"Hate begets hate... We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love."
Ever since the Neo-Nazi protest in Charlottesville, VA that led to the death of a young woman, I've been having trouble sleeping, trying to find words for how I feel about all of this. The above quote from Martin Luther King Jr. is the sum of my feelings, but there's more to it than just a quote. I'm also quite upset about the aftermath of people's opinions on the matter, as well as the state of the world and more specifically our country as it is right now.
I've had a friend post on Facebook that he feels like he needs to do more than just post memes and links to articles and another friend posted about her fear of nuclear war and the safety for her two children. There is an apocalyptic fear that is looming in most people's hearts and minds right now and it's truly deplorable that this is the reality we face when we wake to a new day. But what can we do?
Here's what I'm going to do:
First off, spewing hate towards hateful acts will not get us anywhere. The name calling, the death threats, and the abhorring words of disgust will only fuel the fire of hatred. So is saying: "I hope karma catches up to them," because that's just wishing the other person unrest and ill will. As Mister King tells us: "Hate can't drive out hate; Only love can do that." So step one is to realign my thoughts of hurt and disgust with compassion and love. Why would I want to do this? First and foremost because it's what Jesus taught us to do. But second, I know how it feels to have made poor choices and been kicked around, disowned, and considered undesirable association. And I also know the other side of that, which is the feeling compassion, feeling safe and loved, and not being judged for my past mistakes. So I will make the most earnest effort to treat every human with only the best intentions and love-based actions. KEYWORD: HUMAN. I'm not talking about civil rights or specific hate crimes. I'm talking about every single human deserves to be treated with love, kindness, gentleness, and forgiveness. We are all connected. Understanding the connectedness allows true compassion to flow.
Second, I will continue to condemn the actions of racism in myself and others and will do everything in my power to not let the negative actions and words of others infiltrate my own thoughts and actions. Actions mean everything. I must think with love. I must act with love. I must breathe and speak love. I know that in the past I have spoken with racial slurs. I have judged others based on social stereotypes. I have willfully and fearfully kept quiet in certain situations because I am a white woman. I am not without sin and misgivings. But I truly believe that the more I flood my heart and brain with the most positive and important thoughts and actions, the more likely it will become a reality for me. So with prayer, meditation, and careful self inspection, I will continue to weed out negative influences in my life and focus on acting with the utmost love to others.
Lastly, fear, violence, racism, and hate all come from fear. Knowing this allows me to understand that the person committing heinous acts of violence or spewing words of hate and death are afraid... and they need help. I cannot be afraid of another person or regime. I must allow my faith to continue to be greater than my fear and other people's fear. I will replace fear with compassion and have faith that this world's problems are only temporary. As the famous song Amazing Grace goes: "The Lord has promised good to me. His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures. The earth shall soon dissolve like snow. The sun forbear to shine. But God, Who called me here below, will be forever mine." I spent most of my life fearing the apocalypse, the end of times, or the destruction of this planet Earth. I used to lie awake in fear that God would strike me down because I didn't follow his ways. Now I lie awake trying to find words to help others get through these feelings. With my faith, I have learned and truly believe that there is more than this. When in doubt, I just believe. Faith it till I make it. Fear is a debilitating force that will only stop me from being who I truly am in this world. And after 40 years, I finally know who that person is, so there's no going back now.
These are tough times we live in. And there will only be more to come. I'm starting with the woman in the mirror. That's how a revolution of love will start. When we all start loving ourselves and treating others the same.
1 John 3:18
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
I leave this post today with some other links I have found very thought provoking and important.
The On-Going Storm; Christian Roots of White Supremacy in America
Fr. James Martin, SJ: On Charlottesville
Denouncing White Supremacy
Why are people racist?