Since today is September 11th, I thought I'd write about something that has been really on my mind lately, and that is hate. It seems like hate is lurking in places I'd never expect, cropping up in surprising ways everywhere, including in me, despite my best intentions.
As a Christian, it is important to me to love my enemies. I think of an enemy not as someone I hate, but as someone who wants ill for me, who wants to see me fail, who rejoices at my misfortune; I do have enemies and I think we all do. So I am learning how to do that--to love them. I'm working on it.
It is also important to me to be kind always. I love the friends I have here online and the blogs I read, which have taught me a great deal about kindness. They continue to do so. Occasionally though I'll see hate crop up online, oftentimes from someone who is normally very loving. It always bothers me, makes me sad, and sometimes I speak up, hopefully in a sensitive and gentle way. I appreciate the times people have spoken up to me and have let me know when I've been less than loving.
So this week the preacher who wanted to burn the Korans spoke up and revealed the hate in his heart. Apparently his parishioners share his views as well. If my pastor wanted to do anything like that I would leave the church (running) and pray for his soul. The parishioners who remain are supportive of his views, at least at some level. It astounded me that someone could feel this way and not feel ashamed, but self-righteous. I've been trying to process it since I heard about it. I still am.
Then I found out that someone I know agrees with the preacher. This person is also a Christian. How does such hate live in a human heart? This person believed that the preacher was acting in an appropriate way because it was probably in response to the controversy about the mosque in NYC--which they thought made sense and was good. I was revolted and had a hard time finding compassion--it was a hunt--and I still do not understand.
A couple of weeks ago I was in my favorite coffee shop. Relaxing and reading and writing, getting a lot done. A new person arrived, an olive-skinned man who sat down in the center of the shop and began rapidly talking on a cell phone in an unfamiliar gutteral language. He was very loud and very, very angry. His discussion went on and on and his agitation became more pronounced. The culture of the coffee shop is that you leave when you make a call or else talk softly and briefly. Many people there are writing and working. This man ignored everyone and continued interminably.
He could have been a husband in a fight with his wife. He could have been an attorney outraged at an injustice venting uncontrollably in a coffee shop. However, in my mind he was a Muslim terrorist planning his next hit; I felt fear and hatred towards him. It all added up. I couldn't get the idea out of my head. Even though I knew it was just an idea, just fear, just hate--and nothing more. He kept getting louder and louder and no one stopped him. Thirty minutes went by. What man talks that fast for that long? When would he stop? Everyone at the coffee shop heard him, including the manager and workers, but no one said a word. I didn't either...because I didn't want to be seen as a racist.
Now had he been Caucasian, I definitely would have said something. I would have expected him to know the coffee shop's culture and to comply. As it was, I endured the fear and pain that his conversation triggered in me...and then finally he left. At last.
Feeling calmer, I thought about it, knowing that my imaginations were based totally upon fear and had no basis in reality. I know the difference between thoughts, projections, and what is actually going on. I thought about how many people don't know the difference between their fears and reality--not a clue. They don't know how to tell if something is true or is merely a projection based upon their past experiences. I felt glad that I knew what was happening even as it happened--sorry for the fear and judgment but happy to know that these were only fear-based thoughts indicating that I had some personal work to do!
It's still hate, but there is something that I can do about it. And identifying it as such protects others because I would never act upon it. I will work to rid myself of it.
For this preacher and his flock--they are trapped. Trapped in their thoughts and imaginings which are hateful and which seem so real to them. How can we get so off-base and not even know?
Today I pray for those people who hate--which is all of us--but pray that we will be drawn ever more to love each day for everyone, especially those who are different from us. I pray for me. And you. And that preacher.
~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark