In college, I read Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness for a class. It ended up being a true favorite, though I knew nothing about it when I started reading. In fact, my one of my college roommates Jen and I would say the book title with a claw-like hand raised to the air: “the left hand of daaaaarkness!” In actuality, nothing whatsoever in the book relates to an actual left hand. A slight bummer for me at the time.
I wrote down many quotes from the book while I was reading it, and at least one is still etched on my heart.
“How does one hate a country, or love one? Tibe talks about it; I lack the trick of it. I know people, I know towns, farms, hills and rivers and rocks, I know how the sun at sunset in autumn falls on the side of a certain plowland in the hills; but what is the sense of giving a boundary to all that, of giving it a name and ceasing to love where the name ceases to apply? What is love of one’s country; is it hate of one’s uncountry? Then it’s not a good thing. Is it simply self-love? That’s a good thing, but one musn’t make a virtue of it, or a profession. … Insofar as I love life, I love the hills of the Domain of Estre, but that sort of love does not have a boundary-line of hate. And beyond that, I am ignorant, I hope.”
No, I don’t mean to bash patriotism or pride in one’s country or origins, but I love the message of these words, particularly for those of us who follow Jesus. Mostly, that our love for people or cultures should not have a “boundary-line of hate.”
I am convicted even as I wrestle with my own prejudices and “preferences” for certain people or cultures over others. I am praying for God to reveal to me where I might have these boundary-lines of hate and to replace them with sincere and transforming love.