The past week, each morning as I drove to the Fellowship from my home, I viewed a magnificent set of oak trees whose leaves have turned from summer’s verdant green to autumn’s blazing reds, rich golds, and fiery oranges. Their glory reminds me of how much beauty and good there is in the world. This truth warms my heart and feeds my soul. Life, and all the many variations of life that exist, truly constitute an awesome miracle.
But also this past week in October, I was reminded of how much fear and hate exist in the world. First, we learned of at least 14 pipe bombs mailed to leaders of our country. The individual who did this held no regard for the postal service workers who might have been harmed while handling these bombs. And for those targets the bombs were sent to, this individual held no regard for their right to believe differently than he. The bomber’s fear, anger, and hate worked, in his twisted mind, to make his actions and their death acceptable, but we know hate and threats of violence are never acceptable.
Second, we witnessed the horrific shooting at a Pittsburgh community’s Jewish synagogue where eleven precious souls died while celebrating the birth and naming of a child. Our nation’s president suggested that if an armed guard had been at the door the only life lost would have been the hate-filled gunman’s. While an armed guard might have stopped him, is this how we want to live – with armed guards at every door? Do we want to return to the ‘rule by gun’ as practiced in the old wild west?
I hope hate has not brought us to the point where armed guards are needed at our houses of worship. I don’t want people to fear for their lives when they come to the Fellowship. This is not the America I want to live in.
The world we live in does consist of diverse people, religions, and politics. As our world gets smaller due to communication and transportation advances, we must live in harmony with one another. It’s too late to go back to some ideal homogeneous culture, which I doubt ever existed anywhere, at anytime. We must learn how to respect one another and not let difference divide us or make us suspicious of those differences. Why is that so hard?
We Unitarian Universalists side with love. We side with the members of Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC, and we side with the members of the Tree of Life Jewish congregations in Pittsburgh, PA. We side with all who are targeted by hate. We will do all in our power to conquer hate with abiding love. We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. We will not let our disgust or anger at perpetrators of violence take away our compassion for those suffering or our passion for embracing diversity.
Love is stronger than hate. It will always be so.
Rev. Alison Eskildsen