Standing on the Side of Love is a public advocacy campaign sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Association that seeks to harness the power of love to stop oppression. But separate from the campaign, what does the phrase “Standing on the Side of Love” mean and how do we bring it to action? How do we stand on the side of love when anger fueled by fear, hatred, and violence threatens us and our neighbors? How do we stand on the side of love when bigotry, ignorance, and anti-truth strategists begin to take control of the White House?
Standing on the side of love is not a passive stance. We must communicate and act with an abiding love for justice, but communicate and act we must. So perhaps standing is a misnomer – we need to be moving. We can’t just stand still, love, and hope for the best. The dichotomies of our country have risen to perhaps unprecedented levels, at least in my lifetime. Right now it is difficult to understand the venom and hatred that is becoming commonplace, even legitimized, in the United States.
When the potential leader of the United States is captured on tape saying he can touch a woman inappropriately because of his fame – and still gets elected to the highest office, how in the name of anything decent do you respond with love? Love is not synonymous with condoning a behavior, belief, or action. I think to myself, “That in no way deserves a loving response.” But I’m wrong. I’ve got the wrong idea about love. Love is not this innocent, pure, idealistic way of being. It is a thoughtful, strong, well-thought position. Do I love Donald Trump? No, I cannot say I love him. I have no patience for the man. Is that Standing on the Side of Love?
Jesus says to love your enemies. Martin Luther King offered thought-provoking sermons on the topic. I’m sad that there are human beings who think and act like Donald Trump. If pressed, I can feel badly for them. People like that must experience tremendous emotional and spiritual pain. Or at least if I am to feel anything remotely similar to love for them, I have to believe that. To stand on the side of love in response to hate, prejudice, sexual assault, and other insidious behavior, if you can’t love the person, you can respond in a loving way. Not love toward the perpetrator or his/her behavior, but love toward the moral rightness. I can’t conjure a loving feeling toward hateful, arrogant people. I can respond with love by saying that what he has said, the choices he is making, the unbridled tweets he shares, are harmful to all people.
Standing on the side of love is equal to standing on the side of truth. For me it is a journey, a moral ideal, something to strive for, and a spiritual and emotional principle to pray for. Do I always stand on the side of love? No, I do not. But I do try, and often succeed.
Standing on the side of love is not always easy, but the times call for it. Perhaps the times have always called for it.
Kelly Knox is the chair of the church’s Social Justice Committee. The purpose of this blog is to raise topics for dialogue and discussion. The views and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church or its board of managers.