Love is the only torch we carry

Published 10:14 am Wednesday, August 16, 2017

O, Virginia… watching the events of this weekend in Charlottesville brought me pain. To see torches again used as beacons of hatred in my lifetime, Lord, have mercy on us. When a group of white nationalists with anti-immigrant beliefs rapes the torch of Lady Liberty, the irony should not be lost.  “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” has once again been trampled on by members of the Know-Nothing party of the 1800s.

We shouldn’t be afraid of the light.  The flame of torches usually represents people coming together. In the past, I have proudly watched the torch represent efforts for peace at the Olympics, hope for new discovery in Education, and the eternal flame of Wisdom guiding us. Shame on us for making it symbol of division and fear!

Much of what transpired this weekend was based in fear and grief. The city of Chartlottesville’s decision to take down a statue ripped off the band-aid on the surgical wound our nation has been dealing with ever since the Constitution told African-Americans they were 3/5 human. Our nation’s history is complex and up for interpretation and retelling. Each generation takes up the momentous task of looking back with guilt and pride in an effort to plow a new path into the future. There are always attempts at shouting the loudest to diminish the voices of others.

As we stand up against the evil of white supremacy, we have to acknowledge the grief that is being expressed. The way history is told in this nation has mostly been from a white perspective as if whites were the only leaders and contributors. In recent years this wrong is being righted. Those who were silenced and oppressed have had the opportunity to add their story to the history of our nation. White nationalists and supremacists see this as diminishing white history. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Adding missing slices to the pie only makes the pie more full and does not require us to make other slices smaller. Yet, this is the fear I see in the eyes of those carrying torches of darkness and yelling hate. They believe they are losing their part of the story.

We can bravely shine brighter than the faces of fear. We can learn to build relationships with those carrying torches of hate so that we might show them light, love, and the Christ who welcomes all tribes and nations together. We can, as friends of mine did in Charlottesville, have peaceful conversations with those with whom we disagree.

We can listen to their concerns as well as make our concerns heard.  Through the conversations that lead to relationships, we can admit that all lives matter to Christ, we are one nation made up of many, and love shines brighter. Love is the only torch we are called to carry into the dark night of hatred and apathy. We shall overcome by letting peace on earth begin with each of us lifting up love. After all, it’s what Jesus would do. 

“Goodness is stronger than evil;
Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness;
Life is stronger than death;
Victory is ours through Him who loves us.”
– Bishop Desmond Tutu

NATHAN DECKER is the pastor of High Street United Methodist Church. Contact him at 562-3367.