Yet again I found myself scrolling my Facebook feed, scanning all the headlines and memes and wonderful pictures of your adorable families you share. Most of you I can honestly say I love and care for and enjoy seeing what you find worth sharing.
Yet again I scrolled through piles of nasty political memes. I agree. There’s a few candidates I have some really serious problems with. Some of them even scare the snot out of me. And then I got to one, I’ve seen it before, attacking a certain female candidate using some horrendous language about women. And I suddenly I was boiling angry. I don’t happen to like the candidate’s politics. There are a number of issues I see with her voting record. But I cannot be silent about this kind of political discourse. Enough is enough.
We talk about human rights, about freedom, about tolerance, about democracy, about equality, about peace. But then we post and share and like such dehumanizing insults about the human beings on our ballots, in our senate chambers, in our offices. I’ve done it. There’s the one sometimes orange-ish candidate I’ve almost loved to hate. I’ve resisted reposting or sharing anything that might seem hateful or dehumanizing in anyway. But I’ve liked plenty of things other people posted. I’ve left snide comments in a few places. I have shared some critical and possibly self-righteous articles.
But this is enough. From tonight on I remember that all people, even politicians, are people. We cannot talk about anybody using words that make them un-human and pretend to be about peace and human rights. Well, maybe you can. I can’t. I’m going to say something dangerous and admit that even the world’s worst despots are still human beings. I have yet to see hate ever cure hate. Not ever once.
Do we really want to see peace and tolerance and equality and freedom? Then we start by being these things.
I’m still working on that love your enemies thing. This is why I follow Jesus. No one else has ever issued such a radical and difficult challenge. This is the way we will find peace in the world. I stumble and fall and catch myself having liked hateful memes for months on end. And then I catch myself and remember that this is not the way. I don’t know if I can love the guy in the orange skin who keeps embarrassingly misquoting the Bible. But I can darn sure make sure that I don’t spread anymore hate. Because it will not help. All hate can ever do is spread more hate and hurt in this world.
If I want my children, my family, my friends, the people I most love to be safe in this world then I need to work for everyone to be safe. Even the people I don’t agree with. Even the politicians who enact policies I find evil. It is by spreading love and mercy and tolerance and compassion that we heal hurt and hate and teach a better way.
Every single one of the world’s religions teaches some version of doing unto others as we would have them do to us. Or at minimum not doing to others what would be hurtful to us. And I have yet to find one that has an escape clause in this commandment. Maybe self-defense and protecting those smaller than us is a tiny loophole. But I can’t pretend that liking a Facebook post or using derogatory or inflammatory language is ever an act of self defense. No, the words we speak or write or share do nothing to dampen the fires of injustice and suffering in this world if they do not teach love and kindness.
We can engage in these issues while remembering that God rains on the just and the unjust, that we are all on this little miraculous blue space ship together. We can remember that our neighbors with the ugly lawn ornament and the cult-recruiters knocking on the door and the telemarketers who use up our mobile minutes and even the most hate-filled politicians are still human beings. There may be many people on this planet who hold dearly to beliefs I do not understand, I disagree with, I find disturbing or disgusting or even flat-out dangerous and despotic. They are still human beings.
So, dear friends, those who are close to me know that I take these things very seriously and that this is a way I try to walk my life rather than a talk I spew. Please, watch me and if I slip gently remind me. I would love to have you join me on this walk and accept a challenge to speak only peaceful and compassionate words.
So, dear enemies, yes, you too. You probably won’t read this but I write it anyways. I’m trying to learn that kind of love where I can be merciful to even the worst of you. I won’t make a promise to be perfect but I will do my best here. I feel it matters to say this, to be honest. To admit that maybe I can’t forgive some things yet. To apologize for my own hard-heartedness and inability to show you the mercy I would want for those I love. I am learning slowly. And that is all I can give you for now.
So, dear many acquaintances and assorted people I generally tolerate, most of you don’t know this but you are part of what makes my life possible. I wish I had the time to become real friends with all of you. It would mean a lot to me if you would be take a moment to thoughtfully reflect on my words. I hope you found something here to take with you.
Please accept my little gift.
I understand the terrible temptation to get sucked into the hate and hurt. Please, don’t think I am judging any of you. This is something I have done myself. I have no room to point fingers. But please, consider helping me in my efforts to be a tiny speck of the peace and love and tolerance and justice this world so badly needs. Please, be another speck of light in this darkness.