The only practical and effective response to hatred is love – radical love
And ever since it has plagued me. How does one find such radical love? On Friday I documented how those that talk so much about love have degenerated into fighting over who is the bigger victim. It is one thing to say love is the answer, it is another thing altogether to practice and do love – particularly in response to hatred. Think about it. Did you follow the link when I said “radical love?” I linked to the passage in scripture when Jesus asks His Father to forgive those that are crucifying Him. I am not Jesus – I am not God – How do I find love that radical? – Love for those that seek your death?
We are in Lent – the season when we reflect on our failings in preparation for the blessing of Christ’s resurrection to come. Which makes me think of something else I said on Thursday:
There have only ever been two responses to hate in history that have been truly effective. One is to simply kill its purveyor. But there is a problem with that – we’d have to kill all of us because sadly, we are all guilty of it at some point.
And so I would lay before you the possibility that the key to finding love this radical is to reflect on our own failure to love – our own hatreds.
If we reflect on our own miserable failings, we find we are still loved. It is easy to say we are not, too easy. There is an interesting comic book series on Netflix right now – The Umbrella Academy. Think X-Men meets Watchmen meets League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and you’ll get an idea of the flavor of the show. I am only into episode four, so I have no idea how the story resolves, but I do know the set-up and it is almost cliché. A group of “gifted” youth are pulled together by a man who seeks to shape their gifts and shape them into a group designed to do good in the world. They reach their teens and most of them decide their “father” is a nasty man for driving them so hard. The story starts when their “father” dies and they are pulled back together after scattering to the breeze and as they gather they are all acting out the rejection they felt from their father in so many ways. As the story progresses they all have flashbacks where we get to see “Father” treating them awfully.
Problem is, that is not what I see, I see a father attempting to help his children become their very best. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, it means setting them up to fail. But does that mean they are not loved? I don’t think so, love wants the best for its object, even if that best is difficult to arrive at. I would be willing to bet that by the end of the show at least a majority of the characters will come to realize that their father loved them deeply, mostly becasue I have read way too many comic books and that’s just how these stories work. But there is a lesson in that.
We learn from our failures. We improve if we overcome our failures. But most importantly, if we can quit focusing on our own pain and start focusing on what is going on around us, we can find the love that is really there. And once we find the love that is given to us, we can pass it on to those around us, even those that seemingly hate us.
So the question for us this first Sunday in Lent is, “Are we willing to examine our failures to find love?” It is hard, but it is rewarding.