Hate. No. Radical Love. Always.

 
Hatred. Ours.

A friend of mine told me a solution to neo-nazis marching with torches. His solution: give cans of hairspray to counter protesters. I was shocked. I asked to make certain I was following: “To light the neo-nazis on fire?”
“Yes.”
“No.”
“Why not? They are neo-nazis.”
Oh, oh, oh, oh, so wrong.

The other side – no matter how vile, how much they hate me – are human beings. Stereotyping and dehumanizing them is wrong. Causing harm to them is wrong. Period.

No matter how wrong someone is, we must not treat them inhumanely.

They might be the problem. They might shout at us. They might threaten us. But hate is never the solution.

Hate is a narrowing; it makes the table more and more narrow, inviting fewer and fewer people to be with us. Love invites more people to join us.

Love is a powerful weapon.
Love is the most powerful weapon.
Love, in fact, is our only weapon.

We need to be more loving. Engaged in more justice.

I am not advocating that my enemies are right. They are not. But my hatred of them is not justified.

What my enemies stand for is wrong. But that does not justify rage or anger.

Moreover, and let me make this clear, the fact that I am not acting enraged does not mean that I am not angry.. It just means I am more mature.

Love. Solus Amor. Semper Amor.

We must love. We must not hate. We must love.

And we must love 100% of the time.

A very troubling text by Shantideva taught me that when I lose my patience, when I allow myself to bite the hook, when I allow myself to think that my anger is justified, I am wrong. Shantideva said, a single flash of anger shatters good works gathered in a thousand ages.

When we act out our anger, we are adding kerosene to the fire. (Or, in this case, hairspray.)

A single flash of anger – like I had last week in the kitchen at my daughter who was impishly hopping away from me with two feet in my right slipper even after I had asked her calmly three times to give it back to me – shattered the entire morning of goodness that we had together. I left the house with her so mad at me she wouldn’t speak to me. I shattered the good works with a single flash of anger.

We can not respond to anger with anger.
When they go low, we go high.
We must love our enemies.

Love them.

We must distinguish between them and their actions because if we do not, we are liable to conflate the two. They are not the problem. Their actions and beliefs are.

Rabbi Bruriah – a brilliant woman sage of the Talmud – taught to pray for the repentance of the wicked, rather than for their destruction. According to the story, she once found Rabbi Meir praying that an annoying neighbor would die. She reproached him explaining that Psalms 104:35 promises earthly redemption when sin, not sinners, are gone.

We must see that our enemies are not fixed – this is what stereotypes are. We must see that our enemies are human beings – human beings who are capable of change.

Jesus is quoted in the Gospel of Matthew as teaching that to be aligned with God you must “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Parenting as an analogy

I think of my adversaries – the neo-nazis, my president, and others – as though they are petulant children.

My adversaries are wrong.
Unequivocally wrong.
They are storming on.
They are loud.
They aren’t listening.
They are petulant like children.
I want to quash their mini rebellion.
But no one learns in shame.

There is not a parenting book that advocates shame.
There is not a parenting book that advocates ridicule.
There is not a parenting book that advocates shouting louder.

Being certain means only that you are certain, not that you are right.
Being louder means only that you are louder, not that you are right.
Being angrier means only that you are angrier, not that you are right.

If we want petulant children or adults to change, we have do it this way:
With firm conviction. With patience. With love.

We must love them.

Those we hate – those who shout at us how much they hate us – we must love them.

Loving our enemies might be the opposite of our natural reaction, but it is what we need to do.

The ardent white nationalist are not going to change because we shame them. The neo-nazis are not going to change because we ridicule them. President Trump is not going to change because we shout or give him the middle finger.

If we really want them to change, we must break bread with them, let them feel heard, and pray for their well being.

They believe their untruths. They have heard untruths so many times that they no longer know that their beliefs are wrong. Mark Twain said, “How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again!”

This is our work. This is our hard work. To help them – without shaming them – to see the errors of their ways.

​​​​​​​From their view

When we shout with glee at their pain, that only reinforces their idea that we are spiteful people.

When we respond to their anger with anger, that only proves that we are worthy of their bile.

When we let them know that we hate them, that only lets them know that we are worthy of hate.

How can we expect them to change their minds if we do not give them a safe space to repent? How can we expect them to change their minds about us if we are acting grossly?

I don’t like it. But that’s my problem.

I don’t like this. I don’t.
I would like to feel justified in my anger.
I would like to feel that what they have done or what they are doing is so wrong that I am justified in my hatred.
But I’m not.

I am called upon to love.
We all are.
We must combat hate with love. We must. It is the only weapon we have that will work.

Nonviolence advocates Mickey Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman were lynched to death on June 21, 1964. They were in Mississippi, driving at night, to investigate what was reported to be a church burning. Their horrifically tortured bodies were found weeks later.

Of a thousand details to the hasty lynching, such as securing a spare key to the bulldozer, only Schwerner’s last words confounded the Klansmen themselves. Jordan and others preserved them verbatim for agents who passed them to Inspector Sullivan as indelible signs. The Klansmen heard nothing fearful or defiant, nor anything practical to escape the moment of terror, but they could not forget the spark of supremely disciplined faith that reached across the last human barrier. Alton Wayne Roberts exploded past more hesitant Klansmen to yank Schwerner from the cruiser next to a ditch. He jammed a pistol into his ribs and screamed from a face of animal hatred, ‘Are you that nigger lover?’ Schwerner had an instant to reply, ‘Sir, I know just how you feel.’”

-Taylor Branch, Pillar of Fire: America In the King Years, 1963-65

We shall overcome.
Love will vanquish hate.
Let it begin with me.

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