It’s been a rough couple of weeks, folks. Between personal stuff, work stuff, and world stuff, November has not been kind. It’s at times like these that’s it’s the most difficult to choose joy. To see the light in all the darkness, especially when the darkness seems to invade your every pore.
Last week my grandma was in the hospital for a couple of days. While she was there, my grandpa moved into the guest room because he refused to sleep in their bed without her. They’ve been married 63 years. I can’t even imagine the depth of that love. The cynic in me wonders if that sort of love even exists anymore, if we’re capable of loving another person like that in a world where we swipe right to show our interest in someone. I’ve had a couple of conversations to that effect throughout the week, and the consensus is that yes, we have the ability, but few people tap into it anymore. In a society where we are so “me-focused” and used to instant gratification, love seems to turn into more of something to check off the list than something to really dedicate time and energy to. Of course, there are exceptions. I’m not trying to belittle anyone’s love story. On the contrary, I’m really interested in what makes those exceptions, what people do to keep that sort of love alive.
It occurred to me that to really see what made those special connections work, it’s necessary to look outside of romantic relationships. Our world is connected by relationships. It’s all we are, really, a great big bundle of relationships. We are our own person, yes, but we are also defined by our relationships. Our relationships with friends, family, strangers, the world at large. How we react to people sets the tone for how we live our lives, and our actions and reactions can have massive impact on the lives of others. That’s what happens when you live in community.
After what’s happened in the world over the past couple of weeks, in Paris, in Beirut, in Baghdad, in places all over the world that most people know nothing about, there should be no doubt as to the ripple effect actions and reactions have on the world community. Hop on any comment thread and you’ll find prayers for peace, yes, but mostly you find hate, blame, calls for violence and retaliation. And to what end?
Some words I’ve been meditating on over the past few days as I contemplate my own responses:
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst…If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.” – Matthew 5:43-47
“Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love…Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
I don’t know what my point is in all of this. I just know that I’m weary of the hatred and mudslinging. Life is hard enough without adding to it. What if we tried to take the burdens of our brothers and sisters, instead of playing the blame game? What if we tried to be the light and love on people, even when they’re not our favorites? I don’t know what the answers to all the world’s problems are. I don’t even know what the answers are to all the problems in my own life, though those seem very small in comparison. All I do know is that I’m choosing to find the light, to see the good, even in its most minuscule amounts.
One of my favorite movies, especially around this time of year, is Love, Actually. The opening scene is gold, and really sums up this entire post.
“…but the greatest of these is LOVE.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13
Blessings and love to you all, my friends.