Easy Hate, Hard Love, Cornel West, and Barack Obama

By Jarrod McKenna 02-16-2010

Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us, "Hatred paralyses life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it." Yet the reality of our daily work of turning over to God our raw responses to the pain of our world is bloody hard. Rene Descartes put it succinctly (without the Australian gruffness): "It is easy to hate and difficult to love."

On the right and the left there is no shortage of people who take the 'easy' option -- no shortage of those who don't resist the current that would sweep us down the broad road that does not lead out into transformation. This week I will be part of a group of climate justice activists that will engage leaders in the coal industry around transitioning to clean jobs and renewable energy. It's so easy, in seeking to resist the 'greenwash' of the machine, to become hard to those on the other side of the issue. Or in seeking to resist dehumanising others we are in conflict with, we can lose sight of the truth.

Our call is to speak "the truth in love." More than that, our call is to "let our life speak" the truth in love (as John Woolman would insist). That is why Cornel West is so exceptional. For those who haven't seen his recent interview note to Obama, please do.

Brother West calls us not just to take a stand, but to ask critical questions about how we stand. In this clip I think he does it very well. Our witness to the Crucified lacks authenticity if we don't make a stand for justice, a stand for those forgotten by the system, a stand with those considered "the least of these." But our witness only becomes prophetic [in embodying God's new world] if we can rise above the scapegoating and name calling to speak the "truth in love." Because as Christians, with all our definitions being redefined in the nonviolent life of Christ, if it is not true, it's not loving. And if it's not loving, it's not true.

I ask for your prayers, sisters and brothers, as we engage the coal industry this week -- that our lives might humbly and uncompromisingly speak the truth in love.

portrait-jarrod-mckennaJarrod McKenna is seeking to live God's love in a world where business as usual is costing us the earth (at the expense of the poor). He is a co-founder of the Peace Tree Community serving with the marginalised in one of the poorest of areas in his city, heads up Together for Humanity in Western Australia (an inter-faith youth initiative working for the common good), and is the founder and creative director of Empowering Peacemakers (EPYC), for which he has received an Australian peace award in his work for in empowering a generation of "eco-evangelists" and "peace prophets."

Don't Miss a Story!

Get Sojourners delivered straight to your inbox.

Have Something to Say?

Add or Read Comments on
"Easy Hate, Hard Love, Cornel West, and Barack Obama "
Launch Comments
By commenting here, I agree to abide by the Sojourners Comment Community Covenant guidelines

Must Reads

Subscribe