There are many fears, on all sides, that have come to the surface. For this, Donald Trump has done us a favor that we can receive with gratitude (but “thanks” is not a vote). Hearts and minds can remain entrenched in narrow hateful thinking if left alone. But when things get stirred up, when the fears come to the surface, we have an opportunity to expand vision, to address bigotry, greed, insecurity, and apathy, to push ourselves toward more Loving community.
We must Love Donald Trump and his supporters. We must Love the people who oppose Donald Trump and his supporters. It’s the American thing to do. It’s the way to move forward.
In the contested 1924 Democratic National Convention, the deadlock was reported to be because “Everybody was against somebody or some place, but not enough people were for anybody or any place.” It may be considered good that the main conflict that year, KKK influence, ended up being decided with a rejection of the Klan. But there were actual fist fights on the floor of the convention that year.
What if people could find common principles that they could be *for*? How would Love made a difference in that convention?
Franklin D. Roosevelt, then still early in his rehabilitation from polio, gave a nominating speech for Al Smith where he spoke of love and affection several times. Eight years later at his inauguration, FDR reminded us “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Franklin Roosevelt was not perfect and was a product of the time in which he lived. However, his love for this country, and for individual Americans, was evident in his day-to-day life and in a 1936 speech where he spoke of “…the love that understands, that does not merely share the wealth of the giver, but in true sympathy and wisdom helps men to help themselves.”
FDR’s love was not passive, as he called “for Americans to face down” one of the causes of fear: “…those who would raise false issues, pervert facts, preach the gospel of hate, and minimize the importance of public action to secure human rights or spiritual ideals.“ He said that he “will continue to preach, the gospel of the good neighbor.” (from a 1935 speech)
When we need to speak up, let’s trust we can speak out in love. We must not speak out in anger. As Thich Nhat Hanh’s fourth mindfulness training reminds us, “When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak.” Sometimes, the most loving thing we can do is to avoid talking about those things over which we disagree. Our relationships cannot be about focusing on our differences.
There are times to speak out, to stop an injustice, to refute hate, to spread love. We can also gain understanding by listening. If you cannot be nice, be quiet.
Okay, I admit to be being a bit corny with this one!
Sometimes a seemingly good idea doesn’t stand up well under greater scrutiny.
Sometimes people are not quite as admirable as they seem.
This quote originates from Gandhi, who himself had some serious flaws*, so we are only dealing with this idea from him, which is often misconstrued.
“Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner”
This is often mistakenly attributed as advice from Gandhi, when the original context said that this idea spreads “the poison of hatred.” Loving the sinner and hating the sin is just hate.
I include the proper context here, from his Autobiography:
“Hate the sin and not the sinner is a precept which, though easy enough to understand, is rarely practiced, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads in the world. Man and his deed are two distinct things. It is quite proper to resist and attack a system, but to resist and attack its author is tantamount to resisting and attacking oneself. For we are all tarred with the same brush and are children of one and the same Creator, and as such the divine powers within us are infinite. To slight a single human being is to slight those divine powers, and thus to harm not only that being, but with him, the whole world.” ― Mohandas Gandhi - Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth
* Stories about Gandhi’s life reveal disturbing practices and viewpoints. In his earlier life in South Africa, he seemed to agree with at least some of the racist ideas there, and his views on India’s caste systems were seemingly tainted. In his later life, his “experiments” with celibacy led to some abhorrent practices. Some of Gandhi’s ideas about non-violent resistance had positive influences on others, so we value those ideas. And as Gandhi was a child of God, flawed as he was, we still Love him while acknowledging his flaws.
If you are given a most wonderful gift, a human soul, and are not grateful to the giver, what does that say about you? If you see your soul as a wonderful gift, and then hate that wonderful gift as given to others, what does that say about the value of your soul?
“I will permit no man... to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.”
― Booker T. Washington