The opposite of love is not hate, it is fear. Hate, like anger, is a red flag that there is something deeper underneath. Something, that when planted and nurtured grows into hate. Hate is the flower, but fear is the seed. Fear is the root that spreads under the ground of human hearts. Like a weed, it sprouts up any place it is given room to grow and some places it is not.
Racism is born of fear. Fear of people who are different. Fear of people we do not understand. Fear of what our mind tells us is a threat to our way of life. Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Racism is the belief that the color of the skin is the dangerous thing we must fear.
When we are afraid, there is a fight, flight, or freeze response. When I see something that scares me, a snake, a spider or a needle, I do one of those three things. I do not stop to educate myself. In the moment, I do not make a choice based on knowledge but on a sense of self-protection. My choice is not a rational logical one, it is a fear-based decision.
Courage would require me to look beyond my fear, not respond to it. It is hard, when I am afraid, to have courage. It is much easier to counter with cowardice. Excessive fear and self-concern. Feelings in which I fail to help anyone else but myself, and I overlook the needs of others. It is a failure of character in the face of a challenge.
Since cowardice is considered failure, a coward must hide it. No one must know, so they cover it with vibrato. Hatred is the mask of fear. It is a surface level disguise for what is really happening deep within the heart. It uses a condition of intense dislike or ill will to combat fear. With racism, cowardice uses words which put down, insult, or characterize a person based on skin color. Actions which demean, disgrace, and degrade are part of the strategy. Ultimately, humiliation is the goal, so that the coward can feel better about themselves.
In our current pandemic climate, fear is on the prowl. It is in the midst of a feeding frenzy, and spreading like a weed. It is at the root of division, disunity, and hate in all its forms. It is not new, in fact it is ancient, reborn in modern forms of hatred with the same results as always. Death. Literal death in the case of George Floyd. Fear masked as hate, literally choking the life out of this man on the street. The words, “I can’t breathe” ringing out over and over. A prophetic statement for our time.
Repentance is the remedy. Courage is the cure. Humility is strength. Love is the victor. How well we do these things determines if fear will go deeper or be pulled out by the roots. We each have our own choice to make. Choose you this day who you will serve. Fear or love. Hate or hope. Cowardice or courage. Sit out or stand up. Be silent or speak. Death or life.