If you believe that love is humanity’s greatest hope and clearest path to a more compassionate inclusive planet, how are you feeling right now? When people seem to be hating one another with greater intensity. When rage and violent outbursts are becoming more common. Those who wear masks vs. those who refuse to; those who believe Black Lives Matter vs. those who deny it. Science vs. religion, Democrats vs. Republicans, health and safety vs. economic “recovery.” Individuals of different races, ages, nationalities, and belief systems fighting over statues and guns and face coverings. Where does unconditional love and kindness come into play in the midst of all this? Can we love our neighbor if our neighbor hates us?
These are questions humanity has considered for hundreds of years, but now they seem to be coming to a dramatic crescendo, particularly in the U.S., a country supposedly founded in the principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Yet the reality is that those words applied to white male slave owners and no one else. The land of the free was in truth based in systemic racism that continues to this day. Racial hatred that continues to this day. A hatred so deep that rather than let go of it, people start inventing a world of “hoaxes” and “fake news.” Is it possible to live with love in the midst of so much conflict and intolerance?
Martin Luther King Jr. did. John Lewis and countless civil rights workers did. Gandhi, Peace Pilgrim, and so many others did. Every individual who lives a life of integrity and compassion while being demeaned daily lives love in the face of hate. African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Muslim Americans, Mexican Americans. Women of all races, the LGBTQ community, all immigrants. There are lives of courage everywhere among us, inspiring us with their commitment to life. To be alive is to love life so powerfully that you keep on living in spite of everything. At this time in history, we are being asked to stand strong and keep on loving in the same way. Against enormous odds.
There is a rift in the fabric of this country that won’t be easily sewn back together. A Presidential election can’t completely address the extent of it. Laws won’t fix it. Religion won’t mend it. Justice and restitution won’t entirely resolve it. It is a wound and a splitting so deep that it can only be healed at the level of the heart: Loving what is hated, on both sides of the divide. We have to love living in peace with one another more than anything else, including our own viewpoints. A seemingly impossible challenge.
Yet we chose this lifetime, this time of tumultuous change and upheaval. We came here to this troubled planet to heal the wounds of centuries, to bring peace to a world split by wars, internal and external. We came here to finally look in the eyes of our “enemy” and see a human soul, to choose compassion over power and empathy over antipathy. We came here to continue to love through every impossible challenge that shows up. Because at some point, some unknown and hard-to-imagine transformative moment, we will reach a tipping point, everything will shift, and humanity will know oneness again at last. That is the dream. Can you hang on until we reach it? Can you fulfill the promise you made before you were born: Can you keep on loving?
Listen to Valarie Kaur, an inspiring Sikh American activist, who speaks with hope about these times: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ7QlKG70LE