Letter to my friend

America is a great nation — that’s why everyone is knocking at our door. Diversity is one of the glories of our country, which was founded on ideals of liberty and justice, and has always been welcoming and inclusive. Americans rub elbows with folks from various cultures, ethnicities, sexual orientations. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights …”

But now that foundation is fraying. Some don’t like the way American culture has shifted toward a liberal agenda, redefined marriage and legalized abortion. They’re threatened by the expansion of civil rights, want to bring back traditional Christian values and believe change in government will restore righteousness to America. They forget that God is the one who makes us righteous when we invite him into our lives.

On Jan. 20, 2017, a billionaire entertainer endorsed by xenophobic white supremacist forces will become our president. We have put a man in power who has slurred war heroes, immigrant and minority groups, mocked the disabled, admitted to sexual assault, boasted about abusing women. He has shady business dealings, went to court for fraud and refuses to disclose his financials. He has spent his whole life hurting people to put himself ahead. The con man has conned the nation.

Hate has been unleashed; our elected leader refuses to distance himself from hate groups. Human rights, democracy and basic civility are eroding quickly. Those who are different — people of color, women, the disabled, the elderly, immigrants, sexual minorities, those who are transgender, those with alternative religious or spiritual beliefs — have already been targeted, bullied and worse.

My family lived through the Third Reich. Will we allow the forces of authoritarianism, nativism, misogyny and racism to triumph, as they did in Germany? Has the Fourth Reich come to America?

When swastikas appear across America, when my friends see signs stating my kind are hated, when gas chamber threats are made, I don’t feel safe in my own country. Do you understand my fear?

The Nazi god is not my god! The one who killed 6 million Jews, 3 million Poles and countless others is not the god I serve.

My god is a god of love and justice, not of hate. He commands us to love one another as He loved us — not hate one another.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.”

I am praying for our country. How can we choose hate over love? Rejection over acceptance? Fear over hope? Division over inclusion? How can kind, loving folk support and vote for someone who spouts hate? Someone who reviles every person who is not a white, heterosexual male? How can you claim to follow a God of love and support hate? My own life has been damaged by rejection and hate because my brain is wired differently. Jesus delivered me from the power of rejection, accepted me just as I was and gave me hope. The community of believers enveloped me with God’s love and acceptance. God brought peace and love into my life. I believe God can change our nation by transforming lives one heart at a time.

Now I see the same bullying, hateful rhetoric that damaged my life spewed by our elected leader, who sows discord and incites violence. My faith empowers me to raise my voice because “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing.” We can’t let hate and bigotry take over our country. We must sow seeds of love and kindness and stand against the hate that has entered our land. We need to hold on to goodness and hope, to love our neighbors as ourselves no matter how different they are from us. We need to remember the good things our nation represents.

With God’s help I will continue to stand against injustice — not accept it. I will continue to speak up for social justice and equality for all. I will stand firm against misogyny, racism, hatred.

Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and writes a weekly cooking column for the Enterprise.