Last Friday, the Gospel reading at Mass quoted Jesus saying “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house.” –Luke 11:17
Immediately, the image of a map showing 917 active hate groups across the USA came to my mind. The map by The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was on display last year at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Cleveland, which was then hosting This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Era.
The SPLC defines a hate group as “an organization that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.“
I remember standing there horrified and shocked that our country—which I had been taught and had believed was founded on the principles of equality, freedom, and justice for all—could be home to hate groups such as those who exterminated millions of Jews less than a century ago. There were things we were not taught, but are also part of our history—the slaughter of the native peoples of the Americas, the Black Holocaust where millions of black people died in the slave ships bound for the Americas; the internment camps for the Japanese. So it was a painful realization that my country was not really founded on “justice for all.”
But is this the future we want to hand on to our children? –A future where any class of people is singled out for persecution or extermination? We see it in our own past and present, continuing around the world—humans doing inhuman things to other humans. Divided we fall.
Citizens of the Americas have come from every part of the globe. Our strength and richness flows from the diversity of gifts shared among us—not only ethnic foods, but health care and safety professionals, educators, technology and engineering experts, everyday laborers, service providers, and countless others. Even our United States Armed Forces are made up of citizens whose origins range from every continent. United we stand.
As we were praying for our country and our world this morning, Cathy Arnold, OP shared with me a song by Jesse Manibusan that lifted my spirit and inspired me with hope—Hold on to Love. Pat Twohill, OP had shared it on Facebook. It should go viral. Some of his lyrics are:
“When pain and confusion seem endless, hold on to love.
We cultivate healing through kindness; hold on to love….
When terror and fear overwhelm us, hold on to love.
Courage and faith will sustain us; hold on to love.
When violence seeks to destroy us, hold on to love.
Acts of compassion restore us; hold on to love…
When hatred is used to divide us, hold on to love.
Wisdom and truth reunite us; hold on to love.
When prejudice poses as freedom, hold on to love.
Dignity means all are welcome; hold on to love….”
I invite you to listen to this song, and pass it on. Go to: http://youtu.be/v-5I8ZGklN4