After seeing all that’s happened in the past year, we can honestly say this:
Hate seems to be alive and well in our world.
For all the progress we have made as a society in so many areas, hate has not been eradicated. In some ways, it’s still growing – in our culture, in our politics, in our lives, and even in our churches.
And, this is problem. Because, there is almost nothing more antithetical to Christianity than hate.
More and more, in the political process, in conversations, and even across pews, hate is pouring forth. And, it’s no longer enough to simply “call out” hate as wrong – we definitely need to do that – but, we also need to change this reality.
As Christians, we need to be partnering with the Spirit to rid our world of hate. Because, hate is toxic, it is infectious, and it spreads. Hate is insidious on the left and the right, and it is a problem.
So, what do we do? How do we rid our world of hate?
Well, the answer is to love those who hate. But, that is a real challenge. Because, loving hateful people is just plain hard.
Recently, I read something by James A. Baldwin that I believe is both true and helpful. He writes,
“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hate so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”
I think this is insightful, true, and also helpful.
As Christians, we are called to love others. We are called to make the world a better place. But, in a world of shouting, anger, and hate, it can be hard to love others.
What Baldwin is getting at is that often hate gets attached to pain. And, perhaps that’s where we need to focus. To not just focus in on changing people’s hate, but also on the pain underneath the hate. To hear, listen, care, and, yes, at times even challenge the pain, if necessary.
We need to see others not just as their hate, but rather as a people who might have pain as well.
This has been helpful for me. Because, now when I hear a hate-filled speech, I also hear pain attached to lost jobs, fear-filled futures, and uncertainty and lies. Of course, this pain never excuses the hate, but it does help me to love those who hate.
It also helps me to be part of changing the hate around me, as well as the hate that is within me.
So, I write all this because I think in our world full of sound bytes, talking points, yelling, name calling, and hate-filled speeches, we can find a better way. It begins by healing deep pain, not just seeking to stop hate. Maybe one way to live in this world of hate is to focus on its healing.
Because, hate will truly be stopped when healing happens.