21-Days of Gratitude: Day 15

So much has happened since my last post. My spirit feels refreshed, rejuvenated, strengthened, and uplifted.

Many of us voted on November 8th. I’m always grateful for the opportunity to vote especially given the extreme opposition my ancestors encountered, fought through, and won the right to. Voting is something my household takes seriously. We discuss, disect, deliberate, and debate the issues. It still amazes me that a large majority of people do not vote. For whatever reasons; continued voter suppression, lack of trust in the government, access, and other explanations.

Speaking of ancestors, Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever premiered in theaters on November 11th (Salute to all the Veterans). We bought out the theater. It was a magnificent event, a whole entire experience from start to finish. We rode the emotional waves all the way through and now we stand tall above the clouds where they left us.

As we continue on this 21-day challenge, the one theme I can’t seem to shake is LOVE. At a time when hate is regurgitated rapidly, receives higher ratings than a great television show, and approval from those who claim to follow Christ or some other deity, I am propelled to explore its meaning for me.

During the end of summer, the beginning of fall, I went to my business’s neighborhood store to grab a few items as I usually do once or twice a week while in the area. This day, however, stood a Black man outside the premises with a sign that read EMPATHY; understanding and entering into another’s feelings. This is slightly different from SYMPATHY; an inclination to support or be loyal to or agree with an opinion. He wasn’t asking for money or a handout (I tried giving him money). He was asking for EMPATHY and the clerks were asking him to leave. How many times (recently) have we seen people say something that those who feel threatened by what is said react in a way that proves the point of or something universally bigger than what the person originally said?

While both words call for understanding, only one asks us to enter into another’s feelings. I wonder how differently we might operate in words, deeds, and life, if we entered the feelings of parents whose children have been murdered due to gun violence, women who have been told what they can and can’t do with their bodies, being hungry, poor, without housing in a plentiful place, people facing the death penalty for protesting for their human rights, the double standard of mental illness depending on what you look like, standing up, not backing down to people who want to oppress you or a group of people who have had every system built against them, hated for who they are and represent, and their ancestral roots attacked on a daily basis for hundreds of years. They never get a break from others trying to oppress them. NEVER. Even when they do rise above, and go beyond, they are always trying to be brought back down by deep seeded hate and unnecessary fear. This is by no means an exhaustive list but you get the point.

As I continue to sit in this thought of EMPATHY, I both feel and know how exhausting hate is. As I relish the knowledge, and wisdom of LOVE, I am reminded of its power to expose and overcome hateful rhetoric, ideologies, and actions.

I Corinthians 13: 1-8 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

I John 4: 7-8 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

I John 4: 20-21 “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In a world of hate, I recognize both EMPATHY and LOVE as a choice and an act of resistance. I choose freedom by any means necessary. I choose joy unspeakable and full of glory that the world did not give to me and cannot take away although it has tried. I choose LOVE.

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