The Answer to Hate Is Love

“Love one another.”

It’s an adage so common it can seem trite.

So simple that it’s hard to believe it can matter.

Bad things happen to good people. Sometimes those things are just natural disasters. Floods. Hurricanes. Wildfires.

And sometimes, they’re deliberate actions taken by others—sparked by ignorance, fueled by hatred, and dictated by fear.

Police tape
Photo by Tony Webster/Flickr.com

The recent barrage of bullets in Christchurch is one of those actions: a prejudice-inspired crime that resulted in the deaths of 50 innocent people, slaughtered as they worshiped.

The pain and grief suffered by the victims and their families is overwhelming to imagine. But while we ponder how it is that one human being—any human being—could commit such a heinous act, let us not fail to notice the sympathetic, kind, and loving outpouring that people of goodwill have extended to those suffering from intense pain and grief.

It should come as no surprise that the global religious community has been a major force of support, compassion and love in the face of hate.

  • Within hours of the attack on the New Zealand mosques, close to a thousand people in Australia—Muslims and non-Muslims alike—went to Lakemba Mosque in Sydney to join together in prayer.
  • For the first time in history, the New Zealand Jewish community closed its synagogues on the Sabbath in an act of solidarity with the nation’s Muslims.
  • Stephen Goodman, the president of the New Zealand Jewish Council, said: “We offer our full assistance and support to the Muslim community and stand united with it against the scourge of terrorism and racism, which we must do all we can to banish from New Zealand.”
  • The Christchurch Inner-City Christian Ministers’ Association, an inter-denominational group comprised of Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Catholic and other Christian pastors, issued a joint statement extending their love and support, asking the Muslim community to “Be assured of our continuing prayers as our joint city community and people struggle to understand what has happened in the wake of this unconscionable act.”
  • Members of Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen Auckland, a Sikh volunteer organization, are volunteering to provide food and funeral assistance to Christchurch’s Muslim community.
If there is a lesson to be learned from this unspeakable crime, I feel that it must, indeed, be that simple one.

The outpouring of love and compassion didn’t stop “down under.” Across the globe, solidarity, prayers and kindness were offered by members of all faiths to the New Zealand Muslim community.

  • Sadhana, a progressive Hindu organization, expressed horror and heartbreak at the news of the Christchurch massacre and reminded its members that, “We must all work together [to] eradicate the root causes of such violence: hatred, racism, nationalism, and religious exclusivism.”
  • Shoulder to Shoulder, a U.S. coalition of 35 religious denominations and faith-based organizations, issued a statement calling on people of faith to show solidarity with the Muslim community, urging their supporters to counter the irrational fear shown by anti-Muslim terrorists with education and truth.
  • The Scientology community offered a rapid and heartfelt message to all its members to respond with love, support and solidarity for the Christchurch victims, with International STAND Director Edward Parkin reminding us that, while we cannot take away the pain and suffering of the Christchurch Muslim community, we can and should “ensure that this event brings us closer together, rather than what the perpetrators most want: to drive us apart.”
  • The Unitarian Universalists of Annapolis reminded us that they, too, were praying “for the healing of the members of both mosques, the Christchurch community and the wider world in which diversity, kindness and compassion are the norms.”
  • Across the United States, Interfaith Vigils began over the weekend and continued, as more and more people of faith join together to combat the evils of hatred and fear.
  • Speaking for the international Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, reminded us that, “In Ecclesiastes, we are taught: ‘if one attacks, two can stand up to him. A threefold cord is not readily broken!’ (4:12). Liberation from the plague of bigotry will require moral people of all faiths, races, and cultures to bind together against hateful forces that seek to sow division. We must say, with one voice, that white supremacy, xenophobia, and bigotry have no place in society.”

If there is a lesson to be learned from this unspeakable crime, I feel that it must, indeed, be that simple one.

Love one another.

Truthfully, there is no more effective response to hate.

Love one another. Protect, defend, stand beside and stand up for one another. Cry together, and rebuild together. But above all else, remember to love.

Author

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