I really don’t have time for my new assignment. A new group to hate. I can’t keep up with the workload already. Republicans hate Democrats. Democrats hate Republicans. Liberals hate conservatives. Conservatives hate liberals. Then there’s the old standbys —Black people, Asians. And the only people who don’t hate white supremacists are the white supremacists, neo-Nazis and KKK.
Now the Governor of Alabama pointed us to a new target —anti-vaxxers. Apparently they are the sole reason we are still battling Covid. Now I have another group to hate. My schedule is too full of targets already.
I confess I understand her reasoning. I’ve thought the same thing. Why should I wear a mask for people who willingly put themselves at risk and refuse vaccination? They probably don’t wear masks either. At this point, it’s their problem and their choice.
Makes perfect sense. But when I was ready to cheerfully ditch the mask, and phooey on my new enemy (non-vaxxers), two things came to mind. I have non-vaxxers in my own family and I still love them. Even more because I fear for them. I don’t want to lose them, but I can’t change their minds. The enemies have faces, beloved faces. They are not my enemy.
The other thing that came to mind was Jesus’ commands. “Love your enemy…pray for your enemy…even when they persecute you.”
People who refuse vaccinations do so sincerely. Still, each is loved by God, just as much as I am. Yes, I can pray for them, but sometimes prayer is cheap. Shoot a half-felt plea heavenward, and you prayed for your enemy. Done.
I think when Jesus used the word love, he meant it as a verb, not a noun. Never mind warm, fuzzy feelings. Ain’t gonna happen. I need a ton of humility to be able to “do” love. When I wear a mask to protect others without judging them, I am praying and loving at the same time. I am praying for the ability to do what I so do not want to do, for people who don’t appreciate it. But I see their need, whether I want to or not.
The Jews and Gentiles of Jesus’ times did not think they needed this itinerant Jewish Rabbi who told them everything they did not want to hear. But he never stopped teaching and loving. Then one day, for people who did not ask for it, did not think they needed it, he died a horrible death.
So, grudgingly (because I’m not perfect like Jesus) I can do no less for people who did not ask me to wear a mask, and don’t think they need vaccinations.
I deeply don’t want to. It feels unfair. ( Since when is life supposed to be fair?) But I will do it because my Savior told me to. I don’t have to like it. I just have to do it. Who knows? Maybe that’s the first step in turning the verb love into a noun.
So true, Sue…when the hated group has a face, one should choose to love. As nurses it is often incumbent upon us to care for..thus LOVE…our patients. This is easy to do when they have similar attitudes and goals to our own, not so easy when they rebuff our suggestions.
Working in Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation I find many patients one might consider “non-compliant”, a handle we could easily hang on the anti-vaxxers. These are the people who just underwent a life-changing, nearly fatal illness, and they arrive with the attitude “Well, you gotta die of something!” “But it doesn’t have to be heart disease!”, I want to yell from the mountain tops!
In truth, ramming into this kind of resistance with a “Listen to me, I know best!” attitude simply causes the patient to double down and throw up his defensive barriers. A gentle probe into why he or she feels that his fate cannot be altered by changing habits is always worth a try.
I guess we are both saying the same thing: throwing down the gauntlet, yelling “My way or the highway!” almost never works, unless you’re in Nazi Germany, a fascist society inspired by hate. Even there there were pockets of underground resistance who were ultimately successful, but at the cost of a world war. Let us all be more like Jesus and his disciples, who proceeded from town to town, offering love like sprinkles, allowing it to trickle down until Christianity became a giant cloud of good.
All I can say is AMEN.
Dear Father God, please help us to love when the world wants us to hate.
I am going to share this one after I meditate on it for a LONG time.