Maybe you hear it as much as I do.
“I hate Hillary. She’s so corrupt.”
“I hate Trump. He’s so mean and racist.”
And those are some of the nicer statements. Hate is a word many of us use often, casually. We hate traffic, a professor’s class, legislation, certain foods … and people. For many, there’s no hesitation using the word.
Ironically, experiencing hate is the lesson plan for more love, which is a main reason I wrote Ending Our Uncivil War. Great spiritualists like Christ, Buddha and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught this. In his “Loving Your Enemies” speech, given at the Dexter Baptist Church in Montgomery in 1957, Dr. King engaged the congregation on the Greek definitions of love. He talked about eros, “a sort of aesthetic love . . . a sort of romantic love,” and philia, “the type of love that you have for those persons that you’re friendly with . . . a sort of reciprocal love.”
Then he got to the tough one – agape.
“Agape is more than eros; agape is more than philia; agape is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of men. And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love men, not because they are likeable, but because God loves them. You look at every man, and you love him because you know God loves him. And he might be the worst person you’ve ever seen.”
King’s teaching so moved me that the name of my publishing entity is Agape Publishing LLC. Here’s another excerpt from the book about agape.
Several months [after the election], a close friend texted that “Trump is an abomination of a human being.” OK, I found some of his words and actions were abominations. I texted back, “He is a human being, though. At least that’s what St. Francis, the Buddha and Christ are teaching me, right?” My friend: “Screw em all. Just kidding yer right.”
I recall another conversation with a political operative who holds Dr. King in high regard but said agape is really not possible in today’s political environment. Really, I asked? What about the families who forgave Dylann Roof after he gunned down loved ones in the Charleston church? What about President Obama, who sang “Amazing Grace,” at their funeral? What about Louie Zamperini, who forgave the Japanese prison guard who tortured him and years later carried the Olympic torch not far from the POW camp where he had been confined and beaten repeatedly? What about [Room in the Inn Founder] Father Charlie Strobel, who after his mother was murdered [on the streets grew his mission to serve the homeless across the country]?
Thanks to all who have pre-ordered Ending Our Uncivil War. Thanks also to friends who have connected me to speaking opportunities or asked if I’ll speak to your book club (the answer is yes).