My definition of love for humanity is wanting good for others as I would want for myself. Love for humanity means not wanting to see harm to another person.
By Sajdah Nubee
In light of the recent events surrounding Islamophobia, I attended an Interfaith Rally Against Hate (IRAH) in Baltimore, MD organized by activist Tariq Toure of MuslimArc and Pastor Jason Chestnut of the Slate Project.
We all gathered from different religious, racial, and cultural backgrounds in front of the Washington Monument on one common ground — to promote love and dispel hate. As we all chanted, repeating after Tariq, “We need love, hate won’t win,” I looked around wondering what those words really meant to each of us. We use those powerful words of hate and love often, especially in the context of our social climate, but what does that really look like?
At times, I have heard love used to describe moments of agreement or shared perspectives and dissent misconstrued as hate. However, I challenge these notions of love and hate.
Because as I stood in the crowd and listened as a priest, preacher, rabbi, Muslim activists and several others took the stand sharing similar messages of love, but yet all having different beliefs, then I ask what makes this moment possible?
Moving Beyond Tolerance
I reflected on the words of the Baptist preacher who said that to overcome hate we must move beyond tolerance and start appreciating others. He recounted a story about how he has a verse of the Qur’an on display in his church office that states, “Verily, God does not change the condition of the people until they change that which is in themselves [13:11].”
He mentioned how he often receives strange looks from others when they spot a Qur’anic verse posted in his church office. But he said for himself, the truth is the truth and he is willing to appreciate the truth no matter where it comes from. To combat hate, he urged us to accept the truth as a way to address the contradictions in ourselves.
His words resonated with me as I unpacked his message and attempted to define what hate and love are in the context of humanity and how to combat one and achieve the other.
Differences will always be present. I know love for one another does not mean being in alignment or in agreement on all matters.
Peace with Ourselves First
My definition of love for humanity is wanting good for others as I would want for myself. Love for humanity means not wanting to see harm to another person. Love is acting in civility even when beliefs are not shared. Love is not having enmity for another because we are different. But I know in order for us to reach this place, we have to be at peace with ourselves first. We have to accept our truths.
I am reminded of a quote I heard from Oprah where she said:
“Beneath the surface of all things is the true thing. In all circumstances, look for the truth of what is really happening.”
If hate is present in ourselves, we have yet to accept the truth about what is really going on within us. If we have hate in our heart for another, this is an expression of our own internal hate we have for ourselves.
Fear of others who are seemingly different from us may also breed hate, it’s when we view others as “those people” instead of a part of humanity, making it easier to demonize them. This fear is often present when we lack knowledge and understanding of the human diversity.
We can only address that which we acknowledge and accept. We simply can’t give what we don’t have. If we don’t have love for ourselves, we can’t give it to others.
When we accept the truth about what is happening, we ease the struggle and can be at peace with who we are. We can love ourselves and give love and compassion to those around us.
Love for ourselves allows us to join together with others and find and appreciate our commonalities. And in turn, this helps us navigate our differences with wisdom, kindness, and respectfulness.
Love for ourselves, first, is what kills hate and allows us to live with one another in harmony.