There’s an election next week. But I find it hard to concentrate on who’s running for what with the tragedy in Pittsburgh where eleven people were gunned down in an anti-Semitic attack on a synagogue. With masses of desperate people crowding our southern border, hoping for a better life. With the New York Times’s photos of starving Yemeni children.
There’s trouble in this world of ours, where hate seeks its own way again and again and again. And, although it is each of our duties to vote, I’m not sure anyone in politics can stop the relentless tide of self-centered animosity that has washed over our land. Me against you. You against me. Enforcing our own ways with weapons and words aimed at nothing less than complete annihilation of our enemies.
But who is my enemy?
The person who worships under a different symbol than I do? Or on a different day of the week? Those who have less than I do and are so desperate for more that they leave their own homes and families to pursue a distant freedom? And what about those whose lives have never crossed mine, and yet I bear witness to their far-off misery in the pages of my newspaper because another person who I have not met considers them their enemy?
Scripture says we have one enemy. Only one. One who seeks to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). One who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (I Peter 5:8). The great dragon, the ancient serpent, the deceiver of the world (Revelation 12:9). I’ve met some pretty strange people (and some not very nice ones), but I’ve never met a single person who can fill all those roles.
My enemy is not a person but a power which seeks to use people as its pawns. The only defense against such an enemy is to be filled and controlled and consumed by love. Not the kind of love that comes from me, where one day I feel generous and large hearted and the next I don’t. But a love so much bigger than me that it continuously radiates a steady beam of warmth and light and goodness into the universe no matter what.
Such love is always patient and kind. Never jealous, boastful, proud or rude. Above all, it never seeks its own way. (I Corinthians 13:4-5). This kind of Love loves even those it disagrees with. The source for such love is not myself. It is divine. Its attributes and standards never change although everything else is bound to. And the more I experience it, the more loving I become.
So, by all means, get out and cast your ballot next Tuesday for whoever you believe to be the best candidate. But don’t look to a political agenda or persona to hold back this bitter tide of hate. Look first in your own heart. Then look to a power that is greater than yourself.
“Good morning,” said my husband, walking downstairs this morning.
“Yes, it is,” I said. “I am a person of great faith.”
Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the award-winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. The Christmas Cradle, the first book in her Lantern Hill Farm picture-book series, is available now.