The headlines are daunting:
- “Man Yelling Hate Speech on Portland Train Kills Two Men Who Try to Intervene, Police Say”
- “College Student Beaten and Robbed By Masked Men Shouting Racial Slurs”
- “Noose found in National Museum of African American History and Culture”
- “Ethnic Intimidation Charge for Ohio Man Who Threatened Father and Son, Used Racial Slurs”
- “New York Man Turns Himself in After Anti-Gay Tirade and Cane Attack”
- “Police Investigate Anti-Mexican Vandalism at New Jersey Business”
- “Former New York Substitute Teacher Charged with Hate Crime for Removing Second-Grader’s Hijab”
- “Still No Leads in Vandalism of Jewish Cemetery in St. Louis”
- “Woman Goes on Racial Tirade in Arkansas Walmart”
- “LeBron James’ Los Angeles Home Vandalized With ‘N-Word’ Graffiti”
I am distressed each time I hear about an act of hate, like those listed above.
Then, I remember that love conquers hate, evil, sorrow and worry.
And I remember that there are people in the world who refuse to yield to hatred and who rise to a level of love that has within it a redemptive and transformative power.
People like Jennifer Pennington, an Akron, Ohio teacher, who countered the act of hate at LeBron James’ Los Angeles home by placing signs that read “Hero,” Role Model,” “Mentor,” “Humanitarian,” “Leader,” and “Good Samaritan” near James’ driveway at his Ohio home.
People like Ariana Grande, who spread her message of “One Love” during a recent benefit concert for the 22 people who lost their lives and the 119 people who were injured during a suicide bombing at her May concert in Manchester, England. The singer/actress has also spent time with survivors of the terror attack and their families.
People like the group of British Muslims who handed out 3,000 roses on London Bridge as a symbol of love and solidarity in the wake of the terror attack at Borough Market.
People like the diverse group of citizens who united to help clean up and raise money for Jewish cemeteries vandalized in Philadelphia and St. Louis.
People like the more than 28,000 blood donors who gave more than 28,000 pints of blood in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.
People like those involved in the Islamic Networks Group and the 70 interfaith organizations who have partnered to launch a “Know Your Neighbor” campaign, which encourages individuals and groups to encounter people of faith traditions different from their own.
People who share messages of hope, engage in acts of kindness, and give without expectation model for us how to defeat evil, how to overcome hate – by responding with a strong and powerful element of love.
As Christians, we are commanded to love one another. It is not an option. It should be a natural expression of who we are.
The love we are commanded to have for one another is something inward which shows itself in actions – like the “Know Your Neighbor” campaign; the blood donations; the cemetery cleanups; the sharing of roses; the time spent with people in distress; and the display of positive, encouraging signs.
The teacher who planted those signs near LeBron James’ driveway summed it up nicely when she said “It just seemed like the right thing to do to combat the evil, combat the hate in the world.”
Wouldn’t it be amazing if all of us would allow God’s love to flow through us to others as we yield to be vessels and channels of God’s unconditional love?
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.