Love in a Time of Hate

Written by Nwamaka Agbo

November 28, 2016

This post marks the launch of MSC’s #Lead With Love pledge.  Sign the pledge today and move boldly forward with fierce love!
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What does it mean to deeply love, protect and care for those closest to you? Those who stand to lose so much in the face of bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia and sexism? What are we willing to do to actively demonstrate our love and solidarity with those who are most vulnerable in these trying times? What does it mean to love someone in a way in which you understand that your wellbeing is inextricably tied to someone else’s safety and dignity?

I’ve had countless conversations with friends over the past couple of weeks where they try to rationalize and make sense of how some of their friends and even family members could knowingly and willing cast a vote for the 2016 Republican candidate. I’ve stood in hallways and listened to undocumented friends, Muslim friends, queer friends and others as they strategized how they would sit at the Thanksgiving table with an uncle, a mother or an in-law that voted for Trump. The sentence usually went, “I know that they love me, they really do, but I don’t know how they could vote for him.” Or, “They keep telling me to just give him a chance” or “Let’s wait to see what he actually does once he’s elected.”

The harsh truth is that this is not love. It is not love when someone knowingly puts you in danger, jeopardizes your safety and wellbeing on a gamble that “he didn’t mean all those things he said during the campaign.” When we love someone, we never intentionally put them in harm’s way. And, if we do so by accident, then we do everything in our might to make things right. When we hurt someone that we love then we do whatever it takes to restore them and make them whole again.

Authentic and genuine love requires embracing the entire and whole person, in all the ways that they choose to identify (or not) and move throughout the world.

In this political moment, we who believe in freedom for all people must love one another with a ferocity that scares off any threats. We must be unabashed and unashamed about who we care for and how we care for them. In this moment, loving one another must be active and dynamic. We cannot waste time being passive and stagnant with how we care for one another. We must always go back to one another, check in, and ask “What more can I do to love you?”

A bold love requires us to turn and face those shadow thoughts that haunt us about one another. We must reach in to feel the tense knots in our relationships and have the challenging conversations that allow us to knead out our disagreements, our misalignments, so that we can continue to love and fight for one another. In this process we may not always come to a place where we completely agree on everything, but at least we can find some resolution that allows people of different strategies and various tactics to stand in their truth with the shared understanding that we are all working to achieve our collective liberation.

Even bringing all our intentionality to a situation, we may still make mistakes and missteps in our attempt to love one another. We are imperfect human beings and that is inevitable. What is telling about our true character and the depth of our love is how we show up after that mess up. Being able to be accountable for how we may impact one another, regardless of our intention, is how we move forward towards mutual reconciliation and healing. Our ability to engage in a two-step dance of taking responsibility and providing forgiveness is what allows us to always return to the side of love after hurt and harm has been done. Committing to the process of restoration is what allows us to grow as individuals, in our relationships and throughout our social movements as we struggle to address pressing problems together.
In this political moment, we have the right to demand that those who care for us love us in the manner that is true for us. We must not compromise ourselves by settling for anything less. Yes, we should be kind and understanding as people learn to love us in the ways that we need, but if someone is unwilling to honor us in our fullness, we must let them go.

Love is actionable: love is lending your gifts and strengths to those in need without hesitation. Love is sharing your resources generously with one another. Love means showing up and placing your body on the frontlines in between those you love and the harm that is coming their way. Love means speaking up at every opportunity to tell the whole truth and historical context of an issues. Love means recognizing and leveraging your privilege to fight for the rights of your loved ones. Love means going out to face the places of hate to defend those you care about. This is what is looks like to move beyond a passive, flippant love, to a fierce and righteous love.

I’m not a religious person, but as a spiritual person, this passage resonates with me deeply in this moment:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7″

In a time of hate, we must love one another fiercely. We must fight for each other’s right to exist in all their glory just as we would want others to fight for us. Our movements need to be rooted in a love based on intersectionality that moves beyond silos and division. Love yourself and love each other often, in every way and everywhere.

Join #Lead With Love:  Pledge to move boldly forward,

grounding our actions in fierce love!

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