“Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
I wanted to choose a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. this week. Given everything that is unfolding in our nation right now, this one jumped right out to me.
Hate is on the loose.
Intolerance is on the loose.
Bigotry is on the loose.
Xenophobia and homophobia and Islamaphobia are on the loose.
It must be resisted.
It must be fought.
It must be driven out.
I watched the attack on our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6 and I grew angry. I was outraged. I felt a deep pain grow within me that could boil over into hatred if I let it.
I can’t be the only one feeling that way.
Preach to me, Dr. King.
Let me hear clearly the voice of one who had far more reason to hate his enemy than I ever will. Show me what it was you saw in your Jesus that turned that hate to love. I want and need that.
I watched you as a child, Dr. King. I know that when you talked about loving your enemy and praying for those who persecuted you were not talking about just laying down and accommodating evil. You were talking not just about avenging the crime or punishing the criminal but changing the heart and seeking shalom – the beloved community.
I admire you so much, Dr. King. I want your courage and your inner strength and your faith. I want to turn my anger into the kind of powerful, courageous, and useful love that you exhibited in word and deed. I want my pathways to resistance and to justice to be fueled by my love for all, by my vision of a just world, by my hope for peace between all peoples.
I need to hear your words again and again and again. Left to my own desires and devices I would fall short of the mark that we who are disciples of the one we call Jesus are asked to set for ourselves.
It was he, our beloved Jesus, whom you embodied when you loved your enemy, absorbed his hatred, and carried your own cross to Calvary with the sure hope of his eternal and abiding love.
I want a portion of your courage and your conviction and your capacity to transform your righteous anger into acts of love destined to change the world.
Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.
May we all find our pathways to love through the cauldron of hatred we see playing out in front of us every day. May that love not become sentimentality or submission, but the kind of courageous resistance to evil exhibited by our dear brother Martin. And may all hatred cease as those who choose love endure in hope and with courage on this, our journey Into the Mystic.