I wish I could hate them.
In ways, it would be so much easier.
Their violence, racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, xenophobia, greed, exploitation of the poor, the anything-to-win-politics and indiscriminate, consumption of the planet and each other. I hate the scapegoating, half-truths, spins ... all the bullshit. I hate the value of winning at all costs - especially at the expense of the poor and voiceless while doing so with feigned divine legitimacy to their destructive behaviour.
I wish I could hate them.
But I can’t.
I could probably have an easier time hating them if they were all bad. But that’s the problem. They aren’t all bad. As I lean deeper into this enemy love thing, I discover real people who love their families well, people who live generally but inconsistently moral, peaceful lives. People who are sincere and generous - pillars of the church and the community. People with great BIG blind spots!
The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either -- but right through every human heart -- and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained.
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Getting to know these people I recognize their wounds, blind spots, and general fuck’d up-ness. I get a glimpse of their worldview, their demons, their fears, and their struggles. I understand for most of us it really isn’t about what is true rather what confirms our gut feelings - fears, bias’ and hatred. I know all too well that this is the context from which we all live.
I recognize their humanity.
And this is the problem. I recognize myself in them. Maybe not their particular hurts, fears, and bias but my wounds, bias’ and yes, general fuck’d up-ness. So if I am doing the best I can with what I have, I have to believe they are too. So maybe what I feel towards them is not hate but grief. It is grief I experience when I catch a glimpse of my shadow self in the mirror of life. It is grief because I realize that it is both me and my enemy at the foot of the cross. I realize that it is both me and my enemy that Jesus looks at from the cross and cries out "Father forgive them, they don't know what they are doing!"
Enemy love is so hard. I have written that I don’t believe the cliche’ ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ because I don’t think we do this authentically well, generally speaking. I know I don’t do this well - it’s really, really hard. As much as I may hate a lot of their views and actions, I fight tooth and nail resisting the temptation to lose myself into hate-inspired dehumanizing of people.
To dehumanize our enemy, we dehumanize ourselves...
Even worse, there is a risk that we can become like those we resist, propagating retributive, eye for an eye violence - feeling quite justified in doing so. This will not get us where we need to be. We can argue aggressively, protest ideas and actions but we must resist the desire to dehumanize people we passionately disagree with. We must resist becoming like our enemy as we seek to resist our enemy. We must reject the cup of bitterness and hate. This cup is toxic and will sabotage our best intentions - it alienates and greatly hampers legitimate justice, reconciliation, and healing.
In a polarized, eye for an eye culture with its viscous all or nothing dualism it is dangerous to walk the between space - the space between wholehearted or passive approval of what people do and outright demonization of people.
Our call is to make beautiful but this is not done by weaponizing truth to dehumanize the other, after all, what does it prosper a person to gain the whole world and lose their own soul? It is to this end that I return to self-emptying love. I am painfully reminded that I can’t displace evil with evil, hate with hate, violence with violence. This is not some call to spiritualized passivity - Resist, Resist, Resist evil. How we resist is what is key. In its most scandalous, subversive sense we turn the other cheek, we go the extra mile, we resist hate with tenacious love.
Love well. Love courageously.