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Minds that Hate: A Meditation on Racially-Charged Rioting

But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you’ll have to wait.
— John Lennon (From the lyrics of “Revolution” by the Beatles)

The recent racially-charged rioting across the United States has been described as the worst civil unrest in this country since the wave of rioting that followed in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. In the same year as the King assassination riots, John Lennon wrote the Beatles song “Revolution” as a protest against the use of violence by “people with minds that hate”. In the previous year, Lennon had penned “All You Need is Love”, which was released as a single in July and would become the anthem of the so-called “summer of love”.

It was ironic, therefore, that the “summer of love” in 1967 could be followed a year later by months of hate-filled riots on both sides of the Atlantic in which many of the perpetrators were the same hippies who had preached “peace and love” and worn flowers in their hair only a few months earlier.

What went wrong? Was there something wrong and wrong-headed about the “love” that Lennon told us we needed which metamorphosed so quickly into hatred? And what lessons can the “love” of 1967 and the “hate” of 1968 teach us about the riots in contemporary America?

If “love” is something we need, as Lennon insisted, and not something we are commanded to do or to give, our demand for “love” can turn to a hatred of those who don’t give us what we feel that we need. If love is something like food, which we need and cannot live without, we will feel that we have a right to demand that we be given it and will feel aggrieved if we don’t get it. Against this demand for love is the command to love that we have received from God. Christ doesn’t command our neighbor to love us, he commands us to love our neighbor. It’s not about my right to receive the love I need but about my duty to sacrifice myself in giving love to others. It’s not about me and my needs but about the needs of my neighbor. It’s not about my rights but about my responsibilities.

When my rights supplant my responsibilities, my rights become wrongs. And this is why those who demand Lennon’s “need love” turn all too quickly into “people with minds that hate”.

Having discussed love in these general terms, we can see how misperceptions about love, as exemplified by the songs of John Lennon, are having such a destructive impact on contemporary politics, especially with regard to the relationship between the races. The love we are commanded to give to our neighbor is color blind. It’s about the dignity of the human person as a being made in the image of God, irrespective of his physical appearance or his physical abilities or disabilities.

Read more at Catholic World Report

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