Appeal to Love in a World of Hate

This post is inspired by a post on the blog Love, Joy, Feminism. I wrote this post to urge my readers, in the midst of a world turned inward and towards hate, to be a purple thread on a white cloth. As MLK said in his sermon “Love Your Enemies”, ” Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiples hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending Spiral of destruction.”(The Strength to Love, p. 47)

We see this played out these days: in the African-Americans killed by the police; in the cops killed by a sniper; in the violence of ISIS; in the anti-Muslim rhetoric of demagogues feeding a fear and hatred of the Other; in the spike in xenophobic attacks in the wake of Brexit. Though it seems these are on the rise, these really are ancient vices we have been succumbing to for centuries, possibly even in us thanks to evolution.

However, even if this is natural, that does NOT make it right, and wrong it is! Our species has the potential to transcend our animalistic nature, a feature existing in many world religions. I heard talk in Judaism mentioning rising above our lower nature.(A friend of mine heard Rabbi Lapin identify this lower nature with Baal.) In Christianity this animalistic, primal nature is called “the flesh” or “the sinful nature”. (A discussion on the differing views on this is for another post.)  Among the works of the flesh listed by St. Paul in Gal. 5:19-21 are hatred, strife, rivalries, divisions, and factions; this means that all this tribalism and hatred is not in line with the Kingdom of God, for St. Paul continues, ” those who practice such things will not inherit God’s Kingdom. “(Gal. 5:21). Paul continues with the fruit of the Spirit: ” But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”(Gal. 5:22-23). Elsewhere it is written, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.'(1 Jn. 3:15) and ” If a man says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for He who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”(1 Jn. 4:20). This love is to extend beyond whichever groups with which we identify. Way back in Genesis it is written that humanity is made in the image of God(Gen. 1:26, 5:1, 9:6), and after we are told to Love our neighbor as ourselves, we are told to love the stranger as ourselves (Lev. 19:34). When Jesus is asked “Who is my neighbor?”, He tells the story of a Samaritan helping a Jewish man, teaching that neighborly concern is to be universal(Luke 10:25-38).

In Buddhism hatred is seen as one of the three poisons(roots of evil), the other two being lust(that is, greed, passion, desire) and ignorance/delusion. These three are considered responsible for all suffering (a major theme in Buddhism), are seen as being part of maya(illusion), and are what keeps us in samsara(the cycle of rebirth). On the contrary, compassion is one of the most important virtues in Buddhism. In Buddhism compassion is the wish for all sentient beings to be free from suffering. There is another virtue, loving-kindness, which is the wish for all beings to be happy, in which one values all their joys and pains as one’s own. In the Mahayana branch of Buddhism there is the bodhisattva ideal: to reach enlightenment but to remain in the cycle of rebirth out of compassion for all beings, that they may be enlightened as well.

In 2006 there was a terrorist attack on the island of Bali in Indonesia. In response, the rock band Dewa 19 wrote the song Laskar Cinta(Warriors of Love) . An English version can be found here.

The songs alludes to Surah 49:13 in the Quran: “O mankind! Truly We made you from a male to a female into nations and tribes that you may know each other.” DNA tests prove that every human being alive today shares a common ancestor. As I mentioned in my post “Ethnocentrism in Evangelicalism” when I referenced the Tower of Babel, God allowed different nations, languages, and cultures to develop so that there would be multiple perspectives, like different facets of a diamond. I will add here that this saves us from our blind spots. Here is a great quote: “He doesn’t know England who has only England known.” Personally this ayah(verse) from the Quran is one of this Christian’s favorite quotes from any religious text. It teaches that learning about other cultures is a moral thing to do; that were are all equal; that we can learn how each other, rather than war against each other. And that is beautiful!

I will conclude with the refrain from the song Laskar Cinta:
Warriors of love
Spread the seeds of love throughout the earth
Go and destroy the virus of hatred
That makes people’s hearts sick and depraved
By corrupting their souls.
Warriors of love
Teach the mystical science of love
For only Love is the eternal truth
And the shining path for all God’s children.

As the Ahmadi Muslims say, “Love for all; hate for none.”


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Christian, freethinker, believer, skeptic, seeker.

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