We must counter hate with love Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

Perhaps one of the hardest things Jesus told us as his followers was to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44).

It’s pretty tough to tolerate people we don’t like, let alone love them. But that’s what Jesus told us to do, and he certainly practiced what he preached. He even forgave those who crucified him!

Our country — and indeed our whole world — seems to be filled with racism, hatred, and violence. We all wonder how we should respond.

Racism is wrong

First of all, I believe we should be very clear that all kinds of racism, including white supremacy and bigotry — are totally wrong. Period.

We cannot tolerate racism in any form and should call out those who espouse it.

But we should also not fight hatred with more hatred. We should be peaceful in everything we do. The only exception, of course, would be if we were physically attacked. We certainly have the right to defend ourselves.

Conversion of a white supremacist

One of the most interesting stories I’ve heard in the aftermath of the events in Charlottesville, Va., is about a former white supremacist. Arno Michaelis has been interviewed on some television news programs.

In looking into his background, I found out that he was born and raised in Wisconsin and grew up in Milwaukee.

He had a troubled childhood, growing up in an “alcoholic household,” as he describes it. From the age of 17, he became deeply involved in the white power movement.

The birth of his daughter and other factors made him question his lifestyle. “It wasn’t until I became a single parent at age 24 that I began to distance myself from the movement,” he said.

“I’d lost a number of friends to either prison or a violent death by now and it started to occur to me that if I didn’t change my ways, then street violence would take me from my daughter, too. And once I began to distance myself from the constant reinforcement of violence and hatred, suddenly it began to make much less sense to me.”

Michaelis also said other people who showed him love and forgiveness made him change his ways. He says that we shouldn’t fight hate with hate, but fight hate with love.

“Counter hate with peace and love,” he suggests. “Have a bake sale for homeless vets, for example.”

Today, Michaelis is a speaker and author of the book My Life after Hate. He works with Serve2Unite, an organization that engages young people of all backgrounds as peacemakers (see

Loving our neighbor

So Arno Michaelis has turned his life around with the help of people who showed him love and forgiveness. This should give all of us an impetus to put Jesus’ teachings into action by truly loving our neighbor.

We can do this by calling out those who tell racist jokes, volunteering our time with organizations in our community that help people of all racial backgrounds, and even showing love to those with whom we don’t agree.

The United States of America was founded upon the principles that all people are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We need to get back to our core values as Americans, band together, and counter hate with love. It’s going to take each and every one of us to get our country back on track.