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Changing Hearts and Minds

The views stated here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of this newspaper. We welcome supporting or opposing views on any published item. Received January 19, 2023.

By Sharon Challenger.

push (verb used with object) – to press upon or against (a thing) with force in order to move it away. (

We “push” doors, elevator buttons, and carriages, with the goal of getting to a place we desire.

When we push these items, the action is not viewed in a negative light. Most would understand the person’s goal, and not object.

However when the same action is applied to people, i.e. someone tries to “push” an idea upon them, that person is often labeled as “pushy”. It’s not an endearing term, to say the least. Many people will go out of their way to avoid “pushy” people.

pushy (adjective) – Disagreeably aggressive or forward. (

Today, many people feel as if they are being “pushed” to accept things they do not want to accept.

A recent headline focused on this very subject. The article was about Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers refusal to wear a rainbow jersey to celebrate 2023 Pride Night. When questioned about his decision, he explained, “I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to my religion, that’s all I’m gonna say.”

Provorov, a member of the Russian Orthodox church, takes a hardline stance on LGBTQ issues.

As might be expected, the media was quick to jump on this potential blockbuster story. He was accused of “hiding behind the Bible” by one reporter. Another wrote, “Despite his refusal to wear the warm-up, the Flyers allowed Provorov to play in the contest.”

An opposing view was published, “It takes courage to make oneself a target for the wrath of the intolerant woke fascists; in this age of pandemic cowardice, Provorov has made a heroic stand.”

So who is Provorov, a “homophobe” or a “hero”?  Why would a refusal to wear an article of clothing with a symbol on it be the deciding factor? How can a decision to take on views that you are not in favor of, make or break your career?  Or possibly destroy your life. This is something many people are facing today.

Are we naïve to think that slogans, flags, and t-shirts are the answer to all our social issues?  Can a symbol cure a problem?

I recall seeing painters work on an old home overlooking Long Island Sound. The windows were trimmed with wood that was clearly rotting, yet the painters were slapping on the paint. When I mentioned to friends that the wood obviously needed to be replaced,  the suggestion fell on deaf ears.  There “wasn’t enough money in the budget” they explained.  So they hoped that slapping paint on the rotting wood, would save the house, or prolong its life for a bit longer.

I could not help but wonder what was happening under that paint, deep inside that house.  How much more rotting wood would be found? Were there termites quietly munching away at the structure?  Would the house eventually fall into ruin because the owners thought “all it needs is a coat of paint”?

The reality is, it’s what’s inside that counts.  T-shirts, flags, slogans, and even holidays cannot change the quality of what is inside a person’s heart and soul.

When we “push” people to believe what we believe, and castigate them when they do not, we only “push” them further away. The action just might have the opposite outcome of what we intended.  We close not only the mind of the person but their heart.

Perhaps it is time to put down the slogans, the name-calling, and the shaming.

Perhaps it is time for us to all think about compassion.

compassion (noun) – sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. (

When we come to understand another person’s distress, it can open our hearts. When we cause others to be distressed by forcing our thoughts upon them, their hearts close.


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