The Cold Bony Hand of Injustice Touches Us All
Rev. Victoria Weinstein, Unitarian Universalist Association
Published in The Main Line Times, November 12, 1998
I am having one of those phone conversations with my brother. He
is in Manhattan, in thrall to the corporate machine and making like
a type-A advertising executive.
I have called him from my office at church - big sister, liberal
minister, "bleeding heart."
Sometimes it feels as though adulthood has distanced us and I am
wondering if we are still attuned in spirit, if not profession
As we chat, I am preoccupied and soul-sick about a recent crucifixion
in Wyoming, haunted by mental images of a thin male figure brutally
beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die. How will my brother, a
total Guy in all ways and far more conservative than I, join with me
on this issue?
I venture the question, trying for a casual tone. "Hey, how about
that Matthew Shepard thing?" I listen for a response, chewing a fingernail,
hoping to hear something that will bond me in sympathy with my sibling.
His vehemence crackles over the phone lines. "It makes me sick," he
says, "I hate those guys. I swear to God, I just want to kill those
guys. Those scrawny..." And he unloads a stream of creative epithets
and curses on the heads of Matthew's attackers. "Death penalty. Big time.
Death penalty for those guys."
I had not expected this and, while I should disagree on principle with
the violence of this proposed solution, and should counsel my brother
not to respond to hate with hate (not that he would take that from
me; after all, I'm his sister, not his minister or rabbi), I am relieved.
I am even proud. This total Guy has not succumbed to his culture's
rampant homophobia. His outrage is heartening.
While I am thinking this, my brother continues in a different tone.
"It really freaks me out to think of him dying like that, cold and alone
and everything. I mean, the guy was five feet tall. He was tiny. He
had to have been totally scared. It's a terrible death. It's just
terrible. Those bastards."
And with this statement, my brother has named for me the profound evil
at the core of this murder and of all such murders: That any innocent
person leave this life anguished in body and soul, terrified and alone is
I tell him that I think we are responsible, all of of us, for making
amends to those souls through any means possible - prayer, repentance,
acts of social reform, ardent pursuit of liberty and justice for
all regardless of our ideological differences.
He doesn't tell me to cool down, to get off my soapbox. In fact,
I can feel him nodding his accord, this person who doesn't consider
himself very spiritual.
At this season of All Souls, this bewitching time of jack-o-lanterns
and styrofoam skeletons, faux gravestones in the front yard and
aerosol spiderwebs, the cold bony hand of injustice touches us on
the shoulder and bids us beware, beware, and remember, and act on
behalf of those gone too early and too alone to death.
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