Howard Thurman on the Contagion of Hatred and the Antidote of Love
Never in the living memory of most of us has the term “pandemic” been more frequently on our tongues and in our thoughts. The SARS-CoV-2 virus has fundamentally transformed the social and natural world and brought with it increased familiarity with terms like “herd immunity,” “variant,” and “reproduction number.” It has also made us aware that there are far more viral concerns in the United States than COVID-19 because the pandemic has surfaced sociopolitical problems like medical racism (not to mention racism more generally) and the destructive and poisonous qualities of contemporary political partisanship. Would that Pfizer or Moderna develop vaccines for these.
Perhaps, our lead essayist Kipton Jensen of Morehouse College, suggests, the work of Howard Thurman might help us in naming the contagious qualities of hate and the shape of its antidote, love—which could, he hints, also help us address some of those other viral problems named above. Thurman, the 20th Century philosopher and religious scholar (and a mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr.) was not only deeply attentive to the way racism and hate were linked but to the way that a Jesus-centered love ethic might function as a response to them. His essay initiates a conversation well worth our time and consideration—which are the very things that his respondents, Shively Smith of Boston University, Wonchul Shin of Villanova University, and CTS alum Jameson Collier, give. Their probing responses, along with Jensen’s reply, do the very thing that this journal advocates: model provocative conversations on vital topics. These essays, along with curricular materials provided by CTS alum Emily Morrell, should stimulate reflection and conversation by all our readers. Our thanks to them all for their work. May our reading of and reflections on their wisdom shape our own virtuous virality during a time when such a thing is so needed.