Love and Politics

Sometimes it feels like love and politics are like oil and water—they cannot and should not be mixed. But the fact of the matter is that politics are part of life. Especially at this moment in history. And it’s impossible to love if you’re absent altogether.

Love requires that we show up in the hard places. Even when things get dicey. Even when they get political. And when there is conflict of any kind (whether it’s political or physical), love demands that we show up with a completely different agenda than the parties on either side.

Love during conflict means showing up to wage peace where others wage war.

I fully admit this type of love is easier said than done. When you show up in a conflict zone, everyone wants to know what side you’re on. It’s the nature of war—you pick a side and fight to the death.

It’s counterintuitive to show up to a war preaching a “third way” that rejects “sides” in favor of the belief that our well-being is wrapped up in each other’s. But this is what we believe love looks like.

That’s why we show up in actual conflict zones in Iraq and Syria, driving trucks full of aid instead of tanks full of ammunition. And that’s why we want to show up in America’s hyper-polarized political discourse with love and empathy, instead of vitriol and judgment.

Whether the conflict is “over here” or “over there”—and regardless of what form it takes—we will show up.

To wage peace while others wage war.

To embrace rather than conquer.

To listen rather than shout.

We go to the hard places where love feels absent or violence seems to have won, to love the people who feel hung out to dry, vulnerable, abandoned, and afraid.

Sometimes that’s a war-torn town in Iraq. Sometimes it’s an operating room with children who are innocent victims of the horrors of war.

And sometimes, it’s suburban America, where we feel wrung out by the hostile tone of our politics and how it seeps into every aspect of our lives.

This is what we mean when we say “the frontlines are where we live.” Wherever you are is where the conflict is raging, and we all need to show up armed with love instead of hate.

Because while others plan battles, love plans peacemaking missions.

We will continue to show up in these conflicts, determined to offer a third way—and we hope you’ll go with us as we seek to wage peace where others wage war.

There are a few things we’re trying to keep in mind as we move forward into these murky, uncharted waters.

First, we work really hard to create a welcome space in the midst of conflict, where we invite all voices to the table and actively listen. However, we’re human. We do not always get it right. We have our blind spots, too. In these cases, we need you to help us love better. Embrace better. And set a more inclusive table.

Second, sometimes even that third way of love and inclusiveness can still feel partisan to us when it’s not our side. Please remember that just because someone isn’t on your “side” doesn’t mean they’re on the opposite side. It means that we reject the notion of sides altogether. We believe that we all belong to each other.

Third, and most importantly, we should not mistake this third way as neutrality. Love and neutrality are very different.

Neutrality is meaningless in the face of violence, but love has the power to unmake it. We will always have a bias for the vulnerable. We will not take a partisan side, but we will always stand up for the vulnerable. Sometimes that may look as if we are taking one political side or the other, but it’s almost never that simple.

We don’t lean left or right—we lean toward those who are powerless and most at risk, regardless of party lines.

In Iraq, this means that, while we love everyone (yes, including ISIS), we are going to have a bias for the people who are being oppressed and violated. Love does not require taking a neutral stance toward groups like ISIS. Love demands that we go out of our way to love the vulnerable first, in whatever way is most meaningful to them. And then, out of love, we push back the forces of evil, knowing that people cannot be well while they do violence to others.

Our stance has to be the same in the U.S., though in practice it may look very different. We will love the most vulnerable first. And that should never be an act of partisan politics.

It’s just what love looks like when it takes the form of policy.

We need you to join us in this third way. To join us at the frontlines to wage peace while others wage war—whether that war is being fought with guns and tanks or words and votes.

Hate and disagreement are loud right now. So our love must be louder.

We aren’t always 100% sure what this looks like. After all, there aren’t many people even attempting it. But we are determined to figure it out, even if we falter a few times along the way. The alternative—taking sides against each other—simply isn’t a viable option.

Will you help us figure this out? What do you think love looks like in our messy, tense, and hyper-partisan society?

If you’ve found a way to do this in your own life, please leave us a comment below and tell us about it.