It’s general election day here in the United Kingdom. Many of us will have been through this cycle many times and yet this campaign has seemed in some way different; it’s been more ideological and has at times appeared to get even more heated than normal.
Glance at either the press or social media and you’ll find plenty of aggression and vitriol, usually written from the perspective of a perceived moral high ground. All too often when we don’t understand the choices of others, we dismiss their opinion and sometimes even attack their character.
As James, the brother of Jesus, writes:
‘Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be’.
– James 3:10 (NIV)
So what is it that drives so many people, motivated by a sincere desire to see a better society, to rage against those who believe that society may be achieved in a different way? When passions run high it seems so difficult for us to understand that another person may want things to be better and yet that desire could bring them to different political conclusions.
When a terror attack happens, so many of us from all sides of the political spectrum share a quote from a 1957 sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, quoted in his book, Strength to Love.
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
During an election campaign it can be all to easy to abandon such bold ideals and believe that anyone who doesn’t agree with us is an acceptable target for name calling, shaming, and personal attacks; in order to show our belief in a better world we are often willing to jettison the very values that would make that place a reality.
Tomorrow, regardless of who wins, we’ll go to work with people who didn’t all vote in the same way, spend time with friends who have differing opinions, maybe even go home to families that have different thoughts.
It’s a great thing to be passionate about changing things for the better, but if we allow our hope for a better world to make us behave with hate then it’s our own cause we’ve undermined and ourselves that we have diminished.
If we allow our hope for a better world to make us behave with hate then it’s our own cause we’ve undermined and ourselves that we have diminished.
Whether the party we voted for wins or loses tomorrow, whether we’re mourning the hope we felt or celebrating that we believe we may have achieved a better future, we must remember that speaking with hateful language only produces more pain and hate — and that’s the very thing that we should be fighting against.
The only way to stand for a better world is to behave in the way people in that better world would behave, to be a representative of that reality within our present one; if we surrender our belief in love just to vent our anger, then it shows just how much more work must take place in ourselves to live up to our ideals.
Let’s not let our passion for a better country display itself in ways that stop us from becoming a better citizen of it; be the kind of person who’d flourish in the world you want to see.
If we stand for a more loving society then we must let that love be our defining characteristic, even towards those with whom we disagree.