My generation asks, “Where were you when you heard about Kennedy or about King?” The generation before mine asks, “Where were you when you heard about
Pearl Harbor?” This generation asks, “Where you on 9/11?” Those events ripped apart the fabric of our lives. After each of them we had a choice to embrace the transforming power of love or to use them as an excuse to broker hate.
Lately I’ve been given ample opportunity to be part of hate mongering and its wreaking havoc on my soul. There is a woman in my circle who has back stabbed and alienated most of us. None of us like Rachel much, but instead of forgiving her and moving on we talk about all the reasons we don’t like her. That would be fine and dandy if didn’t war on my soul. Every time I have an ugly thought or conversation about her it feels like someone has taken a fist full of nails and raked them on a chalk board. That doesn’t stop me from shutting up though, go figure.
I hate how I feel about her more than anything she has ever done. I could sit here and tell you all the reasons none of us like her and you would probably agree. That’s the problem. We bolster our dislike for her with stories about what awful thing she did or we think she will do. We feed our fear with endless tales of her evil intentions. We’ve made her a them and given ourselves permission to unkind and mean. Forgiveness doesn’t stand a chance.
You don’t have to like everyone but you do have to be nice. Isn’t that what we teach our children? Weren’t we all taught that the greatest of these is love? Except when it’s someone that we don’t like or who is not like us. Then it’s ok to hate them, right? They’re not us. They’re one of them and that justifies all the vitriolic labels we slap on them. That’s always been the case in this country. There’s always a them; another wave of immigrants seeking a new life, women who don’t follow the rules, people who worship God in a different way. We don’t seem to need much reason to hate. All it takes is to be different, a different race, a different religion, a different sexual orientation, a different culture. Just point your finger and someone will haul out the Bible, history, science, and voodoo, whatever it takes to rationalize our loathing for another child of God.
I don’t want create anymore thems in my life for the sake of my weary soul if nothing else. Seriously, nails on a chalk board folks. The only thing I can think of to do is hold Rachel in my heart and pray for her like her mother. To pray for her to know love, to have her heart’s desire, to be filled with abundance in all things, to know glory and happiness. All I know how to do is pray, so that’s what I’m doing. I’m doing it for my sake because the one thing I know for sure is the power of love to transform our lives and our world. And I’m the one who needs to be transformed.