Lay down your torches…

I heard there was going to be a free speech rally this weekend in my home city. Not just any free speech rally, a free speech rally with guest speakers who are rumored to be holocaust deniers, members of the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights and some of the same speakers who incited violence at the Charlottesville rally. It is concerning to say the least. And I have to ask myself, why are they coming here? Why would they come to Boston? Perhaps they think they can teach us to hate too? If so, they don’t know Boston at all. No, they don’t know Boston AT ALL.

You see, we’re a progressive group who celebrate diversity; after all diversity is what makes Boston so beautiful. We’ve always been on the side of the oppressed. We are descendants of the Sons and Daughters of Liberty. Our forefathers rocked the Boston Tea Party. We were a big part of the Underground Railroad. We fought alongside our African American brothers and sisters to help them secure their freedom in the civil war; a fight we are STILL FIGHTING after a hundred plus years. We were the first state to legalize gay marriage. We have the Holocaust Memorial, to help us to visualize the magnitude of innocent lives lost so we will never be silent in cases of injustice again. I could go on and on, there are too many of these fights against injustice for me to mention them all. My point is, we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters. We SPEAK UP in cases of injustice. We are many things, but we are NOT complacent.

lithograph by Nathaniel Currier titled The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor

So why Boston? Why rally here? We are the birthplace of liberty…maybe that is what attracted you? But liberty is not a free pass to actively oppress others. According to Oxforddictionaries.com, liberty is defined as “The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s behavior or political views.” Note the part about being free from oppressive restrictions – we take that part seriously; it’s sort of who we are. It goes for everyone. EVERYONE deserves to be free from oppressive restrictions. So when your views cause oppressive restrictions on your brothers and sisters, that is a problem. Your rights cannot trump the rights of others.

I cannot claim to know where your hate originates. Maybe it is generational. Maybe it is all you’ve known your whole life. Maybe you were wronged in life and are reacting in anger. Maybe you fear scarcity, maybe you think that oppressing others will somehow give you more. Maybe you have always felt like an outsider and a hate group is the only place you’ve ever felt like you’ve belonged? I’m sure you have your reasons; reasons I will never understand. But what I wish you understood is this: you don’t have to continue on your current path. You can turn back. Hate is not the way to go. You weren’t made to hate, you learned to hate. There is a big difference there. If you can learn to hate then you can also learn to love. You can drop your torches and pitchforks and decide that you’ve had enough, because we all know that living in a constant state of hate does not equal a happy and fulfilled life. It is not who we are supposed to be. My hope is that you will lay your torches down and spend an afternoon getting to know those that you claim to hate. Have you ever really taken the time to see them? Do you see that they are people too? It is easy to villainize people you do not know – I’m sure you feel that you are being unfairly villainized too. Something has got to give, we cannot continue on this way. We need more compassion, more respect and more civility toward one another. Less mob mentality and more introspective thinking. I have been praying for the safety of everyone since I heard of this rally – even the safety of you Mr. Torch Carrier. I pray that you will disarm and seek to get to know the very people you seek to oppress. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Nelson-Mandela-Hate-and-Love-Quotes

*First photo courtesy of Wikipedia: Lithograph by Nathaniel Currier titled “The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor”
*Second photo courtesy of InspirationBoost.com

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