Fear of the Other: No Fear in Love by William H. Willimon is a short but powerful book about embracing other cultures with love, instead of with suspicion and distaste. Instead of resorting to “tolerating” others, Professor/Reverend Willimon insists that we consider our Godly decree to love others as we love ourselves.
At times the book will make readers uncomfortable, as it asks us to look at ourselves and make some discoveries that we may not like. The author also insists that we love others without asking them to change themselves to fit our needs, and that sometimes seems very difficult to do.
The author is at times funny, witty, and even sarcastic. But, most importantly, the book is based on that one most important decree in the Bible:
Matthew 22:38-39 (NRSV): 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
I highly recommend this brief but compelling book, because it asks us to face our own biases and to answer them with love only. We are required to live with love in small ways, but also in very big ways. According to the FBI’s 2015 hate crime report:
- There were 5,818 single-bias incidents involving 7,121 victims. Of those victims, 59.2 percent were targeted because of a race/ethnicity/ancestry bias; 19.7 percent because of a religious bias; 17.7 percent because of a sexual orientation bias; 1.7 percent because of a gender identity bias; 1.2 percent because of a disability bias; and 0.4 percent because of a gender bias. (FBI.gov)
Surely we can do better than this. Rise above hate and suspicion. Listen and seek to understand others. Refuse to judge.
Serve all with love.
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