Love set Ablaze

By Jennica Davis-Hockett

Phebe Hawes

Phebe Hawes
In honor of the Standing on the Side of Love 30 Days of Love 2016 campaign, Phebe Hawes speaks up about being a light of love in a time of hate.
In order to love alike, we need not think alike ~Francis David.
This quote got me thinking. I come from a suburban, mostly white, community. For the most part, we look alike. But we certainly do not think alike. And there’s not a whole lot of love either. So I turn to social media. Like many millennials, I spend most of my time online. I, however, spend a majority of that time defending my beliefs to people who don’t agree. I get the feeling many people don’t care as much as I do, especially in today’s selfie culture. Call me cynical, but I think the future of humanity is just as important as showing off how on fleek your eyebrows are. Maybe that’s most millennials. Maybe that’s just me. In the age of information, we are more connected than ever before. Yet somehow, we are also more divided- politically, socially and economically. A rift has opened, separating families, wreaking havoc on our personal belief systems, and tearing our nation and our world apart. We are surrounded by messages of hate. Islamophobia is at an all time high, and the movement for black lives matters now more than ever. My Grandmother used to use racist language all the time. When she heard people speaking in foreign languages, she’d have a conniption, saying “They're in America, why don’t the speak English?!” I notice this racism and xenophobia all the time in my daily life now; people saying we need to ban Muslims because of their religion and people who say that undocumented immigrants have no place here in the US. All of these things- Islamophobia, the push back against Black Lives Matter, blatant xenophobia- are perpetuating the divide between us. When surrounded by hate, it sometimes feels impossible to be a light of love and a conduit for change. But one spark can set off a blaze. Take for example the Muslim organization that donated 35,000 bottles of water to Flint, Michigan, after their water was finally deemed undrinkable, defying the notion that all Muslims are terrorists. Or perhaps even the simple act of Kailen Young, a 17 year old African American, who helped an elderly lady across the parking lot to her car at a Hardee’s in Knoxville, Tennessee. The fact that we think this is remarkable shows how far we have stooped in our society. Kindness has become such a rarity that when someone catches it, it goes viral and becomes a national phenomenon. Acting in accordance with one’s values should not be the stuff of controversy. We are all made of the same stuff. We can tote our differences, but we are all carbon-based life forms inhabiting this blue planet together. Even in acknowledging the important differences in the names of our God(s), the color of our skin, or the pronouns we use, we cannot hate each other. When we hate, we teach our children that we are not equal; that one person of a different race, class, or religion is better than another. The capacity to love, and the desire for justice and equanimity, is rooted deep in our souls. The Spirit of Life sings in our hearts with all the stirrings of compassion. It is a call we must heed. No matter who we are, or what we do, we must come together to ensure a brighter tomorrow, where our children are not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. (Thanks, MLK).