So I am sitting here today thinking about the pain that is being experienced by faculty, staff and students on our campus as a result of the murder of one of our female students. I cannot even begin to imagine what her parents and family members are feeling at this time. I have thought about the staff member from the school who had to call and inform them. I have thought about the young man who is responsible for her murder. I have thought about his family and what they must be feeling at this point. Then I think about the violence that is so prevalent in our world and I find myself asking the same question I have been asking for decades now. Where is the love?
It is times like this when I find myself thinking about the lyrics to this song by Black Eyed Pea and Justin Timberlake. And like the lyrics to the song, I find myself saying God how can I help your children. Give me some guidance cause people got me, got me questionin' Where is the love? I look and listen and at times I am deafened by the hatred that I feel, hear and see around me. Then I think about how we live in this country where we have so many freedoms. We all talk and walk and act as if we are so powerful. But if we are that powerful, then why can’t we stop the hate? And I find myself praying God how do I make the lines of hate fade away – the color lines, the sex lines, the class lines, the sexuality lines – how do I make all those lines fade away. How do I speak the language of love in a warzone of hate?
It seems like you can’t go anywhere today without being reminded of the violence in our world. Teaching the courses that I do at Brockport keeps me enlightened. I am constantly reminded that every 3 minutes a woman is beaten, that every 5 minutes a woman is raped, and every 10 minutes a child is molested. Several years ago the same night women were marching in the Take Back the Night march, a young woman was raped on our campus.
We cannot seem to escape the violence. We have children killing children, drive by shootings, gang wars, muggings, bombings. We have people killing people and people treating people as if they were not people, stringing them up like scarecrows on a fence after having beaten them to near death or tying them to the bumper of a truck and dragging them for miles. And when people are not outright killing them, they are selling them drugs that will lead them down a path of destruction. We have people treating people like property, paying people for the use of their bodies as if they were a commodity to be bought and sold on the open market.
These are not acts of love, they are acts of terrorism. Yes, they are acts of terrorism and they are happening in our own country. When a child is afraid to go to school or a woman is afraid to walk down the street or a parent is afraid to let their child play out of fear of what might happen to them, we are living in a war zone. A war zone where the language of love is no longer spoken and where the dominant language is not love thy brother and sister, but hate them – despise them, be jealous of them and feel free to kill them.
And it seems to come from everywhere. The violence, it seems to come from everywhere. And I don’t know about you but sometimes I feel like a lone voice in the wilderness crying out where is the love? Don’t you see what you are doing to God’s creation? How can you do this to each other? How can you hate each other? How can you destroy each other? God, where is the love? How do I begin to be a peacemaker in a world filled with hate and injustice?
And I get angry. I am angry that those who hate seem to have more power than those who love. I am angry that those who use violence seem to be more convincing than those who use love. I am angry that the world seems to care less and less about preserving and rebuilding the Creator’s dominion here on earth. Sometimes it seems that the only way to retake control is to use violence, to engage in warfare so that we can reclaim peace and love and justice in our world.
So what must I do with these feelings. I wage a war, not with weapons of mass destruction, but with my heart, mind, and soul. I wage war with faith, love, and compassion. It is in times like this that I remember that part of my calling is to liberate those who have become prisoners of war in a system which they do not even realize they are enslaved. I am still waging war. I am waging war by forgiving my adversaries. I am waging war by being loving and kind with all of God’s creations. I am waging war by laying down the old weapons of jealousy, power and control. I am waging war by speaking my truth in love, even when the violent words and actions of others are attacking me. I am waging war by working for peace. I am waging war by healing the wounds of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism. I am waging war by honoring and affirming difference. I am waging war by working with those who have been marginalized by society. I am waging war by having patience and working for global transformation. I am waging war by having all that I say and do be about building moments of peace, love and justice in this world.
I am waging war so that when I ask myself where is the love, I can say it is right here. I am being the love that is needed in this world.