If you just hate the people who start wars, you’re ultimately no better than they are.
The cultural reality is that political conservatives are more likely to advocate going to war — especially during a Republican administration — and progressive leftists are more likely to express strong hatred for warmongers — if they happen to be Republicans.
And those two sides hate each other. The “pro-war” people and the “pro-peace” people both tend to be full of hate. There‘s something fundamentally wrong with that.
I detest Donald Trump. I had a strong disregard and disrespect for the man long before it was ever suggested that he run for president. He is a loathsome and dysfunctional liar and narcissist. His ego and his lack of political skills might be leading us into a war right now — a war which I don’t want.
But I do not hate Trump. I don’t hate the Iranian crowds who are chanting, “Death to America!”
Even if I detest the actions of people on both sides, I am making the difficult choice to love them — because hatred is what puts us where we are right now.
Very few people today seem interested in understanding those who disagree with them. The attitude seems to be that “those people” are obviously wrong and stupid and evil, no matter which side you’re on.
The truth is that intelligent and well-meaning people can disagree with one another, but if they don’t take the time to understand their differences, it’s easy to take the path toward dehumanization and hatred.
Tonight, I see a lot of hatred all around. A lot of conservatives are expressing hate for the Iranians and expressing the desire to “nuke ’em ’til they glow.” A lot of anti-war people are expressing hate for Trump and John Bolton and a whole host of characters who they blame for putting us where we are.
But if you want peace long term, it has to be about more than just being against something. It has to be about working for something positive. And as hard as this is to hear on a night with a lot of fear and anger in the air, that something positive is love.
If you’re a Christian, it’s wise to take Jesus seriously when he tells us to love our enemies. In the Sermon on the Mount, he was very clear about this.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’” Jesus said, according to the Book of Matthew. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
As far as I can tell, that applies to Trump and it applies to Iranians.
I don’t want a war. I don’t support or admire the politicians — from various administrations going back for a century, both Republican and Democratic — who have created this conflict. But I don’t hate any of them.
I want real peace — and real peace has to start with me. I have to love these people, whether I like them or agree with them or not.
I hope you will consider the idea that peace and love have to start with you.