Today is an interesting day.
I spent a few hours meeting with faith leaders — Jewish/Christian/Muslim — as we discussed the rise of Hate Crimes in NYC. Rabbi Joe Potasnik and Dr. Paul DeVries convened the group and many leaders of city run organizations were in attendance. We talked about the need to break out of our silos and mingle with people of different experience and orientation to break down the walls of prejudice and confront the rising rhetoric levels. Hate is all around us. We need to be aware of it and do all that is within our power to make sure that we don’t add to the toxicity that starts with ignorant or wrongfully intended words. Name calling has become normalized. Let’s not participate in that norm.
I am especially grateful today. 17 years ago today, I was driving down the west side highway to take my spot in the crude oil pit on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Every week day, I would make the u turn near liberty street to pull into the parking lot underneath Tall Ships on the southwest corner of the World Trade Center complex. As I was making the u-turn, I heard a voice in my spirit telling me to go back home and help your wife pack for a trip. I had just completed a one hour commute. Still, I listened to that voice in my head, even though it made no sense. Later in the day, I saw from televisions in the airport that a bomb had gone off in the parking lot — a few spots from the spot I would have parked in — at the time I would have been retrieving my car. So, you see I have so much to be grateful for today.
I am singing in my spirit, quietly to my self. “There but for you go I.” If it weren’t for that “still small voice” I wouldn’t be here. I would have never known the life I have been blessed to live. I would never have pastored a church …. and more. To whom much is given, much is required. He who has been forgiven much, loves much.
In all of our back and forth … watch your words. Refuse to label people. (No name calling.). This is really important. When you label people — you demean them and minimize them. You categorize them and in fact put them into a category that you are allowed to either dislike, neglect and eventually ignore or worse.
This is the problem with group identities.
Hate may start as speech. But it never ends there. Let me say that again. Hate may start as speech. It never ends there.
No one is exempt. We all have the capacity to hate. Control your thoughts. Control your words. Control your actions. Look around you. Purpose to spend time with people who think and speak differently. Engage them … and remember. Love your neighbor as yourself. And then go to a higher level. Love your neighbor as Jesus has loved you.
I can’t wait to see the responses here … Let’s see how long it takes for people to start bashing this leader or that. Beloved brethren, I beseech you to refrain from using your words to describe. Use your words to create and to heal. Call things as they should be and refuse to call things as they are.
Much love …