As I walked with my wife this morning into the local public access television station, WTVP, I was full of emotion. She was about to do something that neither of us could have ever imagined, and that both of us think is so incredibly important and humbling. There is something remarkable about watching the person whom you love more than anyone in the world speak hope into the world on a large scale. When my wife finished her interview with CNN this morning, I was overcome with emotions that I have never really experienced before.
Sheer pride in someone else’s accomplishments.
Belief that, no matter what, she did exactly what she was supposed to do, and said exactly what she was supposed to say today.
Hope, that our fundamental belief that loving neighbors, strangers, and enemies alike is the only hope for the world as well as the only thing no one has ever really tried.
For absolutely no good reason, this opportunity fell in front of her (and us). There is absolutely nothing remarkable about her putting on hijab for 40 days. There is absolutely nothing remarkable about what she said. It is nothing new, and her words were not revolutionary. But, for some reason, her story has captured the attention of the internet world, and now the global media world. And the words she spoke today on CNN are timelessly relevant and incredibly important today.
We sat together in that chair today, even though I was on the sideline. She spoke, and I prayed.
These words of hope are the antidote to the negativity, hatred, and hopelessness our world feels today. ISIS is terrible. Terrorism continues. No one knows what to do. Neither do we. But what we do know is that, if the Church chooses the path of love towards neighbors, strangers, and enemies in our communities, a little bit of light will seep in, and transformation can occur.
Like I have said before, hate breeds hate. We cannot afford to continue to let hatred and fear rule the day. Hatred and fear can’t change anything in a positive way. Only love can do that. This love is not a love that ignores evil, or believes nothing. It’s not a love that says, “Hey, you’re no different than I am”, but instead it says, “Hey, you’re really different from me, and I want to understand what you believe and hope in”. When we do this, we can begin to love how God has uniquely shaped every single person in this world – their beliefs, their opinions, their hopes and dreams. Sometimes we will be changed in the process of this sort of radical love. That’s because love is transformative of human relationships, communities, and cultures.
I think CNN wanted to interview my wife because she isn’t talking about how evil and terrible everyone else is. She isn’t talking about how we need to preserve our way of life, and be afraid of any differences. She isn’t talking about tolerance, but something more than tolerance – appreciation of difference and engagement in relationships with people who are different from her. We have plenty to fear, but if fear takes over, no one wins.
I only hope that this simple phrase – Love of neighbors, strangers, and enemies is the only hope for the world – was heard, and nothing else. I hope that these words ring long and loud in the ears of people who have let fear and hatred reign in their hearts in minds towards Muslims. I’ve never been more proud of my wife, and her willingness to, despite all of the potential ramifications of putting herself out there, seize the moment and speak hope. She’s unremarkably remarkable.