I woke up feeling hungover this morning, although I have never tasted alcohol. I went back to bed and tried to sleep, wishing I could wake up from this deeply unsettling dream. When I finally got up, admitting there was nothing I could do to change today’s reality, I chose to pray. And my prayer was mostly weeping. I wept for the people who suffer and who will suffer. I wept for the hearts of Americans that seem to have become so hard and stiff. I prayed for strength and courage to stand by those who will need me, who will need a safe place in the coming months and years. I prayed for my children, that I might be able to teach them what true love and leadership is. And I prayed for Jesus to give me hope.
And do you what came of that prayer? A portion of peace. And a whole lot of resolve. Many of us fear what yesterday’s election results will mean for our nation and the world. There is nothing any one of us can do to change what has happened. But there is something we can do to change what these next four years will look like. We can stand by love. We can stand by liberty, freedom, justice and equality for every person. And not back down.
As I grieved for our nation this morning, the words of the great Martin Luther King Jr. echoed in my mind: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” *
And so, Mr. Trump, I declare that I will stand by love like I never have before. I will stand by respect, tolerance and human dignity in every way that I can. And I am not the only one. Millions of us will stand by our consciences no matter what kind of oppression, hate or persecution you may emanate from the White House. Your words will have no power over our hearts, because our hearts will be filled with love.
To both friends and to strangers who may fear for themselves in the next four years, I say that you are not alone. I will stand with you. To every racial minority, to each immigrant, to Muslims, to LBGTQ citizens, and to the underprivileged in our nation—I will be a safe place for you. To women and children, to those with mental and physical handicaps, to veterans, refugees and anyone who has known sacrifice, suffering and oppression—I will be a safe place for you. To any person who feels a threat to their safety or well-being with this man as our president, I will stand for you. Because I love you and I see you. You are my brothers and sisters.
We may feel discouraged today, perhaps even depressed. And it is ok for us to grieve. But we should not exhaust all our energy in despair. Instead, let’s unite our energy in love. In the faith in and vision of a greater humanity than what we are seeing upheld up in our nation. Let’s hold up our lights and make a change in this country by the way that we live. If we stand together we can make a difference. Will you join me?
*Quote from Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches
*Photo courtesy of Trent Yarnell, Unsplash.com