What a beautiful day we had for Pride Day in Boise, Idaho! Clear blue skies, nice warm temperatures, no counter demonstrators. What! No counter demonstrators?! Yes, for the first time in 15 years of Pride Parades we had no counter demonstrators.
I don’t think this was because Idaho suddenly has become a warm, accepting place for LGBT’s. The Idaho Republican Party voted to “use all means possible” to prevent acceptance of gay marriage the same week as our Pride week. Maybe protesting got too boring for our counter demonstrators. Hate became old hat. Or maybe the hate burned them out.
Hate is the great destroyer. It destroys the object of hatred and the one emitting the hatred. Those who hate either dry up into empty shells or burn out. Rumi, the Sufi mystic said of the Muslim fanatics of his day, “They are all fire and no light. All husk and no kernel.”
Jesus was very wise in saying “love your enemies” instead of the old way of hating your enemies. (Matthew 5: 43,44). He knew that hatred does nothing to bring forth God’s compassion in the world. It also destroys compassion in the one doing the hating. The book, Fo-Sho-Hing-Tsan-King: A Life of Buddha, states, “Conquer your foe by force, you increase his enmity; conquer by love, and you will reap no after-sorrow.”
It is good for activists for any cause, however right and loving, to meditate frequently and often on these sayings. It is too darn easy to see an enemy as an obstacle or worse. Unfortunately this is the common teaching of our culture. It is part of our cultural conditioning. It will take work and grace to overcome this.
The good news is, the opportunities to practice love of one’s enemies abound for lesbians, transsexuals, bisexuals and gays. This is good news because tolerance, compassion can only be learned from one’s enemies.
The Dalai Lama says, “One of the most important practices is that of tolerance, patience. Tolerance can be learned only from an enemy; it cannot be learned from your guru. … However, when you meet your enemy who is really going to hurt you, then, at that moment you can learn tolerance. Shantideva makes a beautiful argument; he says that one’s enemy is actually a good spiritual guide because in dependence upon an enemy one can cultivate patience, and in dependence upon patience one accumulates great power of merit.”
There is a fundamental reality that underlies these teachings. We are all one. I am not separate from you, dear reader. You are not separate from me. We are not separate from Jerry Farwell, George W. Bush, the Pope or the next person we see.
If we hate someone else, we hate ourselves. There is no greater hell than self-hatred. I know this from personal experience.
The good news is because we all are one, we are one with God, who is Love. To overcome the hell of hatred, we only need to surrender to Love. In opening to this Love, who loves us more than we can think or imagine, we can grow in love for everyone.
Again, I speak from experience. As I have experienced God’s love for me, I have grown in my ability to love others. I have not perfected this by any means. This surrender is a process, not a deed to be done once and for all.
The thing is to enter the process, to walk the path. Why not enter this process? It is the path to Joy.
Registered nurse, Episcopal priest and lifelong Idahoan Rev. Deborah Graham helped found Integrity Idaho and served in the Diocese of Idaho as a supply priest, hospice chaplain and missioner to the Hispanic community. She earned a master of divinity degree from Church Divinity School of the Pacific.