Words are great. I love words. I line them up along pages, and screens, and across my eyes when I fall asleep, but sometimes words are only noise, and the most poignant sentence is the one that goes unspoken.
Zea, a brave 7-year-old from Columbus, Ohio didn’t have to say a word when she approached an anti-LGBT preacher at a celebration of our recent Supreme Court ruling to legalize marriage equality. She simply held a rainbow flag in his direction as he solicited his religion as brimstone and hell. Zea preached love without speaking.[sc:shn-ad3]
“This world will give you heartache. This world will give you divorce. This world will give you pain,” bellows the preacher, and still Zea holds the flag. Afterward, her father, Ryan Bowling, said his daughter told him she felt scared during the encounter. But, a scared child who holds her ground is a strong child, and the people at her back never let her feel alone, approaching to give her high-fives.
A local shirt designer, Zachary Traxler, was so inspired by the scene that he designed a t-shirt with a stylized picture of Zea and the preacher facing off. He is selling the shirts online and the proceeds go to Zea and her family to donate to the charity of their choice.
“Zea is clear that she wants it to be used to help LGBT kids have a place that they can be safe,” Bowling said.
To me, this exchange of beliefs is a powerful symbol of #Lovewins. The preacher may be right about this world giving heartache and pain, that much is inevitable, but he forgets, or maybe never knew, that this world will also give you hope if you look and listen for it.
“She is just decent to people because they are people,” Bowling said. “She treats others fairly, because she wants to be treated fairly. That shouldn’t go viral, it should just be who we are to each other.”
It sounds so simple, and yet to so many it is not. In the end, we each have the freedom to live our lives how we please, and we can choose to yell hate, or to quietly radiate love.