“Sin (hate) is crouching at your door; it desires to have you.” – God, Genesis 4
People have been asking me when I’m going to write about Charlottesville, and the troubling toehold white supremacist and other neofascist groups seem to have established in the landscape of contemporary American ideology.
Well, I’ve been taking pause to observe, and I’m listening a lot, and I’m trying to get a sense of what is actually happening “out there” as opposed to what is being sensationalized on-line and across a news and media culture that likes to leverage tragedy and conflict for attention.
What I’m seeing, unfortunately, is not only a lot that is distasteful, disheartening, sickening, and – frankly – horrifying, but also a lot of counterproductive generalizing, pigeon-holing, and political opportunism.
When we stoop to political name-calling, or hating the haters, then we have lost contact with the heart of the problem, and the heart of the problem is personal – it’s within each one of us.
Sunday morning, my wife Rebekah built her remarks about the Charlottesville hate outbreak around this simple, but profound quote from Maya Angelo:
“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”
I think it’s interesting – providential even – that, Sunday evening, we watched a fascinating documentary about cancer, and cutting edge research at the National Institutes of Health. One of the tricky things about cancer is – as one of the doctors pointed out – that it’s not from the outside (like a virus or bacteria) but it is simple “us gone wrong.”
In consequence, our immune system – which is very robust – tends not to attack and destroy cancerous cells. Why? Because they are our own cells… just gone wrong. So immunotherapy is employed, with the hope that our own immune system can be retrained to destroy cancerous cells, the “us-gone-wrong” that proliferates unchecked.
Hate is “us-gone-wrong.”
Hate is “us-gone-wrong.” Hate isn’t something we can simply point at in a conveniently labelled “other.” Hate lives inside all of us, and we have to address it at its source and that source is more than 300-million strong.
This is NOT a situation where all views are morally equivalent in the free-marketplace of ideas. No, hate is a cancer, and it must be identified, confronted, suffocated, and removed. This is difficult because it’s not something external; hate is us-gone-wrong and it is resistant to traditional therapies. What’s necessary to defeat hate is the radical intervention of love. Not them, us; not him, you; not her, me; not those other people, but we, the people.
What’s necessary to defeat hate is the radical intervention of love. Not them, us; not him, you; not her, me; not those other people, but we, the people.
So there are two things that are important if we want to move forward in a positive way:
- First, we must stand against hate, we must speak truth to power, we must say, “We’ve already had the discussion about white supremacy, and bigotry, and fascism, and racism in general – we have ruled them unconstitutional and unAmerican; these points of view have no place on placards, or through bullhorns in the public square.” We must elect leaders willing to denounce hate – both speech and practice -in specific and unequivocal terms.
- Second, and most importantly, humility and a willingness to see change in ourselves. We must identity the hate – the cancer – that lives in our own souls, and we must apply the radical intervention of love, the Jesus quality of love; because our own immune systems are reluctant to do the work, because hate is us-gone-wrong.
This is NOT a political challenge; this is a challenge of good versus evil. And – as God pointed out all the way back in the Genesis story – “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you…”
Love is the good news. Love is the gospel. Love is the only solution – DEREK