The last week or so has been filled with tests of my commitment to recognize the humanity of all people, especially those I vehemently disagree with and find to hold offensive, deplorable beliefs. A good friend wrote a fabulous piece on some of the information gained from the leaked videos of LDS officials’ behind-closed-doors meetings that is filled with a grace and generosity that is powerful. The “A Thoughtful Faith” podcast had a fascinating interview with Lindsay Hansen Park looking at how the progressive Mormon community mimics many of the aspects of Mormonism that they find problematic. Tyler Glenn released a new music video with troubling imagery that seems to be promoting sexual assault. Drumpf, in an absolutely reprehensible/deplorable/ lewd recording brags about past sexual assaults and his right to sexually assault more women. The Deseret News, for the first time in 80 years, weighed in on a presidential race, calling for him to resign. Other politicians and figures echoed the call. Some shamed these politicians for waiting until now to take a stand against Drumpf (or reverse a previous endorsement of him). And so on and so on. As I wrote on Facebook, we seem to be in a nightmarish cluster-cuss of a hellscape.
All of that is happening and I keep thinking that we need to love one another. We need some grace. We need some divine assistance. We need to see each other as humans, but more than that—as Gods and Goddesses in embryo, celestial beings waiting to unfold their powers.
There’s a long, but I think worthwhile (obviously, or I probably wouldn’t be using it, but hey, sometimes you gotta emphasize it) quote from C.S. Lewis along these lines from a sermon he gave entitled “The Weight of Glory”:
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”
We are either helping people towards the light or pushing them into darkness. Man. That’s a heavy responsibility and something that I definitely can do better with. I need to remember that everyone has a story, that everyone will probably make more sense if I get to know them, if I seek to understand them. I’m not saying that this understanding justifies reprehensible behavior or that we need to condone awful, terrible things. But I think we can get a far better insight into why people make such choices if we strive to understand them. And that such understanding is the soil needed to grow fruits of change and healing.
Some words from Jesus, as recorded in John 13:34-35:
“34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Differing somewhat strikingly from the earlier commandment Christ gave, as found in Matthew 22:36-39:
“36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
Not only are we to love our neighbor as ourselves, but we are to love each other as Christ loves us. Love motivates lasting change, not hate. Love gives grace. Love forgives. Love wins. Love casts out fear.
I need to show more love to those I disagree with. I need to remember that they are human too. That they have struggles and histories. That their cruelty is motivated by pain or insecurity or something. That we made them. Something in our interactions brought them to where they are. We can bring them to the light. We need others to bring us toward the light. I need to be brought to the light. I need to be loved. I need to be understood. I need to be treated as a human.
As Christ taught in a parable in Matthew 25:40:
“40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
If we fail to treat those around us as human, if we fail to love them, if we fail to show them the grace we need, are we still human? If I fail to show them grace, if I fail to love them, if I fail to treat them as human, am I human?
If I fail to love you, if I fail to show you the grace that I so desperately need you to show me, if I fail to treat you as a human, can I really expect you to treat me as one?