“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.” From Strength to Love, a collection of sermons and speeches by Rev. Martin Luther King, 1963.
If I had children, or grandchildren, I would talk to them today and try to explain how we carry inside of ourselves many ‘bags‘ of feelings. One of those bags may contain hatred. I would tell them the hate some people put in that bag is toward themselves, making the bag heavy and hard to bear. I would tell them some people put hate they hear from others in their own bag, making it bigger, and when that bag of hate is too big, there is no room for the bags of love, compassion and joy, and it spills out into words and acts of hatred. I would encourage them to never let their bag of hate get big, to fill the bags of love, compassion and joy so there is no room for hate. And to never, ever, put in their bag hatred spilling out from others.
I do not have children, or grandchildren, so I will pray that children everywhere learn to love, feel loved, learn about compassion and feel joy. I will pray they are protected from the hatred of others.
If I had a neighbor whose skin was darker than mine, I would go and sit with them, I would hold their hand, listen to their concerns, fears and anger. I would not tell them I understand their feelings because I don’t, I can’t. But I can empathize, I can show compassion and love. I can feed them and let them know I care.
I don’t have a neighbor whose skin is darker than mine, so I will pray for dark-skinned people everywhere. Pray they know there are those who care, pray for their safety when they feel unsafe, for their peace of mind when they feel fear and anger.
If I had a neighbor who was a cop, I’d tell that person I appreciate what they do when they act as guardian to the children, to my other neighbors, to our community. I would listen to their concerns, fears and anger. I would ask they always listen to their own heart.
I do not have a neighbor who is a cop, so I will pray for people everywhere who work to protect others. Pray for their safety when they feel unsafe, for their peace of mind when they feel fear and anger. Pray they have big ‘bags‘ of compassion. And if they don’t, to step down from their work, for that quality is needed to protect others, to be a guardian of the lives of the children, of my other neighbors. Of people everywhere.
Perhaps you are feeling helpless, or hopeless, angry, overwhelmed, or detached from the events of violence this week, last week, last month, last year…..everyday. Perhaps you do not believe in the value of prayer. Besides political and social action, you can check your own ‘bags‘, be sure your bags of love, compassion and joy are full and that you are not filling a bag of hatred, which is spilling out from many people right now. You can share that love, compassion and joy wherever and with whomever….with children, with your neighbors.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” From Strength to Love, Rev. Martin Luther King