I’m finding it harder and harder each day to prescribe to a theology and philosophy of love. The natural human reaction to the murder of innocent Black men at the hands of racist police officers, who acted as judges, jury, and executioners, is hate and violence. It is deeply depressing knowing that men who I could call, brother, cousin, mentor, old-head, uncle, and friend could die because they are Black. It is deeply depressing knowing that women who I could call, sister, cousin, mentor, old-head, aunt, and friend could die because they are Black.
What is equally depressing is the fact that my wife and I could meet that same fate. We could meet that same fate not because we have decided to stand up like the brave civil rights leaders of yesterday, but because the nation I live in and hold “rights of citizenship” is a nation that defines “our” existence as a permanent threat.
I have been asking myself, “How do I talk to young Black brothers and sisters about love when they see hate enacted by police officers in the form of shootings of innocent Black people? How can I talk about love when these same police officers have the high possibility of never facing any prison time for their criminal actions? How can I talk about love when people are losing their family members to a systematic oppressive policing system?
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Yes, to love in a time of crisis is unnatural. Yes, it is unnatural to love when your family members have been robbed of the opportunity to live their God-given purpose on earth. Yes, to love when as a people we are systematically oppressed.
The natural response to systematic oppression at the hands of police is violence. The natural response to police shootings is to take up arms. The natural response to being hated is to hate. However, my mentor in college always said, “What feels good aint always good for you.”
Hate might feel good for the moment, but it is nothing but spiritual cancer that will destroy the mind and heart of we the oppressed, while ultimately converting us into the same oppressors we fight against. Violence might provide a cathartic feeling for we the oppressed, but once we come down from that destructive high, we face a dark day where we build and maintain a dehumanizing system that is a replica of the one we fought against.
When we the oppressed love, we reject the tactics and strategies of the oppressors. However, if we think and act like the oppressor, we will never be free nor will our oppressors.
Love is forgiving our oppressors because they are just like us- human beings who have the potential of being transformed. Love is staying non-violent. Love is engaging local and national dialogues to enact meaningful change in our nation. Love is speaking and acting when one’s soul is pervading fear. Love is the willingness to continue engaging in the struggle during the dark days, weeks, months, and years of social despair because we have hope of better tomorrow.
Love is the process of “we the oppressed” using our individual and collective agency to create a new America free from its oppressive contradictions.
I’m not saying this is easy to do, but what I am saying is that without love, we (oppressed and oppressors) will surely perish in the flames of anger and hatred. It is with the aforementioned sentiment I ask my friends, family, and others to do the unnatural thing—love.