Letter to the Editor | Thursday, November 10, 2016
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” -Yoda
The dark side is present today.
Those of you who know me probably know that the rhetoric of Trump deeply opposes my belief in preferential option for the poor, the marginalized, the migrant, the minority, the suffering.
But I will not hate Trump supporters. I will not give in to hatred.
I admit that I am afraid. I am afraid of what will happen in the next four years. I am afraid of how a Trump presidency will impact the poor, the marginalized, the migrant, the minority, the suffering. I am afraid of how a Trump presidency will impact those I love who are children, women, LGBTQ, Arab, black, Latino, Muslim, refugees or immigrants. I am afraid of how a Trump presidency will impact the world. I am afraid of how a Trump presidency will impact me.
Yet, I am afraid as well that my fear will lead me to hate, will lead me to hate the people who voted for Trump. If I give in to hating an entire group of people, how am I better? How am I different? How will more hate rid hate? (Luke 6:27-36, for reference.)
At the end of the day, this election is full of people who are afraid on both sides of the political binary. People who are afraid of the world and of each other. Thus leading them to being angry at the world and at each other. Leading them to hate the world and each other. If this continues, I don’t know where we will be in the centuries to come. I don’t know if there will be anyone around to know anything.
Last night, my friend and I sat together and discussed politics. She said, “I don’t tell you a lot because I think you’ll disagree.” I told her, “Well, why don’t you tell me? I might surprise you.” So I listened and put myself in her shoes to try to understand her perspective. I think I surprised her.
We talked further and agreed that the fact that we knew that we respected and loved each other made it easier for us to challenge each other. Our known love and respect made it easier for us to listen to each other’s criticisms and reflect critically without getting angry or defensive. It made it easier for us to — dare I say — change each other’s hearts and minds.
I want to believe that my friend and I are just two of many, that what occurred between us last night is a hint of some greater opportunity. Dorothy Day said, “It is love that will burn out the sins and hatreds that sadden us.” I want to believe that love can burn away the hatred in our world right now. I want to believe that we can surprise each other by listening to each other, by loving each other, by empathizing with each other, and maybe then, we can come to allow all of our hearts not be filled with fear or anger or hatred.
This goes beyond politics. Fear and hatred of the “other” permeates all sorts of interactions, actions, opinions, and social structures. It is easy to love those who are like us, who agree with us. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? It is comfortable to continue surrounding ourselves with people who agree with us and continue looking down on the “other” from afar. But I agree with Pope Benedict XVI when he said, “the world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
So I will continue to love those who most need it. I will continue with renewed fervor to support and champion the poor, the marginalized, the migrant, the minority, the suffering.
And I will continue to love all I encounter. I will in try in my actions and deeds to love those who hurt me, who hate me, who persecute me, who scare me. I will pray that maybe they will open their hearts up to love too. I pray that I will surprise them. I pray that they will surprise me. I pray that we will surprise each other.
Please. Please surprise me.
Editor’s note: Gabriela Leskur served as The Observer’s Viewpoint editor from 2014-2015.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.