The Tree of Life is Always Rooted in Love
I have been writing this weekly column for a little more than ten years, and if you have been reading it that long you know that I have written many columns about how I believe, with all of my heart, that the power of love is stronger than the power of fear and hate. There are, of course, times when it seems like that is not the case, such as when another terrible act of hate causes unspeakable horror in our personal lives, our communities, or our nation. I suppose the reason I have written so many columns about this topic is that I know how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the number of hateful incidents happening in our world today. Unfortunately, such is the case once again, as demonstrated by the ugly hatred that led to the murdering of eleven worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh this past week.
Prejudice and hatred always come from a place of fear and weakness, though on the surface acts of prejudice and hate may wear the disguise of strength. Real strength is always grounded in love and comes from a place of recognizing that we all truly need each other to thrive and that there are no "others" to demonize or project our fears upon.
So in response to the latest expression of hatred that occurred in Pittsburgh this week, how do we show the world that love is stronger than hate? How do we show up and respond? In all the little choices we make each day.
One way love showed up this week was in countless interfaith gatherings that occurred all across the country. At these gatherings, people came together to affirm their common humanity, and their love and support for the Jewish community as it laments yet another horrific act of antisemitism.
I was honored to attend one such gathering at Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid, a synagogue near where I live in Milwaukee, WI. I was joined by 1,800 other people from every religious, racial, and political background. We held hands, sang songs, read psalms, and listened to words of lament and hope from several rabbis and other clergy. That night, in that gathering, as well as in so many other gatherings like it across the country, love was indeed stronger than fear and hate.
There is a great deal of fear in our world right now. How will each of us respond? Will we isolate ourselves and allow fear to guide our actions, or will we redouble our efforts to sow seeds of love and healing in all of our encounters with others?
Fear and hate are contagious, but so are love and healing. We get to choose, in the big and small decisions we each make every day, what we will both take in and what we will spread out. I know that I need to not give into the despair of, "What is happening in our world right now?" and remember that the world isn't something that just happens around us, but is something we actively participate in co-creating together.
I know that I, and maybe you, too, need to always stay focused on remembering that in every aspect of our lives, our friendships, our families, our communities, and our nation, that the tree of life is always rooted in love, and that we need to stay committed to watering that tree in every way that we can.
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