Bring love even when the darkness of hatred surrounds you
We found ourselves recently in the season we call Valentine's, the time when we are called to celebrate love.
While in this season we often celebrate romantic love, it is also a celebration of love in its various forms and on many levels. I recall this season as a kid when Valentine's were given not only to classmates but to parents and anyone, we thought needed a little love.
As I ponder this season, I find myself asking, where is the love, not the eros, or the philia but the agape love? That is the concerned for all of humanity because that is what God calls us to; the kind of love that allows us to have concern for others, desiring the very best for them because of our God connectedness.
In the midst of all the beauty that surrounds us, it is as if we the people are living in darkness.
In this past season of sharing love, which coincided with African-American History Month, my heart ached. It ached when I heard the threats against Historically Black Colleges and Universities because of hate. It ached because in the two years since the death of George Floyd, supposedly the game changer, we still experience the unjust deaths of innocent black youth and young adults. The most recent was Amir Locke, whose only crime was sleeping on the sofa in his apartment.
My heart ached when I heard and saw politicians in this 21st century roll back the hands of time with legislation that limits the Black vote.
My heart ached, and it was hard to feel the real love of this past Valentine's season.
Yet will I hold on to the Hope, for I am reminded from scripture, “the people living in darkness have seen a great light, on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."
It is incumbent that we, the people of color, those from “marginalized” communities, in our quest for justice, exemplify love. We must become the light in this dark and unjust society.
Martin Luther King Jr. declared: “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”.
This is a great challenge, for how do you love one who has his knee on your neck and will not remove it even in the midst of a cry of “I can’t breathe?” How do you love one who unjustly kills your children and seek to call it justice? How do you love one who bombs your synagogues without the care for the life within? How do you love one who will threaten to destroy your institutions of higher learning, the place that is the great equalizer, or pervert a legal system that is called to serve all people equally? This is a great challenge indeed.
However, we are called to be the salt of the Earth and the light of the world.
That’s a call to be a change maker in this world. As we engage one another for the sake of a better world, a better life for "all" of humanity, we do it in the spirit of love, being light in the world. That’s worth fighting for.
Let us not only find the love, but let us share the love and freely. I pray that we can find that childlike love within that loves unconditionally and always, and that we find the value in the lives of African-Americans and all persons of marginalized communities every day, all year long. Therein lies the hope for love.
The Rev. Donald Brewington is the University Chaplain at Huston-Tillotson University. Doing Good Together is compiled by Interfaith Action of Central Texas, interfaithtexas.org.