When We “Choose Love” Do We Opt Out of Healing Our Nation?

When We “Choose Love” do we Opt Out of Healing Our Nation? by Jennifer Andersen OurMuddyBoots.com

It sounds beautiful, I know. I mean, who could disagree to “choose love” in any situation, right? I do. I disagree. I do not necessarily believe that the way people are throwing the phrase “choose love” around will heal our country. I worry that when we say this we are opting out of what it means to “choose love”.

For much of my life I thought I was choosing love. I pretended things were different than they are because I thought that was helpful. I took pride in being “colorblind” because I thought that was loving. I talked about justice without listening to the stories of those who are experiencing injustice.

Until I started examining my own privilege, all my love in the world would not have helped with anything. In fact, the way I “chose love” was making things worse.

Since yesterday, I’ve been seeing and hearing people say “choose love” over and over again, and I wonder what they mean. It seems this phrase is offered as a simple and straightforward answer to a deep rooted and complex injustice- a solution that is easily and universally accessible. “Choose love”. It’s a beautiful phrase. But love is not always easy, and I worry that these words are being used as a “get out of solving the problem free” card.

How can we  show someone deep affection if we do not know who they are?  How will we know how to love them if we do not know their story? “Choose love” does not mean hugging someone without knowing if they want it. It does not mean avoiding hard topics and lightening the conversation. How do we know how to love someone if we don’t ask them how they need to be loved?

I am learning that if we want to love people who are facing injustice we have to love them as they ask us to, not as we think is best. Click to Tweet

“Choose love”. As I have seen this phrase used in the last 24 hours, I fear that it is a scapegoat- that because the words are lovely people think it’s an acceptable answer- a solution. When we see the reality of mothers putting their children to bed terrified of their family being separated, we can see that “choose love” is an offensive offering. When we read that sexual assault survivors choose not to come forward because their abuser can end up President, we see that “choose love” could be a cruel trigger.

Those two words are not what is going to create change. It’s the action behind them that will.

In these times, I think love means digging in. It means challenging each other and offering our shoulder to another when the weight of it is just too much. Right now, I think  love means having the difficult conversations, hearing things we do not want to hear, and facing truths that might be overwhelming- truths for which we have no solution.

It means letting go of our ego and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable- even ashamed- of the beliefs we hold, so that we can move through them. It means doing this in the interest of overcoming biases, so that the children of those mothers go to bed at night knowing they belong. It means putting ourselves aside to think of others, so that the survivors of sexual assault know that their country is behind them when they go forward to report their abuser.

I think healing this divide takes personal action. We have to learn, deconstruct, consider, and do the hard work of personal change. In these times, choosing love means choosing change- and change is hard.

Choosing love is not simple. Loving in these time won’t be easy. It will be downright impossible if we are not loving in the way we are asked.

How am I going to “choose love”? I am choosing to listen to what is needed and commit to loving in the way I’ve been asked. That is how I choose love- especially in these times.