“It makes no sense, Hate .
It’s just fear. All it is.
Fear something different.
Something’s gonna get taken from you,
Stolen from you.
Find yourself lost.”
I have been feeling rather morose the past few weeks. I haven’t slept well. Flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety from PTSD, mostly leftover from Iraq invade at the most unwelcome times. New anxieties unfold as I see friends heading to Afghanistan and see the wounded back at home. Even more appear as I see the situation in the Middle East developing to the point where someone or some nation miscalculates and takes us into an even more catastrophic war. Then there is the incessant political, religious and dare I say racial hatred that has become so manifest in my own country.
The past few weeks have been difficult. The suicide of one of my sailors affected me more than I thought it would. Likewise I looked into the eyes of a sailor accused of cold blooded execution style murder and realized that he felt no remorse.
My sense of foreboding is increased when I see those that should know better, leaders of churches and ministries not only echoing the worst of the peddlers of hate but outdo them by adding Jesus as their trump card. It doesn’t seem to matter what the subject is these “Christian” leaders seem to have little else to do but incite hatred that benefits their political power and influence.
One of the most incendiary of these leaders is Randall Terry who said “Let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good…” I know the man. He believes what he says and he serves as a model to many leaders that have followed in his footsteps. These leaders are some of the most influential religious-political leaders in the nations and dehumanize those that they hate and portray them to be an existential threat to the United States and the “Christian” faith. Gays, Moslems, immigrants, women, “liberals” are not only labeled as their political “enemies” but the enemies of God. It makes it easier to hate and dehumanize people when you can proclaim that they are God’s enemies.
It seems to make a mockery of the Gospel and the words of Saint Paul That “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us” or the words of Saint Peter: “Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing.” It seems to make a mockery of the great love of God to allow Jesus to be sacrificed for the sins of the world.
I despair for the state of the Church when I see prominent leaders spew the most vile hate and “baptize” it in the name of Jesus. Unfortunately that seems to be the new normal in today’s world. Who needs the Afghan Taliban when we have religious leaders acting the same way here?
I have a hard time hating people, even those with whom that I vehemently disagree. Maybe it is because I have seen too much suffering to want to inflict hate and suffering on anyone. Hate as Buck O’Neil said is simply fear. Fear of something different. Those that indulge in it and even revel in it demonstrate that they are not at all confident in their message. Love conquers fear and does not need to demonize or dehumanize those that oppose it. The German Pastor and Martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer said:
“God loves human beings. God loves the world. Not an ideal human, but human beings as they are; not an ideal world, but the real world. What we find repulsive in their opposition to God, what we shrink back from with pain and hostility, namely, real human beings, the real world, this is for God the ground of unfathomable love.”
When I feel as I have over the past few weeks there is one thing that helps me and that is baseball. Tonight I am going to a Morehead City Marlin’s baseball game. The Marlin’s are a team of the independent Coastal Plains League, which is for college players and gives them a chance to play ball in the summer. I can’t watch politics tonight. I need something peaceful. Buck O’Neil, the great Negor League player, manager and major league coach and scout while visiting Washington DC to testify in the congressional steroids hearings looked up at a television where partisan debates were occurring, stopped and said:
“If Willie Mays was up there
People would stop making laws.
They would stop running.
They would stop arguing about
No Democrat or Republican,
No black or white
No North or South.
Everybody just stop,
Watch the TV,
Watch Willie Mays make that catch.
That’s baseball man.”
Tonight is a time for me to reconnect with baseball in person and in the process regain some perspective, remember that love is stronger than hate and that nothing bad accrues from baseball.