What do we “do” about Trump voters and supporters? What should be done about all of those in attendance at the D.C. rally last week? What shall we “do” about all of those that we have individually and collectively tattooed with labels that separate them from us?
I have seen calls for “cleansing” to take place. Social media moguls have decided upon censorship for those who don’t think like “us.” And too many social media posts have been abundantly detailed with the best way to seek revenge on those who dared to hold a view contrary to, well, your view. So really, if you’re a Christian and you consider yourself a decent human being, the easy answer here is that we should condemn these folks to hell. Punish them. Tar and feather them. Walk them down the streets and shame them while driving pitchforks into their sides. You know, the followers of Jesus ought to act like those who crucified Jesus, if we want to prove that we are good Christians, after all.
You see, hatred has been normalized in my life and because of that, love cannot provide us with any sort of recompense. Calling for love to be the antiseptic to the wound is just too trivial for most folks. You’d have to be bat-shit crazy to think that love would provide any healing.
But wasn’t Jesus bat-shit crazy? This radical sandal-wearer walked around insisting that we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. This crazy mother-trucker insisted that violence wouldn’t bring us together, but seeing our enemy as our neighbor, as someone we love like God, could.
I understand why Jesus didn’t have that many followers in the beginning. He showed them what love looked like in such a way, that they could hardly believe it. Jesus revealed the truth in such a way, that it pulled at their hearts. Many couldn’t bear it. Why couldn’t they bear it? Why couldn’t anyone actively imagine that there was potential in loving others instead of hating others?
No Love Until You Know Love
If you ask me, it’s because these people didn’t know love. They were untouched by love. Jesus walked around meeting everyone as they were, seeing into their hearts, listening to them, validating their existence. The words he would utter to those who sought his help were intentional and came as a result of seeing their divinity. He saw that they were love, pulled that image out of their hardened hearts, and reflected it back to them, like a mirror. He saw what they could not see, but once they saw it, it transformed them. Jesus touched them, he touched love inside. It was as if a dormant seed suddenly sprang forth to life and began to grow inside of them.
Love is also not an easy phenomenon to engage. It comes out of nowhere and rams into you like a semi-truck on the freeway. It smashes all your senses and discombobulates your reason. Of course, people are afraid of it! It’s an explosion of accident and attention all at once. What the heck do we do with energy like that when it surges?
For many, love is inconvenient, and not in a good way. Love requires time, energy, attention. It seduces us into calmer states. Love beckons us to give and give and give. Love itself is not an inconvenience. Love is selfless and harmless. It is inconvenient to the systems of the world, however. In the United States, our collective political/economic/sociological machine has established efficacy, productivity, selfishness, greed, power, and control as the gods of our time. We worship the machine of progress and pray to the gods of capitalism and socialism. We recite the hymns of work, work, work, work, work. Love is a resource that cannot be traded, transacted, or offered as a trial service. If you cannot profit from love, it is of no use.
Our society has been touched, repeatedly, by the rough hands of corporatism, capitalism, communism, consumerism, and competition. Raped by the endless thrusting of transaction. Fucked for the sake of supply and demand. And left with a warm, sticky pool of exploitation on our abdomens. Society has turned love into a product.
Love, however, is no product to be kept on shelves. It is not a luxury afforded to only those who have the means to pay for it. Love is a process. A process that requires the slow dance of understanding, the tango of tumultuous trial and error, the mamba of mystery and revelation. We can dance if we want to, but it’s not generally accepted as productive. We want products, not processes. Processes take too long.
This is the conundrum we find ourselves in. Love has been so exploited, that we do not know it. And we mostly reject what we do not know.
Therein lies yet another kerfuffle. If we continue to reject what we do not know, we eventually realize that we know nothing at all. We will then accept nothing at all. We will isolate ourselves. Knowing nothing and saying no to knowing. We know not of love, nor understanding, nor have we felt the touch of sweet surrender to the Other. This is most apparent in the way we opine, comment, and react within our networks of social exchanges and engagements.
And yet, something tells me that if we paused and really thought about it, we actually do know love, we have simply forgotten it. Perhaps this cycle of events pouring out before us is just the opportunity we need to put a new plan into action. The one many so readily reject. Let us try to know love so that we can show love and be love.
Love doesn’t have to decide what to “do” about certain groups of people until love is face to face with the person. Love listens, lets the other know she was heard, and then responds with intentions of love being duplicated and expressed. Love does things differently with all walks of life, all walks of faith, and all walks of the political aisle, too. I am open to the idea that the erotic can transform the political, but only so long as we really do try to embrace and embody all the erotic stands for.
I know that it may seem a pipe dream to believe love is the power that solves all the world’s problems. I know mindfulness teachers like Sam Harris would scoff at such ideals. But neither he, nor the rest of us can deny that we are a hungry bunch of people. We are hungry for something new. We are hungry for a relatable experience, hungry for conversation, hungry for connection. It’s time we took the heirloom seeds of the past and plant them in a new bed of soil in a new season. This will produce fruits that will satisfy our hunger.
Love is like a mirror. It reflects the divinity of the person. But it does something else, and therefore makes this such a difficult task. It shows you where you need to grow. Love shows both perfection and potential. These are the thorns that surround the fruit of love. No one ever said that growth would be pain-free. The thistles and thorns will stick us—it’s challenging to see a reflection of ourselves that we hadn’t expected. But love is unexpected like that.
Cleansing the country shouldn’t sound like such a ghastly and scary practice put into play. If we really want to cleanse the country, if want to rid the country of toxic ideas, let’s start with dismantling hatred. It’s about as useful as anger, and by that, I mean it’s useless. When we get to the root of hatred, we come to find that it must stem from an understanding of what love is in the first place. Don’t most of us agree that love and hate are opposites? Hatred is the absence of love. Therefore, one must know of love in order to differentiate from hate, yes? See, we all do know love, we have just forgotten it. The thing is, I don’t exist in a world absent of love. Neither do you. Love is actually all around us. The idea that hatred can even exist confuses me. But I will save that for another time.
The desire to identify and utilize love as the solution is radical. It’s different. And in my lifetime, I don’t recall a time where it was embraced on a global level. What’s stopping us from making love trend? Why are we afraid to remember that we know love and can easily put it into practice to heal and unite the world?
How can we remember?