Five-year-old Jayden Sink was targeted by the Westboro Baptist Church, and publicly warned she would burn in hell for “enabling” gays. Today, the courage of Jayden Sink is On Our Radar.
Once upon a time, there was a difficult period that history remembers as the Obama Years. It was an era when those we now call the Dark Beings infested America, drawn like magnets to one another’s fear of change. The Dark Beings banded together in what historians now call Armies of Ignorance. They had names like Neocons, who legend says believed they could make themselves immortal through never ending war. And names like Teaers, who are often depicted as snakes that wriggled their way into every level of government, turning it from a force to help the American people, into a force that existed only to punish the citizens who did not agree with Teaer dogma. There was also Enra, filled with Dark Beings said to be so paranoid, they could be identified by their acrid cordite smell. Silly as it sounds now, Enra believed the world would be safer if everyone carried a gun everywhere they went, even into their own beds at night. And then there were the Dark Beings who gathered in what, even then, were known as Hate Groups. They called themselves Nom, and Westboro, and House Republican Caucus. These groups declared only THEY could decide who had the “right kind” of love, and they conspired to do all in their power to keep boy couples and girl couples from being able to marry and raise children.
In this time of Dark Beings, a princess slipped into the universe. (“And Kansas, she said was the name of the star.”) She was not royal by birth, but she was born to a good and honest man, named Jon Sink, who loved art and music and stood bravely against the Dark Beings whenever he encountered them. He was a man who had opened his heart, and tried to do good deeds in the world, involving himself in projects to bring bicycles to Zimbabwe, and clean water to South Sudan. In return, the universe had sent him this special gift, this American princess. Jon named his newborn daughter Jayden. And as he held his child, he promised to teach her compassion, and empathy, and forgiveness and love, all the traits a true princess must be able to summon, as naturally as breathing out and breathing in.
As the years progressed, Jayden proved to be fair of face, and lithe of limb, with hair gold like the sun, as lovely as any princess of royal blood. She had a smile so warm that those lucky enough to be graced by it say could melt even the icy heart of a Dark Being. As she grew, just as Jon had determined she would, Jayden showed compassion and empathy and forgiveness and love, as naturally as breathing out and breathing in. And just like the golden Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, who was also was born a commoner, Jayden carried in her heart no fear of boy couples, and girl couples, and was distressed that the Dark Beings were so unkind to them, especially the Westboros.
The Westboros were as rage-filled a group as ever existed in the Obama Years. Perhaps they had once been good Christian people, worshiping a loving, forgiving god, but they had been lured away to follow a false deity they believed was full of hatred for humankind. Where once they may have been “God loving people,” they had mysteriously devolved into a singularly “God fearing group”. Westboros believed that the only way they could save themselves from their mean-spirited god’s wrath, was to spread far and wide the claim that there existed a god,so vindictive, so disapproving of the love between two men or two women, that he would send such lovers into a pit of fire for eternity.
Historians today still argue over why these Dark Westboro Beings chose to do the bidding of such a god, rather than band together to resist his cruelty. Perhaps they were led astray by unscrupulous leaders. I, myself, lean toward the explanation that most were suffering from mental illness. What else can explain why Westboros were so lacking in empathy, they would haunt the funerals of fallen soldiers to scream insults at the grieving wives and husbands and mothers of the dead. Then, venom spent, they would scurry back inside the safe walls of their compound – in Topeka, Kansas, where Princess Jayden lived.
In those days, many parents shielded their children from the knowledge that Hate Groups like the Westboros existed, concerned nightmares would surely follow. But Jon Sink taught his young daughter about the Dark Beings who lived in her town. He let Jayden know that she need not to fear such men. He told his daughter the love she could offer the world was so bright, and so shining, that it had the power to obscure the Westboro’s fire and brimstone message. We may not know what words he used, but we know Jon taught his daughter that the good people of Topeka Kansas, and the good people all over the world, outnumbered the Dark Beings a thousand to one. So if Jayden needed assistance, all she needed to do was to spread her arms, and raise her voice, and call for help, and the good people would flock to the aid of a true Princess, such as she. They would surround her. They would protect her. They would hold her up. And with Jayden to lead the way, they would douse the fires of hatred with the cool waters of peace.
More than anything, Jayden wished to banish intolerance from the world, but she was five years old. How could she take on the grown men and women who cowered behind the Westboro walls? Her father had an idea. He told Jayden there was a house across the street from the Westboro compound. It was owned by good people who painted it rainbow colors and welcomed the boy couples and the girl couples that so enraged the Westboros. The good people who gathered there were determined to generate so much kindness that the Westboros would be cured of their evil ways.
Why don’t we help them sow their message of peace? Her father suggested. The idea made Jayden eyes sparkle with delight. So together, Jayden and her father built a Pink Lemonade Stand in the front yard of the rainbow-painted Equality House, directly across from the Westboros. She asked patrons for $1 a cup donation toward Planting Peace, the charity supported by the good people who owned the rainbow house.
Jayden’s Pink Lemonade Stand was an immediate success. She endured almost five hours in the hot sun, a princess who personally served her customers, each one warmed by her smile of thanks, as much as they were cooled by her pink lemonade. Someone helped upgrade her sign. A group of bikers stopped by to sip lemonade. A woman gave her $26, in honor of the children who died at Sandy Hook. The good will and the money rolled in, and by the time she took down her sign, Jayden had raised $170 in cash, and inspired other good people to start their own Crowdrise fundraiser to help stand against the Dark Beings.
Jayden also raised the ire of the Westboros. (“And they roared their terrible roars and they gnashed their terrible teeth.”)
In the Obama Years, even a five-year-old was not safe from a vicious Westboro attack. On a sign the Dark Beings raised over their church, they aimed at young Jayden a cruel threat. Parents today, when recounting the story of Jaden Sink to their sleepy children, often tell their babies the Westboro warning said, “Surrender Dorothy” and was written in the sky by a Westboro witch on a broomstick, but that is just a tall tale, like Paul Bunyan’s blue ox, or Dick Cheney’s stolen Iraqi heart. There are photos preserved in museums dedicated to the Obama Years‘ Armies of Ignorance, that document the true message of the Westboros: FAGS AND ENABLERS ALL BURN IN HELL. LEMONADE WON’T COOL ANY TONGUES.
The attack did not send Jayden running.. She wasn’t intimidated. She wasn’t even angry. Jayden remembered the secret her father had revealed to her about the power of princesses. She spread her arms, she raised her voice, and she called out for help. And just he had promised, good people from all over America flocked to her aid. Good people found the link to her website. Good people made donations for peace. Good people spread her story to every corner of the country. They surrounded her. They protected her. They held her up.
Donations flowed like cool water sent to douse the flames of hatred – $21,000 and counting.
Jayden Sink may not have been born to a palace, but she possesses all the traits of a true princess: compassion, empathy, forgiveness and love. She has demonstrated that they are a part of her, like breathing out and breathing in.
Jean Ann Esselink is a straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle.