Alarmed. Worried. Disturbed.
That’s how many of us have felt during this election cycle. Through the primaries to the general election, we’ve heard candidates saying things that bring shock and dismay. Some have fanned into flame old unextinguished embers of prejudice and nativism. Some have proposed that we impose a religious test on immigrants. Some have advocated religious profiling and monitoring of our own citizens.
Several months ago, I was talking about all this with some friends who are moms of young kids. They were hearing stories about elementary school bullies telling Latino and Muslim children, “You’re going to be deported!”
“Our fellow moms are scared,” one woman said. “They wonder if this could really happen.”
“What are we going to do about it?” I asked. “If we remain silent, we are being complicit in what’s happening.”
“But if we respond to hate, anger, and fear with more hate, anger, and fear,” one friend said, “it feels like we’re just adding to the noise and toxicity.”
“We’ve got to be creative,” another friend said. “We’ve got to try to put that Bible verse into practice: Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
So our creative juices started flowing, and we started dreaming about a different kind of campaign - not for votes, but for attention and action.
We called our campaign “We Stand With Love.” We invited people to take a stand in anxious times, not just against what’s causing harm, but also for the one force that can bring healing. We decided that “we stand with love” would mean caring about people (all people, no exceptions), and especially the poor and vulnerable. It would also mean caring about peacemaking and nonviolence. “Caring about people, poverty, and peace, that has a good ring to it,” we thought. But something was still missing.
In my upcoming book, The Great Spiritual Migration (available September 20), I explore how one other love must be included if we genuinely care about people, poverty, and peace…namely, the planet:
We are finally coming to understand that love for neighbor and love for self naturally lead to love for the earth. If you love your neighbors as yourself, you want both them and you to be able to breathe, so you need to leave clean fresh air. If you love your neighbors as yourself, you want them and you to be able to drink, so you need to love pure water in all its forms. If you love your neighbors as yourself, you want them and you to be able to eat, so you need to care about the climate and about soil and about fisheries, fields, farms, and forests. If you love your neighbors as yourself, you will want all your children and your future descendants to be able to enjoy the beauty of creation too.
If we are people of faith, we’ll realize that just as each work of art is precious to the artist, each bird, tree, fish plant, river, mountain, wetland, ocean, and ecosystem must be precious to the Creator. In other words, we’ll love the earth not only for other people’s sake, but for its own sake, and for God’s sake.
So in spite of all the disturbing campaign-related news we’ve been hearing, I’ve got some good news for you. All around, people are taking a stand for love...love for people, for the poor, for peace, and for the planet. There’s a campaign we can all feel excited about, and there’s a campaign which produces all winners and no losers.
If you want to get involved, go to www.westandwithlove.org and plug into one of the exciting opportunities you'll find there - from learning to "love beyond" through a daily email, through posting a yard sign, through organizing an "ethical spectacle" in your community. And if you want to focus on love for this beautiful planet, go to Blessed Tomorrow and explore getting on the "path to positive."
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