“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
~ Mother Theresa
I am convinced that the reason why we continue to live as we have lived– cynical, despondent and dazed– is because there has been no change in the way that we love. Our love is not deep enough or wide enough. It is superficial and not far- reaching. Our love is not able to go the distance, lacking endurance. It cannot be tested or tried because the strength of our love would fail. Our love is simply not strong enough.
We may love loudly but we do not love for long as it is a spiritual discipline that we are not fully ready to commit to. Our love is time sensitive and dependent upon our fluctuating emotions. We love just enough, giving the minimal amount. We say that we have poured out our hearts but have we poured out our love? Who have we given large amounts of love to?
We have not loved as we ought, as we should, as we needed to because we love only if we are “in the mood” or if we “feel like it.” But, love is not a feeling but a manner of existing for “God is love” (First John 4.8). Therefore, if our being is in God as declared in Acts 17.28, then our being should exist in love– always. But, we don’t and worse still, we don’t want to and so we don’t try to.
We lie to everyone else. But, let’s be honest with ourselves at least. We were not born filled with hatred; it is not something that the doctor checked to ensure that we had before we could be released from the hospital. One’s ability to hate is not a sign of health or maturity. Instead, we are taught this response. We are instructed to hate this person or that cultural group.
We are not innately or naturally inclined to hate. These are lessons that we learn from our first teachers whose parents taught them and so on and so forth. Hatred begins at home. We create the lesson plans. We ask them to repeat the stereotypes after us. We teach them to prejudge. We tell them who they can play with on the playground. We tell them the “kinds” of friends that they can bring home. We tell them who they can love and like and live around.
We want so much to hold other persons accountable for their actions but what about our own? How have we brought peace to the world? What have we done to change the direction of the next generation? How have we challenged the beliefs that have held us back and kept our arms folded, preventing us from reaching out to others? How have we set up the classroom of our child’s life?
Hatred is not only fed by the disallusion that she/ he/ their cultural group is better or best, more in number and consequently, believing themselves to be the most educated, the most beautiful, the most likely to succeed and therefore, having the most to offer but, it is also nourished by our ignorance. We don’t know much about ourselves or others. Instead, we have defined our wisdom by what we can see on the outside. We have placed great value in the flesh, this creation made of the dust to which it will return. Perhaps, this is why our love is not deep or wide or strong or long- lasting. It is because we love according to the flesh. We love according to race and we hate because of race.
It is a conditional love, a love dependent upon a predetermined social appearance that is considered right. However, this is not a new reality. This is the way that we love ourselves and this is the way that we love our children. If they appear a certain way and thereby bring us praise, we love them. Because we love how they make us appear to others. But, this is not love.
It is my prayer that we would study love but not just any love– God’s love– so that we might be able to love our families and be at peace with ourselves, our neighbor and our God. Amen.