Monday, November 2, 2020

Far Too Dangerous: The U.S. Elections, Violence, and Love

Half Dome, U.S. Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Out
of a great need
we are all holding hands
and climbing.

Not loving is a letting go.

Listen,
the terrain around here
is
far too
dangerous
for
that.

- Hafiz

Here in the US, pre-election, I hear the words "civil war" being tossed about - as though violence is a real possibility, a real option, in the wake of whatever happens in the next 48 hours or weeks or months. I wonder if we really hear ourselves when we toss those words about? I hear the fear in our voices, that much is clear, but I wonder: do we hear the pain, the loss in those words; the devastation? I can't imagine we do if we're tossing them about so freely.

Then again, maybe those words describe a reality that's already present - a nation divided, at war with its self, ready to cut off its nose to spite its face. I hear the arguments too, on many sides, that sometimes violence is necessary. I hear you.

But, I am an anabaptist. I am dedicated to the way of Christ which I understand to be a way of deep, costly love. Love for enemy, because violence toward another is also, in the end, violence toward my own deepest self.

Do you remember, way back in the beginning of the pandemic, how clear it was that we are all connected - my wellbeing tied up in yours and yours mine? "We are all holding hands," as the poet says. "Not loving is a letting go."

Everywhere around us, the voices of fear are chanting, loud enough to shake the very ground upon which we stand. Yet, the voice of love is here too. Can you hear it? Beneath the tumult, love's voice hums, quiet as the gentle whisper Elijah heard after the wind, earthquake, and fire had passed.

Get out and vote. Work at the polls. Offer a ride to anyone who needs it. I'm not saying this election doesn't matter - I believe it matters very much. I feel, some days, that America is perched on the very edge of a deep well of darkness - not a new darkness, but shadows we have dabbled in and out of since the founding of our country. The terrain is, indeed, dangerous.

We cannot afford to abandon love.

Smile with your eyes, if you can, at the poll workers, the store clerk, your children. Make eye contact long enough to remember that the person across from you - politically, socially, ethnically - is human too. Listen for the whispers of love. Listen harder when fear is loud. Let your actions give voice to love. The terrain around here is far too dangerous for anything less.

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