After the arrest of Floridian Cesar Sayoc in connection with the chilling bomb packages sent to a number of visible opponents of President Trump (mostly Democrats were targeted), the words of U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley at the recent Al Smith dinner are even more needed for our country to move beyond our current contentious environment.
“In our toxic political life, I’ve heard some people in both parties describe their opponents as enemies or evil,” Haley said. “In America, our political opponents are not evil. In South Sudan, where rape is routinely used as a weapon of war, that is evil. In Syria, where the dictator uses chemical weapons to murder innocent children, that is evil. In North Korea, where American student Otto Warmbier was tortured to death, that was evil. In the last two years, I’ve seen true evil. We have some serious political differences here at home. But our opponents are not evil, they’re just our opponents. We are blessed with a political system that allows us to resolve our differences peacefully. In the end, we must all recognize that we are all Americans and we are stronger and healthier when we are united.”
There are understandable grievances among both progressives and conservatives in today’s political climate, and the only way we move beyond them is to learn to love our fellow Americans with an unconditional, boundless love. That type of love would never inflict violence on another, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., told us:
“We will match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. And do to us what you will, and we will still love you … Bomb our homes and threaten our children and as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators and violence into our communities at the midnight hours and drag us out on some wayside road and beat us and leave us half-dead and we will still love you. But be assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. And one day we will win our freedom but we will not only win freedom for ourselves. We will so appeal to your heart and your conscience, that we will win you in the process. And our victory will be a double victory. This is the meaning of the nonviolent creed. This is the meaning of the nonviolent ethic.”
Photo by US Mission Geneva