Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a pastor, civil rights leader and martyr, said this in 1958, “A fifth point concerning nonviolent resistance is that it avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him.”
Jagmeet Singh, a candidate for the New Democratic Party in Canada, was hosting a meet and greet when he was faced with hatred. Unwarranted but not unwelcomed by Mr. Singh, the heckler was shouted down by participants with the words “courage and love.” She had misidentified Mr. Singh as a Muslim; he is not. And even when corrected by an attendee and offered the opportunity to speak to a Muslim, she declined. She wanted to speak to him because in her words, he was a supporter of Sharia laws and “in bed with the Muslim brotherhood.” For the record, he is a practicing Sikh.
He reminded the audience, “What do we believe in? We believe in love and courage.” He went on to say to the woman, “We welcome you. We love you. We support you. … We believe in your rights.” To which, she could offer no full- throated response and eventually left the gathering.
Rather than fight hate with hate, Mr. Singh showed the courage it takes to love in the face of a finger- pointing, misplaced attack and blame. Misidentified and pre- judged, Mr. Singh would not stoop to her level but raised the conversation above the rhetoric and to ensure that her shouting did not drown out his mission, he repeated it to the crowd: “love and courage.” He declined the invitation to hate. He responded in a post yesterday as to why.
He refused to hate her. And that takes heart and guts. Because the easiest members to control are the hands, feet and mouth. We are taught to keep our hands to our selves, to quiet our feet, that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. But, who regulates the heart and soul of a person? The heart and the will call for a higher sense of personal identity and responsibility for which no human law can govern. Not only did Mr. Singh rise to the occasion, he rose up to a true expression of himself.
Here’s to love and courage!