A week after the deadly riot in the nation’s capital, I am still struggling with how to react to it. I spoke on Sunday about the spiritual tasks of self-care and imagining the world we want to see –imagining the opposite of the violent, Trump-flag-waving mob that thronged the steps of the capitol building. I also said that we need to find ways to love and understand the people in the mob if we are to move forward. Since preaching those words on Sunday I’ve doubted myself—a response of love seems so weak and inappropriate here.
Then today in my email in-box came the weekly installment of “Braver/Wiser” from the UUA (it’s my favorite email and I encourage you to subscribe to it). My colleague Rev. Kristin Grassel Schmidt is clearly wrestling with the same thing I am, and I love her conclusion. She says,
We may even need to say [to the Trump rioters] "I love you, but I will never agree to disagree on this. Truth is too important to set aside just because it challenges and upset you."
And then she continues,
While I don’t believe we’re called to seek unity with those who committed acts of insurrection and violence, we are absolutely called to continue affirming the fullness of their humanity. Wanting people to be held legally accountable for harmful behavior does not mean we can’t insist that society provide for their basic needs, just as it should provide for the basic needs of us all. Even the most despicable people are still human beings, and are deserving of care. Even those who have committed grievous acts have the capacity to grow, to learn, to experience a change of heart.
I echo Rev. Schmidt’s call for both love and accountability. This is tough love. This reminds me that love is not a weak response to crisis. Love is a fierce response. To hold onto being loving in the face of racist lies that incite an insurrection—this shows that we don’t answer hate with hate. We answer with love. Dr. King, whose memory we honor this month, had this figured out: both the hard spiritual work this requires and the absolute necessity of it. May we be equal to this challenge in these dangerous times.
Spirit of love, you are with me in every aspect of life. You are easy to recognize in the cuddling of my cat, the spark of connection with my children, the embrace of my beloved.
And you are there in the conflicts in my life: the challenging personal relationships I’ve had and the deep divisions over politics and ideology that confront me in the news every day. Your voice, spirit of love, reminds me what is right.
May I be as fierce in my loving in times of conflict, as I am gentle in times of harmony.
May love make a seamless whole of these two, and may I give myself to that whole love unreservedly.
By Allah, Jesus, Yahweh, Great Spirit, Mother Earth I pray. May it be so.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
Rev. Andrew Frantz
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