Do we really hate each other? It seems that no matter the venue, hatred is all that people are focused on. People lining up against people, fires and smoke, signs and slogans. If you speak, then it means this… If you don’t speak it means that… If you agree with these people, you must be… If you disagree with those people, you are…
All of us live on the same earth. All of us have aspects of our lives that we had no choice in. Where we were born, to whom, and even when…not our choice. There are many people who hate others, mostly for things that they had zero control over. It doesn’t matter the skin color, the age, the nationality, the gender, the political leanings…hate spews from their souls. And there are no lack of people who feel this way. There is no side that has the monopoly of hate, and there is no side that has the freedom from it. I’m not sure of everything, but I know that the experiences and choices of my life have brought me to where I am. When I decided to enlist in the military, I took the responsibility of that upon myself and for my family. When I married my wife and we decided to have children, I knew that I was making a choice to move forward with being a parent and saying goodbye to other options. When I have chosen to place myself before my family, I have accepted the pain and hurt that causes. My choices affect me and those around me. I also know that the experiences and choices of others will perhaps bring them to different places with different outcomes. I have heard it said that my viewpoints come from a position of privilege, that there are those out there that have not had the opportunities that I have. I am privileged, I don’t deny it. I grew up with two parents who loved me, provided for me, and saw to it that I had the best possibilities for growth that they could provide. I grew up knowing who Jesus is and I was given the opportunity to choose to follow Him early in my life. I met and married a beautiful woman, and have four great kids. I am privileged. But does that somehow make me unable to see hatred, see injustice, give advice, care? It hurts me to see hatred in and around our world, but it doesn’t surprise me. We (this generation, nor even this nation) did not invent hatred. No, it’s been with us from the beginning. And, unfortunately, it will be until the end. But, there is a gift that has been given to all of us. And this is choice. We can’t choose what we look like. We can’t choose who are family is, nor can we choose where we were born. We can’t choose to have a father who loves or abandons. We can’t choose to have a mother who provides or ignores. We can’t choose if we come from a rich family, a line of criminals, a poor background, or a line of great civic servants. We have no choice about those things. But, we can choose how we view ourselves and how we view others. We can choose to follow the ways of hatred, or we can choose to follow the ways of love. And we even get to choose how that is to be expressed and passed on.
My youngest son is a different color than I am. He comes from his own background, culture, and story that is his to tell should he ever wish to. My other children look like I do, though even in them you can see the amalgamation of different genetic ancestors. None of them had any choices in their conception, parentage, or birth. God gave them to my wife and I. I have chosen to love them and to provide for them to the best of my ability. And I often screw up. I have no shortness of things that I could do better, and I am sure that I will continue to mess up. But I love them, more than anything else. So, I see how this current climate of hatred is affecting each of them. I see the confusion and fear that they are feeling. When my wife and I talk about our kids we often talk about all that we want for them is happiness. True happiness. I can’t promise them that nothing bad will ever happen or even that they will have smooth sailing and clear skies, because they won’t. What I can promise them is that they can have happiness. How can that be possible? Psalm 1 says “Happy is the man who does not follow the advice (walk with) of the wicked or take the path (stand with) of sinners or join (sit with) a group of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.” The truth that I have found is that God wants to give us blessings, happiness, and love. You can disagree with me, but I’ve chosen to believe that God’s Word is actual and absolute truth. What I take from this scripture is that instead of doing things contrary to what God’s Word lays out, that instead I should be looking to it and trying to live every moment according to its teaching. And that’s the expectation that I have communicated to my children. They are free to choose how they will live their lives, how they will interact with others, and even how they believe. I completely agree with standing up against injustice, because the Bible stands against injustice. I completely agree with equality, because we are all equal. But, I can’t abide hatred. I can’t sit back and agree with the rhetoric or activism of hatred. I prefer happiness. True happiness that comes from making the best of each and every day, treating others with respect and concern, and choosing love. Sometimes that will mean doing hard things. Other times it will mean putting others ahead of ourselves. But mostly, it means choosing to place God first, in everything we think, say, and do.