"The antidote to hate is not love.
A Chicago neighborhood group has started a yard sign campaign that I’m going to join. The yard sign (depicted in the above picture) simply states: Hate Has No Home Here and does so in several languages. Getting the sign is a little bit cumbersome. You have to go to their website and download the artwork to a thumb drive. Then you have to take the thumb drive to a printer and have the sign printed. Ok, several steps – but worth the time and effort I think.
There are a couple of things I like about this. One, it makes a statement that our home won’t tolerate hate, bigotry or violence. Another is that it helps remind me that peace is more than a sign; it is a commitment to a lifestyle. If I have the sign in my yard, then I need to walk the talk. I must stand up to hate when I see it. I must speak up to bigotry when I’m around it. I must actively work against those who foster hate to advance a regressive political agenda.
As the sign says, Hate Has No Home Here – but neither does complacency. If you choose to put this sign in your yard, then I beg you to not let that be all you do. Certainly, it is a good first step but it needs to be more than that. Put the sign in your yard and then…
We must be mindful that hate comes in all guises. I know people who think of themselves as “good Christians” but who “hate” Muslims or abortionists or illegal immigrants.
I know good liberals who “hate” Donald Trump or his supporters.
I know good Catholics who “hate” the current pope because he is too liberal.
Part of this effort should be an examination of conscience to see whether each of us harbors hate in our hearts in ways and places to which we are blinded. I know that I often need to remind myself that certain politicians are really people who are loved by God but who have not yet found the way to hear God’s voice speaking from their heart. I must remind myself (sometimes daily) that I should be praying for them instead of hating them. And I do pray for them. I pray that their hearts and minds will become open to the whisper of God’s love and justice bubbling up from their soul. But I also work hard to oppose their policies; especially those that impact most the unprotected in our society.
Hate Has No Home Here, but neither does complacency about the actions of hate or the impacts of hateful policies. The antidote to hate is not love. The antidote to hate is love in action.
Michael Soika has been a community activist for more than 30 years working on issues of social and economic justice. His work for justice is anchored by his spiritual formation first as a Catholic and now as a Quaker.