In social work we talk a lot about resiliency. The idea behind promoting “resiliency” centers on the belief that universally we all experience things that “shock us, disorientate our dreams and goals, and cause severe emotional harm.” The goal of resiliency is to give clients tools to make them stay strong during these “emotional storms” and remain on a path of personal progress.
The scriptures are filled with stories and examples of Christ encouraging the early Christians to be resilient in the face of a society built on oppression and division. Like the early Christians, it’s not unfair to claim that Christians today need to reflect on how to maintain resiliency when approached with societal evil.
This coming Sunday, August 12, a group of self proclaimed “white nationalists” will be assembling in Washington D.C. in an attempt to “unite the right.” You may remember this cast of alpha male characters from such tragedies as last years “unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville Virginia. That rally ended with several injuries and the death of one young woman.
There is much speculation in the news that the rally this weekend will end in a similar way. It’s reported (https://www.thecut.com/2018/08/unite-the-right-rally-washington-dc.html) that the D.C. police are preparing, strategizing, and bringing in help from outside police forces to prepare for both right wing and anti-fascist protesters. I pray for peace, but in all honest expect there to be war.
As the husband of a beautiful biracial woman and father of four biracial children I worry deeply about race relations in our country. Fans of the current President might call me a “typical progressive “snowflake” and chalk up my sensitivity to issues of police brutality, racial discrimination and hate, as just typical characteristics of a liberal. However, I’ve seen first hand how deeply scared by racism my wife’s side of the family (the African American side that is). I have experienced their fear of a passing police car, fear of being labeled by white people as “other”, and have felt how deeply devastated they are by the scares of America’s “original sin.”
With all that being said, I have to confess that I too feel hatred for those that will assemble in Washington D.C. to promote hate. I feel pride in those protesters that will show up to counter these voices of hate. However, as a Christian that tries to emulate Christ, I feel deeply conflicted over these feelings. Those racist individuals that will show up to dispense their ignorant hatred are no less our brothers and sisters than the progressive voices that will be there speaking truth to power.
While thinking about this I immediately thought about the words John spoke in the Bible. In 1 John 2: 9-11 we see John telling the early Christian Church that“9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”
John is really speaking to individuals such as those in the “Rise Above Movement” (RAM) who believe that America has been distorted by “race mixing” and the expansion of Islam in the United States. John is speaking to those men and woman in RAM who believe that sometimes “you have to fight liberals in the streets.” John recognizes that these individuals are guided by darkness. These people have become blind.
Martin Luther King has famously told us that “hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that” and I truly think that is also what John would have us understand in his scripture. We need to love the “hell” outta people that will be going to D.C. in an effort to expand their racist ideology. We need to love these people who have turned to hate and let the light and love of the Holy Spirit overcome the darkness that has clouded their lives.
So while I support the protesters who will be there to offer a “counter narrative” to the right-wing nationalists I pray that they do so with the understanding that in the war against hate only love will offer peace. Hate and darkness are hell bent on destroying us. I pray that this weekend does not turn in to a “bloody Sunday” and that the love of peace, understanding, and unity reigns. I pray for the Right. I also pray for the Left to be successful and for D.C. to be under the watchful and merciful hand of God this weekend. We must be resilient and continue spreading love.