But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. – Jesus in Luke 6:27-28
Here at Occupy DC, we have been extremely fortunate in our good relations with the several police services that operate in our city. Our interactions with police have been generally cordial, and we have not felt threatened in any way. The police violence that our friends in Oakland – and many other cities – are suffering stands in stark contrast to our experience here in DC.
This came to the surface on Wednesday night, when folks at Occupy DC rallied in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Oakland. Folks at the rally were fired up, furious about what had gone down in California. When the police arrived, some of our young men had to be physically impeded to keep them from picking fights with the officers. Lots of emotion; lots of testosterone.
We occupiers are really good at the “truth” part. Most of us have highly developed analyses of the problems facing our country. We do a good job at pointing out what is wrong. But love is harder. Love requires us to lay down our own selfish interests and act for the sake of others. It means seeing the reality of God’s love for others, even those who want to do us harm. Real love goes far beyond strategic nonviolence.
To be loving, however, does not require us to be naïve. We understand that the police – and, more importantly, the powers that give them orders – are not seeking our best interests. We understand that the powers are trembling, and that they are willing to do us harm in order to maintain their privilege. We have no illusions about the ultimate allegiance of the police.
But we must love them. It has been pointed out that police are also part of the 99%. Far more important than this, police officers are also children of God. Just like us, they are in desperate need of God’s mercy and love. I pray that rather than falling into the trap of fear and hate, we will imitate Jesus who prayed for those who crucified him: “Forgive them, Father, for they do not know what they are doing.”