To combat the hate in the world we have to love deeply, and more deeply than the ‘haters’ hate. In fact, we need to love with conviction. Anna, one of my readers, made the comment last week that “hate is exhausting, Love is rewarding.” The rewards come through a spiritual practice helping you move away from hate and towards loving with conviction.
If you think this is not possible, consider Arno Michaleis. He was once a violent white supremacist who admits to some of the terrible things he did and describes how he changed in his book “My Life After Hate”. In a recent Washington Post article he said, “Love is the most effective means to draw people from hate. Kumbayas aside, there are dynamics as sound as any law of physics to back this up. Hate and violence are cyclical things. More of either can only fuel the cycle. This is not a problem that we can punish our way out of.”
He is right, more of either hate or violence brings only more hate and more violence. So, how can we break this cycle? I would like to propose to you that there are two tools within most spiritual practices that will be critical for your success at loving with conviction. They are meditation and developing your willingness to forgive.
When I get out of bed in the morning my hair is wild. Sometimes it looks like the crown of a rooster, sometimes the mane of a lion, but never suitable for leaving the house without a wash and dry! My mind would be in the same state of disarray if I left without connecting to the stillness and deep sense of peace found in meditation. Like bathing, daily meditation washes away my stress. Morning meditation, or prayers if you like, sets a solid mental foundation preparing you for the day and clearing the fog of all that has gone before.
Forgiveness is the component of spiritual practice which reminds you that the face you look into is just another version of your own. See the other person with kindness and compassion and you give the same to yourself. The difficult part is forgiving every single person, including the ISIS fighter, for whatever wrong doing you think they did. Forgiveness works within you first helping you to let go of anger, hate, and fear. It can even create a space in which miracles, and healing, can happen. I remember seeing a story on the news of a woman who became friends with the man who murdered her son. It didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t happen in one fell swoop. But through her forgiveness she opened a space for both of them to view the situation differently and come to agreeable terms on how to move forward, in this case, together as friends.
Even more recent, as Anna reminded me, were the recent events in Charleston, South Carolina where several churchgoers were murdered in a hate crime. The community came together, showing solidarity, and openly forgave the shooter despite their losses. This is huge! How can you not be excited about it? Are you ready to be a part of this movement to love with conviction? It’s not hard to do, it just takes a little persistence. Join me, Anna, the people of Charleston, and so many others, in making a conscious choice for love today.
Transcending hate, of any sort, leaves behind its counter parts of fear and worry, filling the void with love. But can we really neutralize the ‘haters’? What do you think? Share your thoughts on Facebook, I’d love to hear from you.