The Logic of Caring: The Case of Dr. Brendan Bain

| May 29, 2014 | 0 Comments

 

“Did you know he was one of the first doctors to treat HIV patients in Jamaica?”

“No I did not know that.” I said, but added: “There is a logic to caring. You can’t care for your patients and support laws that cause their suffering.”

This was the endnote to a conversation between my sister and I. She is a Christian. I am a backslider and a homosexual.

She let me have the last word, which was unusual. She is a thinker and prays daily for wisdom. It usually comes in quick insightful retorts. This morning there was none.

It was the silence of dilemma.

For those who don’t know, let me re-cap the background to this sibling exchange. Dr. Bain, a Christian, has recently been dismissed by the University of the West Indies as the head of the CHART Program – a program designed to support persons infected and affected by HIV. His dismissal came in the wake of protests from 35 regional groups after he offered testimony in a court case in Belize supporting the retention of the buggery laws there. Among other things this colonial era law criminalizes sex between gay men in the privacy of their homes. A similar law in Jamaica is considered one of the key factors that drive the high incidences of HIV infection among gay men in Jamaica.

With the new information offered by my sister, I can concede that the Dr. Bain did care for the suffering of the people he served. His care however stopped short where his dogma ran afoul of his heart.

This is indeed the difficult reconciliation that Christians in Jamaica and around the world are grappling with, and doing so publicly in intellectually dishonest ways. They are painting themselves as victims, blaming others for infringing their right to free speech and having no compassion for their true dilemma.

Compassion and dogma have always clashed. For the demonstration of this and how it is to be reconciled take a look at Jesus. He sat with prostitutes, he turned water into wine and said, he who is without sin cast the first stone. He went up against the Pharisees of his day.

His love was all about courage.

I remember when I had just returned to Jamaica, from Law School in Barbados after “coming out” there. I was 23 years old. The Christians in my class had been the first to announce to the world that I was a battyman. They made my small world in Jamaica even smaller. Yet it was another Christian woman named Gene Denham who sat with me in the midst of my own dilemma. Gene had watched me grow up at Calabar High School to become the head of the Inter Schools Christian Fellowship. She was the ISCF staff person. We went to the same church, Open Bible Church, on Washington Boulevard. We lead the youth Chorale together. Yet when we saw each other over lunch on my return, she simply asked how are you doing?  I did not answer completely. She did not press me. There were no sermons. She simply kept my company. She died years later. I now wished we had spoken more deeply. She seemed more concerned about her own journey and keeping peace with her soul. I can’t imagine her picking up placards and taping her mouth shut. She would have been found on her knees in high prayer.

There is a logic to caring that will take one to new places. The place gay people seek, or let me say, this gay man seeks, is an open field where we are all free to have your opinions and dogma, yet in all that do no harm to others as we each make our way in this world.

Professor Bain through his testimony harmed the people he cared so much about. This was not as much a professional failure as it was a personal failure of courage.

Courage is what it will take to cross the river when your dogma and your heart collide; when you cross over you BECOME Love. Here, there can only be a deep listening for what is right. Usually what is right comes without sermonizing, and the change first happens IN you.

 

Olubode Shawn Brown

New York City

May 28th, 2014

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olubode

About the Author ()

Olubode was born in Kingston Jamaica. In 1984 he migrated to the United States. He has lived and worked in New York City and Los Angles as an attorney, business manager and life coach. He is the facilitator of The Essential Journey, a professional photographer and the founder of BLOOM Magazine and The BLOOM Party. Websites: theessentialjourney.com thebloomparty.com bloommediaphotography.com

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