Love is a verb. It should be active. It should be specific. It’s not weak. Actually, it’s quite powerful. And it’s brave for you to have love on your chest, because some people will look at you and say, oh, love, you know, it’s just a sentimental notion. It’s not practical. It’s not realistic. For all those people who fight war after war after war and spend money, dollar after dollar after dollar, fighting these wars that never get us peace, I’m telling you, love is way more practical, way more realistic, way more economically sensible than any of these other principles that we bring to bear. Love is the way we should do business.
I want to recall a story from the Christian Bible. I’m a Muslim, but Jesus is a highly regarded spiritual vessel and prophet in my own faith.
Jesus was teaching to the multitudes one day, and it got along around dinnertime, and he turned to his helpers and said, you know, it’s getting to be around dinnertime, so what do we have for the folks to feed them? He turned to them and said, what have we got? They said, all we’ve got, man, is a couple of fish and some barley loaves.
They looked at each other, and they looked at him and said, that’s not enough to feed all of these people. It’s not enough. They’ve got to go home. We can’t help them out. They’ve got to go. It’s time to wrap it up, brother.
And Jesus, he didn’t argue with them. He just started handing out food, and as the scripture goes, there was enough. There was enough. Now, I wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened. I mean, maybe the people noticed there wasn’t enough, so they went home to their villages and they got more food to share. Or maybe what happened is that the disciples’ perception of scarcity was misinformed and actually there was more than they understood there to be. Maybe there was abundance. Maybe there was radical abundance, though they saw scarcity.
I don’t know. But the scripture says that after the meal, there was not just enough. There was more than enough, and they had to pick up what was left over.
And you know, today, there’s enough. There’s enough for you and for me. There’s enough for the straight and the gay. There’s enough for the people who are born in America and the new immigrants. There’s enough for the blacks. There’s enough for the whites. There’s enough for the Latinos. There’s enough for the Asians. There’s enough for the Muslims, the Christians and Jews, the Buddhists, the Hindus.
There is enough, everybody! There’s enough for you. There’s enough for me. We don’t have to throw anybody under the bus. We don’t have to chase anybody out the door. We don’t have to say who doesn’t belong and who’s not included. There is enough!
There’s enough. Right? But you know what? There may not be enough if we continue to spend more than any other nation on the military. There may not be enough if we continue to spend $708 billion on war and war-making when we spend very, very little on peacemaking—$700 billion for war, $41 billion for state department and diplomacy. Our numbers are all messed up.
There may not be enough if there’s greed, if there’s hoarding. There may not be enough if we take the bountiful oceans that we’ve been blessed with and we pollute them with fossil fuels that spill into our oceans. Just recently, we had forty-nine miners killed in a coal mine because they were trying to dig out fossil fuel that pollutes our environment. We had eleven people killed and an untold amount of wildlife killed in the Gulf of Mexico. There may not be enough if we do that. We must be efficient. We must conserve. We must live in harmony with this beautiful earth we’ve been blessed with and care for it. We can’t destroy it.
You know there may not be enough if we squander and waste what we have. There may not be enough if we devote all of our resources to war-making and killing and destruction. But there is enough, brothers and sisters, if we will embrace love. If we will embrace unity. If we will recognize the inherent and essential dignity of all living things, not just human beings, but our fellow natural life in this world as well.
And there is enough if you and I will commit ourselves and have a strength of spirit, not tough, not bad, but a strength of spirit based on our belief that love is the answer and that people who don’t quite see that, people who are operating on the basis of fear who think that it’s important to throw people away and throw people out and divide us, if you will be strong and brave enough to stand up against that philosophy, not against those people, but against the philosophy, because people can change, right?
Then we will be able to really say there is enough—but it’s going to take you, and it’s going to take me.
Adapted from a speech given by Representative Keith Ellison to the UUA General Assembly on June 26, 2010.