Love One Another

Love one another1

Just to make to clear, I write this from a position of privilege.  I am a white male Christian, who has never faced any discrimination in my life.  I have never been prevented by anyone from practicing my faith as I see fit, and I do not buy into the argument that Christianity is under attack in America.  Regardless of what people think we still have more freedoms than most of the world’s population.

I also understand the fear and how fear sells in politics and I also know that many people in America and the world are fearful right now.  But what we do not need is more fearmongering what we need is more love and understanding.

Two of the Republican Presidential candidates, hours after the Brussels bombings, called for roving patrols in a Muslim neighborhood in America and the ability to torture people to gain information.  If there is one way to ensure that you will radicalize a population it is single them out and blame them for all of the problems.  In his statement about the terrorist attack, Governor John Kasich said, “We are not at war with Islam, we are at war with radical Islam.”  I would add that we should be at war with radicalism that flies under any flag be it Muslim or Christian.

Not long ago, in fact, it was after the terrorist attack in Paris, my church hosted a gathering of religious leaders in our community.  There were Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews, and non-believers all gathered together to pray, in our way, for peace in the world.  We gathered as religious leaders but also as fellow members of humanity as a sign of solidarity.  We heard prayers for peace from all of those religions and we all joined our voices together as one.

America is an incredibly polarized place right now and what we need is unity, not more polarization.  I do understand that people are afraid but rather than sending armed patrols into Muslim neighborhoods, I’m not actually sure those even exists, why not have people gather at churches, mosques, and community centers and talk about what brings them together and how we can all work to end violence and racism in our communities.  Sending armed guards and rounding up people just because they are of one religion is history repeating itself and not in a good way.

What brings people together is understanding, the understanding that comes from mutual love and respect for all our neighbors, not just the ones that look like us.  Polarization is a tactic that is used to win elections and making us afraid of those who look different.  America should be different than that.

Soon Christians will celebrate Holy Thursday.  It was on this night that Jesus washed the feet of his Apostles and gave them a new command. The Gospel of John records the events of that evening and this new command of Jesus not only for those that were there on that night but for all of us. “I give you a new commandment, which you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you have a love for one another.”

During this holy week on the church calendar, Scripture passages will be read about what hatred can do and the destruction it can bring and leading to the horrible death of Jesus Christ.  Thankfully we Christians know that the story does not end there and that what the story is truly about is sacrifice and unconditional love, and it was that love that changed the world.

We have to do more than pray for peace we have to work for peace, we have to, in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “be the change we want to see.”  Throw off the fear, throw off the hate and take on a love of neighbor.  Get to know people and truly understand them and what they believe.  In the end, we will be a stronger nation.

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