not because it is scary, but because a member of a church we no longer attend talked about how scared they were to get gas there.  What may have been scarier were all the people who nodded in agreement with them.  I was offended.  Those people are simply poorer than that church.  The same church where another leading member said of the poor “The poor choose to be poor.”  Obviously a division caused by prejudice.  I can say this because my work is less than a mile from that store and I am in contact with the people all the time.  They are not scary, they are nice people.  If they had money like the above people then I guess that would make them ok instead of scary.

Prejudice still runs deep in our society.  Whether it is another race, sex, class, language etc…   We have a long way to go.  If you want to truly leave this world a better place for the next generation than it is you and me that have to change.  To truly start treating each other like we want to be treated.  With love and respect, no matter what our differences are or how right we think we are.  You see, when a person thinks they are right, most likely they are like the people I mentioned above.  They all thought they had it right, they just couldn’t see it from another persons point of view and that is where prejudice begins and ends.  Within us.  Within you.