The above quote challenges us to love others in a world filled with darkness. It’s a prayer from the heart of a man who knows from bitter experience the destructive power of hate. He sees it in the many who are beaten and killed simply because they dare to speak of a world where we stop hating each other, where no one is judged by the colour of their skin, but rather as Dr. King says, “the content of their character.” Allow this personal comment from Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s I Have A Dreamspeech to sink into your mind, heart and soul. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” What a beautiful world that would be!
There needs to be more love in this world. Hating has become a national problem with the increase in barbaric acts of terrorism and attacks on places of worship, whether it is a mosque, synagogue, temple or church. When will we stop hating each other? When will we learn to live in peace? When will we put down the weapons of war and fight no more? When will we learn to treat everyone as being equal whether they are rich or poor? When will we stop judging others because they act or dress differently from us?
What concerns me is the hate I hear in people’s comments in the local coffee shops. They hate their neighbour. They’re angry at a friend. Someone has hurt them, so they say something to inflict maximum pain in return.
There are those who don’t want the Syrian refugees in Canada. There is a smoldering rage they are getting more benefits such as housing, education and food that fellow Canadians who are suffering the ravages of poverty are not receiving. Thankfully, there are many who welcome these terrorized souls to our shores with open arms of compassion. Yet, it doesn’t need to be a case of either or. We have the capacity to provide for Canadians and Syrians.To do any less would be to not have the caring world leaders like Gandhi, President John F. Kennedy,Malala Yousafzai and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. envision.
It’s so easy to say or do things to others without thinking. Many of us struggle with this. I know I do. Many years ago I make a comment about women in a discussion with my wife and a dear friend. What I say doesn’t come out the right way. The more I try to correct what I’m saying the worse it sounds. My friend makes a motion of digging with a shovel. I still don’t get the message until Karen says to me, “Darling, you’re just digging yourself deeper and deeper. I think you should stop digging!”
When visiting a friend from church his friend says, “Have you ever wanted to take back something you said?” I say with fervent agreement, “Yes! There are times I would have hit the rewind and erase buttons on many of the things I’ve said.”
All of us have those foot in the mouth moments we regret. Perhaps, you hurt someone deeply in your past. You say something to a co-worker you would take back in a heartbeat if you could. Parents, you get angry at your teenager for having drugs in their room. Your anger and disappointment gets the better of you. You say something you don’t mean that is hurtful. Husbands, you say something to your wives in your fatigue, after a tough day at work you’re sorry for. Wives, you make a cutting comment to your husbands. You’re exhausted from sorting out one problem after the other with your children. You have one of those days where everything that can go wrong does. You blurt out a hurtful comment to your husband without thinking. You have a deadline to meet. You take the needed work home. Your wife and children ask for some of your time. You shout out, “I’m busy! Don’t bother me!” You have behaved like Oscar the Grouch. What can you do to show you’re sorry?
In stress-filled lives so many of us have those please erase the stupid thing I said moments. The question is this. What do we do about it when it happens? What we should not do is insist on our right to be right. That will only be met with resistance. When Karen upsets me, I try my best to not let the sun go down on my anger (Ephesians 4:26). After I have prayed for guidance I go to her and say, “I’m sorry, darling. Please forgive me.” Carrying a grudge only adds oxygen to the fire. It keeps the issue an ongoing one, which can destroy relationships. Ask yourself these questions. Is this a hill worth dying on? Is it that important for you to be right?
Think of the conflict that would end if we are willing to say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” A relationship is not worth your right to be right. Karen says to people, “You can be right or be married. ” After you say you’re sorry and really mean it, then the conversation can happen about where you perceive the other person is wrong.
Every day let us all do our best not to hurt others. Be willing to forgive yourself. When we do these things we put out far more love than hate.
Let God’s love in so hate and anger would die.
Kevin Osborne is training to become a psychotherapist, priest and chaplain through St. James the Elder University in Jacksonville, Florida. He and his wife, Karen, plan to open a counselling practice. Karen is taking graduate divinity studies at Trinity College in the University of Toronto. Kevin is planning on taking additional graduate studies there. He is a member of The Word Guild, a Christian writer’s group in Canada.
Our greatest calling is to be servants of our Lord wherever He calls us to go.