You have an opinion that I find deeply offensive.
Yes, you. No, don't look around or behind you for someone else, because I'm talking directly to you. And your opinion is not only offensive in the extreme, but I also find it morally wrong, and harmful to the very foundation of human society. You wrote words on the internet, and they inflamed my righteous indignation. I know you for who you are. You are hateful, intolerant, and you deserve nothing less than the worst existence that this world can heap upon you.
Except that... you don't.
Because I know you. I've done more than read your words on the internet. I've been with you, talked with you face to face. We've shared conversation. We've laughed together, shed tears together. And I've seen you do amazing, wonderful things.
You. The right-wing religious conservative who supported DOMA. I read your words on the internet.
But I saw you when you were there for your lesbian friend during the darkest time of her life; how you gave her support and love when everyone else turned a blind eye. I see how you treat her and her partner, to whom she has been married for over a decade, with nothing less than respect. You invite them into your home, eat with them, talk politics with them with utmost civility, and teach your children to see them as a family unit and, more importantly, as good people. They are, in every sense of the word, your friends.
You. The bisexual atheist who views religion as superstition for the weak, a crutch for those incapable of rational, critical thinking. I read your words on the internet.
But I saw the compassion and support you gave to your devout Christian friend when she was leaving an abusive husband and her whole world was crumbling around her. And even though you lived three states away, you called often, cheered her up, made her laugh, even sent care packages of goodies for her and her young children.
You. The pro-lifer. The pro-choicer. The 2nd amendment rights activist. The anti-gun legislation supporter. You, the person who sees moral decay in society. You, the person who wants to fight injustice wherever it rears its ugly head.
You are more than words on the internet.
You are those quiet moments of soul searching in your own home that no one sees. You are the kind, anonymous hand of a stranger to someone in need. You are the one who sees a family member, a friend, an acquaintance suffering due to their own actions or circumstances beyond their control, who steps forward with love and compassion and empathy, regardless of differences in ideology.
I know you. And while your words on the internet offended me to the core of my soul, you do not deserve my hatred or my contempt. Because you are and always will be more than just words on the internet. And I cannot find it within myself to dismiss those beautiful parts of you, those quiet parts that, for whatever reason, you are not exposing for all to see. You have done good. You have enriched my life. I am a better person for knowing you.
I will not throw away the entire rose simply because of the thorn that makes me bleed.