To: The Haters

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I am tired of your hate; tired of the vitriol that inspires the murder of a woman working for a better world; tired of your homophobic self-loathing that slaughters 49 people simply for being themselves; tired of divisive rhetoric that is called public debate; misogynistic language laughed off as banter ('Come on love, get a sense of humour'); of unsocial media trolls who threaten rape and violence with impunity because I dare to express a different view to theirs. I'm tired of your anger that blares the car horn, gesticulates and swears; spills your rage uninvited into my personal space all because I reached the line (whatever that might be) ahead of you. And I am weary beyond measure that you evoke the name of Allah, Yahweh, God, Mohammed, Krishna, and Christ to be the inspiration of your thuggery.

You see I am a follower of Jesus. Jesus commands me to love: love my neighbour, love my enemies. So I will try to love. There are many platitudes being spoken at the moment about love overcoming hate but what does that mean? What does it look like?

In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird there is a scene where the books hero Atticus Finch, a middle aged lawyer, is sitting outside the jailhouse with a loaded gun in his lap. Inside is Tom, the man Atticus tried to defend but who was convicted by a jury of rape. Tom is innocent, everybody knows he's innocent but Tom is black and the woman who made the accusation is white and so Tom must pay. A mob arrives with every intention of lynching Tom and except for Atticus they would do. It is into this tense standoff that Scout Finch, Atticus' young daughter arrives. Atticus desperately tries to send her home but Scout recognises one of the mob as her friend's dad and goes over to chat. It is in that moment that everything changes. Suddenly these men are not a mob but fathers, husbands, neighbours, members of a community; they are human beings. And realising each other's humanity they disperse peaceably.

Perhaps the way to love is to actually see people. The labels we wear — colour, nationality, religion, gender make us who we are but they are not all that we are. First and foremost we are human beings -children, brothers, sisters, parents, friends. In the words of the late Jo Cox MP 'There is far more that unites us than divides us'.
So I will love.
I will love by being open to those I do not understand.
I will love by respecting the person who holds views different to my own even as I oppose him.
I will love by not feeling a personal slight when I have missed out to another.
I will love by remembering that your anger may have a very valid cause that is not me.
I will love in small ways believing it is the only power for change.
I will love because that is what my faith calls me to do.

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