Love has no fear, because perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4: 18
One of the consistent themes we at THE 134 PAC hear traveling and talking to people is a sense of fear. Everywhere people are afraid. Even on our recent Rural Road Show with Mothers4Democracy and Blue Horizon Texas, there were times when some folks felt threatened or intimidated in the community we were visiting because they were Democrats.
When we are afraid, our natural instinct is to strike out at our enemies (real or perceived) with vengeance, hate and anger. This is especially true in politics. Politics and politicians in the 21st century count on it and hope to control it and manipulate it for their own purposes. But striking out with more hate and anger is the very response we should not make at these times. Neither should we be intimidated, run away, hide and live in fear.
Responding to hate and anger with hate and anger is involving oneself in a deadly, downward spiral that leads only to one's own destruction—spiritually, psychologically and physically. The response we must make is with love if we ever hope to change peoples hearts, minds or politics. Gandhi understood this. Martin Luther King Jr. understood this. It is a lesson as old as the Bible and other sacred texts. Love is the only force powerful enough to overcome hate, distrust and the political polarization that has engulfed us in Texas, the United States and around the world.
Bless my enemies O Lord, even I bless and do not curse them.
Nikolai Velimirovich (pictured above ) was a Serbian priest who died in Dachau during the reign of the Nazis. He composed a beautiful poem/prayer about blessing our enemies. In that poem he says something amazing, and incredibly difficult for us to hear.
Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself. One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.
The thing we must learn as the minority, as rural Democrats in very Red places, is that the way forward is not to hate our community but to love it and to show that love. You cannot love your community and hate the people in it, especially those who oppose you. If you claim to love your town, or city or community while hating everyone in it that does not think or vote like you, you are only fooling yourself. In that case you do not love your community—you love yourself.
We must learn how to love the most rabid Republican and the most moderate, the most progressive Democrat and the most conservative. This is not easy. It is very difficult. This does not happen overnight. It takes a long time and a committed and conscious effort.
This does not mean that we accept injustice without protest, or remain silent about what we view as being best for our community, state or nation. On those things you should always stand firm and speak out, but still love, and show love. Show love and be friends with whoever opposes you, whether they are a fellow Democrat, a Republican or something else completely. Love cannot be faked and can only grown by frequent contact, conversations and connections. Do not write off your community no matter how bad it seems to you. Engage with it, find joy in it. That is the way we must learn to live out here in most places in the 134. It is also the only way to change them. It is not just about winning elections. It is about growing and building a thriving and wonderful place to live for all our neighbors.
Isn't that why we got involved in politics in the first place?
Jon Mark Hogg is a San Angelo lawyer and a Founder of The 134 PAC. The views expressed in his columns are his own and do not reflect the opinions of The 134 PAC its members, partners or volunteers.