It took me until midnight on Sunday to get my thoughts together enough to write about the shooting at the Pulse club in Orlando. I decided I needed to make a list. Here’s what I wrote:
PEOPLE I AM NOT INTERESTED IN HATING
1. Gay, lesbian, or any other persons because of their sexuality or lack thereof.
3. Members of the NRA and other gun advocates.
4. Black Americans.
6. Narcissistic, bombastic, presidential candidates.
7. Corporate polluters.
8. People that unfairly made life hard for me.
9. The guys that assaulted me on the street.
10. The New York Yankees
11. Fox News hosts. Not even Hannity.
Wow. This list could go on forever.
Why are so many people being presented to me as potential hate list members? God help us all.
I could go back through this list and take out all the jokes. Except that it really isn’t much of a joke. I find it very easy to get caught up in the hate that is around us. Just like we can walk through a city and breathe in the bus exhaust and not think about it, we can breathe in the hate. We can start just taking sips of the haters cup, but it’s pretty addictive stuff.
The thing we have to do to avoid breathing in the sort of hate we see around us is to keep it in mind and work against it. Change our ways. Let’s stop using words that fuel it. I actually have given up saying I hate the Yankees. I like to see them lose, but I don’t even want to give hating that much of an opening into my life.
I will try to be respectful of others. I will call them by the names or titles they choose, and try not to divide the world into them and us. There is no them. There’s only us.
I will give up the idea of violence as a solution to any problem, even the problem of violence. I am not going to drink from that cup or breathe that air.
Rev. Stephen Carnahan is the pastor of the High Street Congregational Church in Auburn, Maine. He has pastored other UCC congregations in PA, NY, and Portland, Maine.