"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This past weekend, a US Representative was shot in the head along with several of her aides and some innocent bystanders. There are those who are saying that it was politically motivated as the Representative was a Democrat who supported healthcare reform, an issue that has been the subject of much debate in this country. There are others who say that this was simply a random act of violence committed by a mentally ill individual. I'm not going to posit on here about which side I believe nor am I going to turn this blog post into a political debate about who's right and who's wrong on these issues. Instead, I just wanted to take a minute to share my thoughts on the act itself.
Can I just ask, what kind of people have we become when we start to resort to violence against those who disagree with us politically?? Is this really the kind of future we want to give our children and the lessons that we want to impart to them, that if you don't agree with someone else's political or religious or social or ethical beliefs that you can just go shoot and kill them?? Surely that is not something that anybody finds acceptable or justifiable. Yet, this is not the first time that something like this has happened and neither will it be the last time. I may not like or agree with certain politicians or religious leaders but I would never advocate that they be taken out. Unfortunately, I fear that the vitriol that is spewing out of so many would argue with me there. It's hard not to be confused when certain politicians and religious leaders are talking about how certain people who they disagree with need to be eliminated and taken out. Their rhetoric makes it sound like they believe whole-heartedly in that message. I'm not going to name names or point fingers but there are definitely some people in power out there who advocate or at least seem to advocate violence against others and so are trying to start up a riot or rebellion of some sort.
What is the Christian response to all this?? I certainly don't think that Jesus would be telling us to shoot and kill those who disagree with us. Somehow, that's not the message I got from the Jesus of the New Testament. After all, isn't he the one who said love your enemies and when somebody slaps you, turn the other cheek?? That was him, right?? So, then I fail to see how any Christian can rationalize violence against another person no matter what form it might take. No war, no shooting, no genocide, no death penalty execution can ever be justified using the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. That is the truth that I believe in and accept. He is called the Prince of Peace for a reason.
What ever happened to loving others?? Who is out there preaching the rhetoric of love and reconciliation? Hate has no place in our modern-day society and especially has no place in the Christian Church?? It's one of the reasons why I stopped being a Christian for a while. I couldn't handle hearing all the hatred that was being spewed out there. In the wake of 9/11 especially, there was a lot of hate and vitriol being spewed about the Muslim religion most of which wasn't true. The Christian faith needs to be the voice of love in opposition to all the hate. Anyone who claims to be a Christian and then preaches hatred or bigotry or violence is not a follower of the Jesus I follow and believe in. The only thing that can bust through the hate and vitriol is love. Nothing else can do it. It's time that those who call themselves Christians actually start living that message and showing others the love of God and the power that that love can have in one's life. It won't do any good for us instead to shoot back or start killing those who disagree with us. That way will only lead to more violence and bloodshed and I think we can all agree that there has already been too much of that.
Both sides, Democrat and Republican, have been guilty of this so please don't take this as a screed against one side or the other. While I myself am a Democrat (usually!!), I also acknowledge that the Democratic Party is just as guilty of doing this as the Republican Party. Both sides need to tone down the hate and amp up the love. Let's cross party lines and show that no amount of vitriol or rhetoric is going to prevent us from spreading the love. Don't hate that person down the street because they are a Muslim. Don't pretend to ignore that homeless person just because they are black. Don't attack somebody or shoot them just because they happen to have voted for a Democrat. Violence only breeds more violence and love only breeds more love.
I'm not a theologian or a politician. I'm just a 20-something male who is quite frankly tired of hearing all the messages of hate and anger. I'm also not a prophet so please don't start treating me as one. I just really felt like I needed to get this off my chest. Perhaps you will disagree with what I've said here. That's ok, I realize that I have said some pretty controversial things in this post. However, no amount of disagreement is going to make me back down from this stance. Love each other, or perish.