Maintaining one's loving stance can be difficult in trying times. When anger and hate rise up, as they are on the right, it can be tempting to respond in kind.
But a movement that counters the scary ideas of the extreme right or the alt-right cannot get into the mud with them. It must respond with a transcendent appeal to what is good about America, what is aspirational about the human condition, to counter the self-obsessed whining about racial and cultural impurities.
Make no mistake, we must deal with the grievances that propelled Trump to victory head on. Some of these grievances can work themselves out through economic programs, which unfortunately Trump seems to have abandoned while stocking his cabinet with millionaires and billionaires. We must work, with love and equanimity, to explain how the baseless grievances--encapsulated by the alt-right--are the result of the unexamined lives of those individuals. We cannot respond to these complaints by policy, which many of them are immune to hearing or reading about anyway. We can only settle and integrate these complaints by appealing to love.
Being tough with KKK wannabes only gets us so far. Immediately, they will feel condescended to, talked down to and patronized, which will only further embed their anger and reactionary responses. Taking a firm but loving stance toward them can help break down their defensiveness. In the midst of disastrous wars and boneheaded policies, the Dalai Lama had the courage to say that he loved George W. Bush as a human being. He disagreed with him about the consequences of his actions. But as another inhabitant of the Earth, he loved him and had compassion for him.
The Daily Show host Trevor Noah recently sat down with the Blaze's Tomi Lahren and gave her a fair hearing. Though he remarked upon her unbridled anger, he listened. This can inspire all of us to listen, even as we point out errors in reasoning or emotional processing, to what others have to say.
We don't have to forget about injustice, hate or fear in order to try to love our enemies. We should steel ourselves for difficult conversations. We should cut off the conversation if it becomes aggressive or there is no mutual exchange. We need to be prepared to defend ourselves, to take bold stands and to organize others to counter dangerous ideas.
But if we do all of this from a place of love, our work can be transformative. Let the recounts go on, if only to assure all voters that this election was won fair and square. Raise a hue and cry over what is important to you. Do not let the election convince you it is too dangerous to talk about politics or difficult ideas. Keep stoking the fire of your mind. But do not neglect the heart. Even when things seem to be at their worst, there are always ways to stop the actual worst case scenario from occurring. We have to listen for these openings, on issues like war and climate change.
If we, like those with whom we disagree, put up a wall of defense, there can be no communication or tertium quid that can channel our disagreements toward resolution. We will be stuck with all our anger and no love can make it through.