I was raised to not embrace hate.
My mother was a fervent Southern Baptist who knew Bible verse by heart. Often her admonishments to me, for my pesky or bad behavior, was quoted scripture. She also was, I believe now in retrospect, always consistent with her actions and beliefs. Even though I consciously decided to leave the church (subject of a future post), I still have deeply embedded within me those oft quoted scriptures. One in particular has been bubbling up recently—with the pandemic, pitiful politics and now, Russia invading Ukraine: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13: 34 (King James Version–her favorite.)
But what if the “another” is someone who is killing? Can we find it in our hearts to love this person? Will love and compassion transform them? Or will it be a mirage that simply makes us feel better? Which is more constructive: anger that is wrought from hate or love seeking answers and compassion. At this point I can only ask the question. I am beginning to see that love for another is a way of binding us to a wider community. While we may not know all of the insecurities and deep-seated anxieties that create the Putin and Trumps of the world, they are human beings. They too had mothers who may have quoted scripture. Somewhere along their life-journey they derailed. Their fears and insecurities have engulfed them so completely that their memory-tethers to their morality and ethics have been cut irrevocably. Should I hate them? If I do not hate them am I condoning their abhorrent behavior? But what of Evil.
“If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.”—Jeremiah 18:8.
What does this scripture tell me? It says that it is not my job to change a person. It has to be from within. If I see signs that they are changing, then I can resist the urge to do evil in return—even though I can not really “do evil unto them.” While I am cherry picking Scripture out of context, it is the quote that sparks new thinking. I am not endorsing any religious response to the madness now in the world. I am simply grasping for meaning and how I can respond to hate. Hate for those who are so selfish and destructive that they have no time or inclination to reflect on the horror they are inflicting. They are blinded by their ambitions and greed. They have exiled themselves from a community bound by love for one another. I reject them. I reject the vileness that has caused such suffering and loss. For millennium humanity has suffered evil. We have endured. We have changed. We have moved to new places. I am optimistic that this repeating cycle will “pause” at some point—granting us a period of time to reflect and heal. I am also realistic and believe that it will resurrect itself in the future. These evil aberrations are a test of our world community. How we respond is the central question. My mother’s quotes still resonate in me. I can abhor but not hate them.