I do not have the luxury of waiting. I cannot count how many times leading up to the election of #45 I was told “We’ll wait and see” by individuals who refused to see and acknowledge the white supremacy latent in his rhetoric. What surprised me most is that I heard this response consistently from those within the private evangelical christian school I was working at.
I am “those” people he speaks of. Female. Immigrant. Brown. As an Indian woman who is a naturalized citizen, I do not have the luxury of waiting.
Each time a comment is made, a ruling ordered, he proves what I already knew:
He is dangerous.
Fast forward two years and I look at the world around me. I’m exhausted. The barrage of media— stupid comments, rash decisions, cruel statements that have been made create a cacophony of noise. Not to mention all the policy decisions made that are destroying lives, either in one fell swoop or bit by bit.
What does resistance look like in these times? My very existence is dissent, but what more can I do? It seems that the world we are in is latent with fear. I know the antidote–I’m told it’s love. But in the face of these life-ruining policy rulings, love seems insufficient. So I find myself asking: What does love look like in these times? What does it mean to re-imagine love? I will not settle for tropes we have been given that cleverly disguise love as tolerance. I need tenacity to my love, endurance, I need grit as much as I need grace.
Yet in the past few years it seems I have seen two extremes– either a love that screams about “all” things– that we need to be so inclusive that we miss the uniqueness, distinction and importance of the individual. We want to boil love to an inclusiveness that forgets the importance of unique histories, stories and tradition.
Or, a love that is so religious it forgets grace, inclusion and the least of these. But neither of these shows me Jesus. The man who told me there is no fear in love, and more importantly, that love conquers fear.
There is no shortage of comparisons to our current era and that of the Nazi regime. We are constantly being confronted with media showing us the injustices of our nation– separated families, inhumane supreme court rulings and men slayed on the streets, as well as the pain of the world. It’s a time of fear and unknown, yes, but it’s also a time of resilience and hope.
Jesus sees our distinctions, experiences and suffering. He doesn’t pit our pain against one another, asking us to show which is most important. He has space for all our suffering and all our joy. He doesn’t ask me to compare wounds, as if I’m in an oppression olympics. Instead he says that he sees each tear, mourns with me and promises healing will come and weeping is a sowing of things beyond what I can see right now.
He also loves in a way that multiplies.
There is no fear in love. How do I give love space to defeat evil? What does love look like in a time of white supremacy? It’s sharing our resources, extending an encouraging word, check in on our people. It means writing an elected official, making a meal and welcoming another to our table. Where we are tempted to give in the lies of scarcity, competition and insufficiency, let love multiply.
In one of the most often cited texts of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul makes a list of the tangible attributes of love. He begins by telling us that love is patient and elaborates on the way love is embodied in the world. In the face of white supremacy I find myself reimagining this passage on love, speaking out truth against evil. Like the old refrains that remind us what is is to persevere, I’ve added to this list:
Love is present, it doesn’t not ignore injustices it sees for its own comfort.
Love is bold, it speaks truth even when there’s a cost.
Love does not fear- it responds bravely to risk,
Love knows peace requires resistance.
Love is mobilized, it does not stand by.
Love pursues justice, knowing if another suffers, it suffers too.
Love is not motivated by its own gain, but empowers those who have the least.
Love multiplies, it always has room, always makes space, always extends.
Love conquers fear.