An Open Letter to Hate, Suffering, and Fear: You have NOT won.

vigil_151118_07 | Flickr User UCI UC Irvine | Flickr Creative Commons
vigil_151118_07 | Flickr User UCI UC Irvine | Flickr Creative Commons

To Hate, Fear, and Suffering in our world:

Perhaps it is simply a matter of being more aware of it, but it feels in the last two months that you have been all around me. So I write you—to Hate, to Fear, to Suffering—so that you will know… That I do not hate.  That I am working to move beyond fear.  That I am accompanying and will continue to accompany those who suffer. No matter how hard you try and how hard you make it to understand life and people, you have not won.

Your recent work in Paris has been horrifying. So many people have passed away, and hundreds were injured. It is incomprehensible. And yet. In the midst of the suffering, in the middle of the hate, in a place besieged by fear… something more is present, something you cannot defeat: hope, compassion, and love. So while you have struck at our very core, you have not won. The man from whom you took everything, refused to give you the one thing you wanted: hate. Instead he remembered the loved one you took from him, and he looks at her memory with such love that you cannot win. The people who you have scared, made a point to return courageously to the cafés. And why? Because they refuse to have their lives controlled by Hate, Fear, and Suffering. Each sip of coffee, each pastry consumed, each conversation was a beautiful act of fighting back. It was a way of yelling: “You have not won! We have not lost hope!”

Candlelight Vigil | Flickr User Light Brigading | Flickr Creative Commons

Candlelight Vigil | Flickr User Light Brigading | Flickr Creative Commons

Paris is not the only example. No. Hate, Fear, and Suffering have been hard at work across the world. What is so insidious is that you three have hidden yourself behind the name of religion. Bombings in Baghdad and Beirut, killings in Syria, even hostage situations in Mali all in the name of religion… But we do not accept your lie. No. Hate, Fear, and Suffering are NOT tied so closely to our faiths; you can attempt to hide behind ignorance, but too many brave people are onto you. Beautiful men and women who are Muslim have gone on a public campaign to show how their faith is free from you. Holding signs which boldly claim “not in my name” or “we stand with Paris”, they show me how to fight against your work. Talk show hosts, celebrities, pastors, and even people on the street standing up to you in order to say to the world: “Hate, Fear, and Suffering… you have not won! —You cannot hide behind a religion!”

Hate, Fear, and Suffering, you have brought the battle to our shores. You have been working quietly in the background using tools of racism, violence, and prejudice. But even with all your work to stay hidden and accepted, you cannot remain in the shadows—you have not won. At the University of Missouri, students organized and united to combat your work. Powerful statements of action from individual students, from faculty, and even from sports teams show a rise in our awareness. We are fighting back against you. Through conversation, protest, questioning, and compassion… we boldly state: You have not won! —We do not accept your work!

So to you—Hate, Fear, and Suffering—I write to let you know that hope still exists. Compassion still remains. Love still endures. I write to you to let you know that I do not Hate—instead, I pray for those who cannot see love just yet. I write to you to let you know that I do not Fear—rather, I am inspired by the brave men and women who refuse to hide and surrender to you. I write to you to let you know that I have not forgotten those Suffering—I accompany them in conversation, awareness, and prayer.

I write to you to let you know that no matter how hard you try, and no matter how hard you make it to understand life and people, you have not won.

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