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Carol Hallman: Lead with love

Ho-hum it’s just another day in America. Another shooting, the names are changed and the shooter is this time a young man who appears to have been radicalized, and the pundits all come out in force with a script we all know by heart. One side will argue we need to have better gun control, the other side will argue that we just need more guns on the street, others will argue we need to now allow “those” people inside our borders. We will take time to mourn, we’ll bury the dead and then we’ll go back to “normal” until the next shooting. Rinse. Repeat.

I don’t know about you but I’m tired of this script. I’m tired of us just wringing our hands and saying that there’s nothing we can do. Except maybe, pray. We’ve prayed, oh how we’ve prayed and indeed prayer is a foundation but at some point we are called to get up off our knees and do.

In this shooting a particular group of people were singled out. A group that often finds itself on the wrong end of violence, ask Matthew Shepherd and the many others who have died at the hands of hate. I am reminded though by Martin Luther King Jr. that “hate cannot cast out hate, only love can do that.” And so let’s flip this script. Let’s not accept the status quo. Let’s look to love as at least one answer to what we face. As the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13 “Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first.” Always looks for the best.” (The Message) You see, love is strong. Love involves risk. Love involves hope that the future might be different. Love can and will cast out hate, if we lead with love.

And all of this is good on its face but unless we begin to actually do it, to live it out, in our families, in our communities, in our workplaces then it’s useless. In the book of James we learn that “faith without works is dead”. As Stephen Colbert said the other night on the Late Show, “love is a verb.” Love isn’t just a warm fuzzy feeling in the heart it involves action. It means looking into the eyes of every person you meet and know that they too are God’s beloved sons and daughters. It means working for the best for all people. Because to quote Dr. Seuss in The Lorax “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

The change we need has to start with us, with our unwillingness to allow this national script to continue. Reject hate. Choose to love. One person at a time choosing love over hate can make all the difference in the lives of our families, our community, and our world. So, let us reject the rhetoric of hate, instead let us lead with love.


Carol Hallman is resident minister at First UCC, 207 W. Horah St. 

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