The meek shall inherit the earth. But $4 million is a lot of money, isn’t it? You can be meek and rich, right?
It is a case set to run further than any of Folau’s incisive breaks, so I thought I’d get involved. I’ve relented up until now. One glib, well-received tweet, which I subsequently deleted, is about all I’ve dared say. In truth, it’s a horrible situation, one that the world finds a brilliant ability to serve up of late. I’ve read a fair amount about it. Difficult not to. I’ve ventured via a Facebook friend to the far side of the dale, read what righteous Christians have had to say about horrible Raelene Castle stopping dearest, God-loving Folau from ever playing footie again. I’ve heard both sides. In the weeks to come, we will hear all sides. And yet, no one will win: not Folau; certainly not his employers; not the LGBT community; nor Rugby. Sheesh, there are few as sanctimonious as Rugby. Have you seen the way we talk to our referees? Gay ones, too; we thought we’d come so far.
During the forthcoming legal wranglings (between Folau and Rugby Australia), the complexities of state and national legislation, some without precedent, will come under scrutiny. Religion and the law are regular and unhappy bedfellows: the literal application of words uttered by a metaphorical being written down in a huge, contradictory tome by authors unknown. Great, should be a cinch. One thing is for sure, the queue of lawyers keen to take Folau’s instruction is long and full of the qualities listed on his now infamous tweet. Lawyers should have made the team; they’ll be gutted. Slide them in between fornicators and thieves, Israel.
Meanwhile, in Britain, a subplot has been secreted. Big Billy Vunipola stuck his hand up and joined in; Saracens, a team not short of reasons people don’t like them, now had one more. The club moved quickly to deal with it. And even though we aren’t quite sure how they dealt with it, they dealt with it, ok? But it wasn’t quite dealt with, yet. A European Champions Cup semi-final versus Munster would have to be negotiated and, of course, Saracens would somehow be stronger through vilification, and Billy would be booed and then he’d score a try and someone in a Munster shirt would come on the pitch and start pointing fingers, mostly because of Billy’s beliefs but also, a little, because Saracens are so damn annoying. And Billy would be made Man of the Match, when really he was just the man the media wanted to hear from, and he’d get his chance to speak and double down on the fact that ‘he is who he is’ and we’d all get angry again because we’re not quite sure if we hate Billy talking about his beliefs or we hate him for his beliefs.
And this where I’m really at. Why are we booing Billy? Because he articulated how he felt? Because he was daft enough to admit he had also been given the same Christian ideas as someone else? We would not be booing him if he hadn’t made that Instagram post and yet he’d still feel the same way. What about his brother Mako? How do we feel about him as, more than likely, he shares exactly the same views as Billy? And where does this stop? Billy and Israel can’t really help thinking the way they do. Given their upbringing, how they’ve been told what to believe, the way family plays a role in their life: they are what they are through no real fault of their own. As Gareth Thomas said so correctly and articulately yesterday, their view is uneducated. It lacks an understanding of what it is to be homosexual. And yet, here we are, lacking the understanding of what it means to be a Polynesian Christian.
If we really are as inclusive as we say we are, we need to try and include the Israels and Billys. I appreciate how difficult that is considering the crazy, outdated ideas they hold, but we need to bring them in so we can show just how wrong they are. Show them how damaging and how unnecessary their archaic views are in a modern, sensible, free society. But we won’t do that by booing or banning them. Christianity has you covered there. They’ll come up with all sorts of after-life promises to comfort the persecuted. It’s kinda their whole game plan. Like Saracens, they will only get stronger the more you hate them.
Say you don’t care what they think. Yours is a world that lives for now, not later. And it’s a world bigger and broader than theirs. It is for everyone being accepted and appreciated right now. Wherever you’ve come from, whoever you love, whatever your thoughts, we are all just the same, trying to get to the end being as kind and respectful as we can. It’s the only way forward. Arguing over righteousness has never worked. Because, ultimately, it is so utterly pointless; we will all end up dead, wishing we’d not spent so much time arguing.