We begin with uncertainty. We see someone we do not recognize. We hear sounds that we cannot understand. This other approaches us, and at that moment, we have a choice. We can be curious, or we can be afraid.
If we choose fear, we begin to hate. We start to hate what we see. We hate the way the other exemplifies what we are not. We hate those unknown sounds because most probably those sounds are threats. We still have a choice at this point: we can confront this fear, or we can attack.
When we attack those we hate, we gather an army around us to help. We reduce the other to less than human. We call them names. We encourage others to join in the humiliation of our new enemy. We must break them down before we destroy the threat. We have no choice.
Of course, we do have a choice. Faith gives us choices and chances. We can step out tentatively toward the unknown, opening ourselves to attack or embrace.
Over the last few weeks, we have witnessed the fruit of fear and hate in Uganda. A proposed law would kill those who are afflicted with AIDS, imprison those who are gay, and punish those who would try to protect their gay friends.
We have seen this process before. We have witnessed hate throughout human history. We have participated in hate. We know that it will end with senseless, brutal death and suffering.
What if Uganda took another approach? What if they stepped out on faith instead? We know that hate will lead to violence and death. Where might faith lead them? Where might faith lead us? What if instead of fear, they/we approached these seemingly unknown people with curiosity, awe-filled at the complexity of God’s creation?
When you are curious, you ask questions and you listen. When you listen, you discover similarities, and your empathy. When you listen, you might even discover that you care about someone new.
What if instead of attacking what we do not understand because we are afraid; we actually acknowledge and confront our fears? What if we looked at those fears and realized that they are illusions? Perhaps our fears would go away.
Faith gives us the option of “what if?” Faith allows us to experience something new and beautiful. When we exercise our faith, love grows and community is built. I pray that Uganda will choose faith and explore the “what if” of love. I pray that each one of us will choose faith and explore the “what if” of love.