The movement created what I like to call a nonviolent revolution. It was love at its best. It’s one of the highest forms of love. That you beat me, you arrest me, you take me to jail, you almost kill me, but in spite of that, I’m gonna still love you. (Congressman John Lewis)
Once upon a time there was a college aged girl who moved to a country filled with people who at worst openly despised her homeland and at best silently thought they were better than the citizens of the country she came from. They weren’t wrong to think these things after all, the country she came from beat, arrested, jailed, and almost killed people like Congressman John Lewis who fought for equal rights after centuries of injustice and inequality, and has a long list of prioritizing the pursuit of money over loving thy neighbor.
When I was 19 I moved to Canada from the U.S. to go to school. Little did I know just how much this move would impact my worldview and change my perspective. I quickly and regularly encountered strong anti-American sentiments from classmates, friends, and co-workers. It’s strange to feel in one moment a rise of patriotism as well as shame at many of the blanket accusations thrown around about “all Americans” because many of the statements people made were true. Maybe they didn’t apply to all Americans, but they applied to a good number of Americans and that realization was painful. There are good people standing up for justice in the U.S., but it’s not often the loudest voice heard around the world.
Once people learned I was American they prefaced their opinions with, “of course I’m not talking about you.” Here’s what I quickly realized, the message my country communicated to every other nation in the world was not one of love or hope, but one of superiority and brashness. It’s been almost a decade since I left Canada and it hurts my heart to think of what nations around the world are hearing from the U.S. these days.
On this Monday, I’m taking a moment to be still and pray. I pray that the love that Congressman John Lewis displays and communicates becomes the love we all have for one another as human beings regardless of nationality, race, socioeconomic status, and political beliefs. That this love transforms us in the smallest of interactions to the biggest of movements. And I pray these verses from Psalms 12:5, “But the Lord says, ‘Now I will arise! I will defend the poor, those who were plundered, the oppressed, and needy who groan for help. I will arise to rescue and protect them!'” May we all communicate love so loudly that it begins to change our society and stop the suffering of our fellow human beings. May the next generation learn how to love more deeply and powerfully than any other before from brave and courageous parents who stand up for the poor, the orphaned, and the refugee. Amen.
If you’re at all interested in hearing more from Congressman Lewis, you can listen to his interview with Krista Tippett here.