Wake up America! Hate is tearing across our country like a runaway train, and no one seems to be at the controls. The worst part is I’m not sure we even want to stop it, as hate has become our new form of entertainment.
We tune into the news each night eagerly anticipating how presidential candidate Donald Trump will shock us. Love him or not, he’s got our full attention. We can’t wait to hear what outlandish thing he’ll say next, as he systematically maligns every human being in this country except white males.
You’d think the outcry would be so loud he’d have to slink away in shame. But surprisingly the opposite is happening – he’s winning, and he’s winning big. So big in fact that we can no longer console ourselves with the assurance that it’s only rednecks and fools that support him. He is in fact, a man representing the people – Americans just like you and I, living in communities all across the country, and sitting right next to you at work.
Don’t believe me? Look at the other stories in the news. In just the last month here’s some of what’s happened in New York:
- A transgender woman was attacked on the train by another woman, who hurled homophobic, transphobic and racist slurs before her fists started flying.
- A muslim man was going home from mosque when he was knocked from his bike and punched repeatedly, resulting in serious injury and the inability to speak.
- A 78-year old woman was brutally assaulted by two teenage girls, after asking one of them to move her feet so she could sit down on the subway.
- A young black man died of an asthma attack as he literally ran for his life, fleeing a crew of young white and Hispanic males waving a gun, screaming “I’m going to shoot you nigger.”
Wake up America! This is the world we’re living in, and if we want to see it change it’s up to us to stop the hate. Because as much as we’d like to believe otherwise, it is our unwillingness to speak out, confront injustice and change our own behaviors that has fostered this environment which supports the subjugation of others. And sadly, the biggest champion of its progression has been Christians.
Yep, I said it. Through direct action or lack of action, we have fueled the runaway hate train by perpetuating these notions that different is deficient and must be dealt with in the most severe fashion. In many communities we have become homophobic, racist, misogynists who systematically turn away anyone who does not fit our mold of a perfect soul. I wonder, what would Jesus think of us now? Would he agree when we say…
He is just so gay. Did you see how hard he was switching when he walked?
What is she? I don’t want her in the bathroom with me!
Why is that woman up speaking? Shouldn’t a man be up there?
Build a mosque in my community? I don’t want those terrorists living here.
Keep those wetbacks out of this country! Send them back where they belong. I’m not wasting my tax dollars on them.
I highly doubt Jesus would relate to the movement he started so long ago, when His central message was about love, acceptance and inclusion. He didn’t offer salvation through shaming – it was grace that saved us all, and yet, we are so stingy with it toward each other.
We hide our hate behind the mask of Christian principles, but our words tell our truth. When we encounter members of the LGBTQ community, we are disgusted by their lifestyle – one we cannot stand to be around because it makes us so uncomfortable. So we talk about them, belittle them and freely share our hatred of them with anyone we meet, saying it is their behavior we hate – not the human being. But how can that be true when they are not welcome in our homes, our churches and our communities? It’s awfully hard to share the love of God with folks we’re not even willing to see and spend time with.
Yes friends it is us, the more than 70% of Americans who self identify as Christians that are perpetuating these divisive and alienating viewpoints, and it is up to us to stop the hate by leading with love. How? Well, here’s three places where we can start.
Stop perpetuating misperceptions about people we don’t understand. The problem with so many of our viewpoints is they are rooted in fear and ignorance. We run from things we don’t understand, and as a result become susceptible to believing nonsense fed to us by folks who want to play off our fears. Here’s a few things we can eliminate right off the bat:
- Muslims are not terrorists, any more than all white men are serial killers.
- Mexicans are not rapists, any more than all white women are whores.
- Black young men aren’t thugs, any more than all white young men are school shooters.
- Homosexuals are no more likely to be pedophiles, than heterosexuals are to keep sex slaves.
Wake up America! See how ridiculous it all sounds, when we paint an entire community with the actions of a precious few? We’ve got to stop generalizing in order to marginalize, and learn to see people as people – equally endowed with flaws and faults, all in need of grace. It’s only then that we can move forward with an open heart, and truly learn to do what’s next.
Stop limiting our love to only those we like. When Jesus was asked in Matthew 22 what was the greatest commandment in the law, here was his response:
You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.
Over and over Jesus talked about love. Not just loving those easy to love, but our enemies as well. This is where the rubber met the road in His ministry, because His position was diametrically opposed to mainstream philosophy.
Similar to today, Jesus’ time included racism, classism, and sexism. Power was held by a privileged few, and religious leaders were long on judgement and short on grace. But time and time again, Jesus lead with love. He didn’t buy into the elitist views of the educated, nor did He alienate Himself from those who others deemed unclean and unworthy. He was a man of the people – consistently shattering the status quo by hanging out with prostitutes, thieves, and outcasts of the community.
He set an example for how we are to put love in practice, in spite of our prejudices and preconceived notions. You see what most of us do is love people we like. But what Jesus taught us by example was simply to love people – regardless of whether we like them, approve of their lifestyle, or deem them worthy. This is the kind of love that can stop the runaway hate train, and reshape our communities. But it’s tough to do, especially when we really don’t love ourselves. So here’s my last piece of advice…
Stop beating ourselves up, so we can treat each other better. The reason most of us can’t love other people without prejudice is because we don’t love ourselves unconditionally. We view our lives from a spirit of lack – always focused on what we haven’t done, or can’t achieve, or will never experience – rather than the spirit of abundance, believing that who God made us and what He’s given us is enough. We unconsciously talk down to ourselves all day long – too fat, too skinny, too stupid, too black, too slow, too old – until we can’t help but see ourselves as lacking. Only we don’t want to be at the bottom, so we begin identifying people who are different, allowing ourselves to view as them deficient, so at least we can be better than them.
But the problem with that thinking is that when we oppress others we also hold ourselves down too, because all our good energy is focused on ensuring they are seen as bad people. That way our illusion of grandeur can stay in place, even though it’s not really getting us anywhere. Aren’t we tired of running in place, hating people for no good reason?
Wake up America! Wake up Christians! Let’s take up Jesus’ charge and lead with love. Be the first to boldly step up, and stop the hate. When folks come to you with nonsense, nip it in the bud. Call them on their crap. Don’t let our brothers and sisters spew hate about people they don’t understand, let alone have never tried to love.
This is our country. If we want America to be great, we must stop the hate. I know it’s not easy. Like you, I struggle everyday to move beyond my own prejudices and frustrations. But I believe we can fight the apathy, and take action. We can be the true reflection of God’s love in a hurting world, and bring about the change we so desperately want to see.
Will you join me? ♥ #StoptheHate