Yesterday I watched a TED talk by a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church. The more I think on it, the more I realize that the only solution to rising hate is to meet it with compassion. This is exactly what Jesus was talking about when he said “love thy enemy” and “turn the other cheek”. It doesn’t mean ignore it, condone it or not fight against it. It means we need to redfine what it means to “fight” against something, or even to “fight” for something.
Inspired by the talk I actually went to the Westboro Baptist Church website. I was appalled by how often it mentions the “God Hates….” I listened to some of their parody songs and it send shivers down my spine. I had to leave the site, it felt wrong even being there. I can’t imagine engaging someone in an actual conversation who really believes that way. But, I think that might be necessary to stop the spread of hate and violence sweeping the world.
I have long thought that learning to “speak out” is the greatest challenge in the fight against evil, in the struggle to bring peace to the world. I’m finding that while that is necessary, and difficult, it is equally, if not more important to listen to and engage the “enemy” in meaningful conversation about why they feel as they do. People are much more likely to listen and respect you if you have listened to and respected them. What the world needs now more than ever are really good listeners.
We all need to step outside of our comfort zones and have those tough conversations with someone who thinks radically differently than we do.