No, I do not understand the obscene and relentless cruelty of humanity. No analysis of any kind explains its depths of violence, lack of compassion, or the riled up wildness of thrashing fury. And frankly words like love sometimes seem far too soft to meet it. Love, so naïve, so blind and ridiculous.
And yet, when I think about how easy it would be to let go of love in favor of hatred, fear and hopelessness, I realize that to hold to it in the face of its opposite takes a kind of muscularity and grace. You see it in the faces of people like Martin Luther King, Mohandas Ghandi, Malala Yousafzai. Their eyes shine with a fierce love; their faces are made serene by it, confident, powerful. They walk with us, on the ground, wings dusty and damaged, like ours. Their love blows through the dark alleys of ignorance, withstanding the insults of the cynical and the cowering. It insists. And it continues even after they have been shot, stabbed, burned, subject to all manner of degradation and attempts at erasure.
The spirit of this kind of love doesn’t belong to them – to King, Ghandi, Malala – it is caught in the breeze by them, already in the air, already moving through, already the force of all existence. This love, it sticks to them, to their imperfect humanity, and it is carried forward perfectly, willfully, willingly.
I am aware that I have a vast capacity for hatred. Hatred seeded by a sense of powerlessness; a defense against overwhelm. The litany of events and consequences I don’t understand is very long; there are so many spaces in which hatred can arise. But in these moments, I think of the flash of fierce loving wisdom in Martin Luther King’s eyes, and with his hand at my back, his hand and others, I announce to myself: It’s okay, I am not scared, I’m with them.