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Agape Love Answer to Rise in Hate Crimes

by Todd A. Smith


 

To say that America has a problem with hatred and racism is the understatement of all time.


Hate crimes and bigotry are at all-time highs.


But it does not have to be that way.


Those that would disagree that racism and hatred is a problem are just blind to reality.


However, the real question is how do we mend those divisions in society and come together despite our physical differences?


On Aug. 30, the FBI released its annual report (2020) for hate crimes in America, showing the highest number of hate crimes in 12 years.


CNN reported that over 10,000 people said they had become the victim of a hate crime, a number that has steadily risen over the last decade.


The cable news outlet also reported, “Attacks targeting Black people rose to 2,755 from 1,930, and the number targeting Asians jumped to 274 from 161, the data showed.


“The data released on Monday showed that bias against African Americans overwhelmingly comprised the largest category of reported hate crime offenses pertaining to race, with a total of 56% of those crimes motivated by anti-Black or African American bias. Asians have been targeted during the Covid-19 pandemic amid online and political rhetoric stigmatizing them, though this category of hate crime is often underreported.


“The category of hate crime incidents where a victim was targeted because of their race, ethnicity or ancestry had the highest increase between 2019 and 2020, with 4,939 incidents in 2020 compared to 3,954 the previous year.”


Many people have struggled to find the answer for the rise in hate crimes over the years.


Is racism just engrained into America’s psyche because of the original sin of slavery?


Did racism get worse when people saw the first Black President of the United States occupy the White House for eight years?


Did racism get worse because of the divisive rhetoric of former President Donald Trump?


Does the media play a role in racial hatred because of their stereotypical portrayal of people of color?


Or is racism just a sin that will sadly always be a part of the world?


Honestly, the answer to why racism and hatred across the board seem to be increasing does not even matter.


As a matter of fact, all those aforementioned reasons play a role in my humble opinion.


But the real question is how we mend those relationships and bring people together.


Because racism is a sin, and hatred lives in many people’s hearts, racism will never end, sadly.


However, things can get better.


Unfortunately, things have not gotten better because it seems many people want to fight hatred with more hatred.


When people are the victims of hatred, the first reaction often is to hate the oppressor just like they hate you.


Many people, of every race and demographic group, have often fell into the trap of hating someone because they hated them first.


In the past, I have fallen victim to that mentality too.


But to quote Martin Luther King, Jr., “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”


King would also say, “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”


Most importantly, King said, “Love is the only force capable of transitioning an enemy into a friend.”


And that is what America is truly lacking in 2021, love for its fellow man.


And when I mention love, I am not talking about simply saying the word.


I am talking about true love like putting someone’s well-being above your own.


This type of love to me means empathizing with a person’s plight or situation even if their struggles do not adversely affect you or people like you.


Many Christians refer to this type of love as agape love.


According to Christianity.com, “Agape could be defined as charity. However, we often think of charity nowadays as giving away money or things, which doesn’t encompass all of what agape is about. Agape love is unconcerned with self and concerned with the greatest good of another. Agape isn’t born just out of emotions, feelings, familiarity, or attraction, but from the will and as a choice. Agape requires faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice without expecting anything in return.” 


I have seen people, of every color, speak out against injustice when it affects their community.


Then I have seen those same people ignore the injustices that other communities endure.


That is not agape love.


When hatred impacts them, they are up in arms.


However, when hatred impacts another demographic, they make every excuse in the book as to why it is not racism, hatred or discrimination.


And based on statistics, all demographics have played a role in the uptick of hatred and hate crimes.


CNBC reported, “After anti-Black incidents, the most common hate crimes were against White people with 773 reported incidents, and Jewish people, with 676 incidents, according to the data released Monday.


“Incidents involving victims who were gay men were the fourth most commonly reported type of hate crimes.


“The data is based on incident reports submitted by more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies worldwide.


“There were 7,759 criminal incidents reported and 10,532 related offenses that were considered hate crimes last year, the FBI said.


“The majority of the hate crimes, more than 53% involved intimidation of victims, while nearly 46% were either simple or aggravated assaults.


“A total of 22 murders were reported as hate crimes.”


Those numbers represent a major problem for this country and even beyond this country.


But no amount of protests, legislation or judicial decisions will totally eradicate the problem.


Those actions are necessary because faith without works is dead.


But all the faith, legislation or marches will not bring this country together.


Only love will do that.


Agape love.

This article was published on Friday 03 September, 2021.
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