Driving Out Hate
The Lord said to Ananias in a vision, “Go to the house of Judas and look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done.” – Acts 9:10-13 (NRSV, abbreviated)
If Ananias could inspire Saul to drop his murderous hatred of Christians;
If Daryl Davis, a Black musician, can befriend and lead 200 people to disavow the KKK;
If Christian Picciolini can lead hundreds away from neo-Nazi groups;
Then there is hope for all of us. They have proved that those who appear underserving of compassion are sometimes the ones who need it the most.
Additional animus is not the answer. “Hate cannot drive out hate,” a great leader (MLK) once said; “only love can do that.” When individuals or groups lose sight of their moral core, I’d like to see compassionate responses over more vitriol.
It’s a strength that people and parties view things differently. It’s part of what makes America great. But we should be united in calling one another away from evil, united in renouncing leaders who trade in the unacceptable. There are not two sides to that.
If we stand by a leader who is guilty of ongoing, unrepentant racism; we stand with racism.
If we stick with a leader who lies repeatedly; we disavow honesty and integrity.
If we condone a leader who bullies and threatens; we support that too.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. O Divine Teacher, grant that I may not so much seek to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. (adapted from the Prayer of Saint Francis)
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now.