"God is love." 1 John 4:8. "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another." Romans 13:8. One Love, song by Bob Marley & The Wailers.
Daily we are subjected to a resounding symphony of voices each screaming in high octave clamoring for a listen. It is near impossible to decipher the longing in each of the individuals and the desperate cries to be heard and attended. What I have come to accept is that these persons should not be ignored. In my constant state of query and humility, I have put on my listening ears (thank you Judge Judy). Rather than trying to drown out the high velocity of all these "clanging cymbals," I have attempted to assess clearly or at least organize some thought around the crux of what people are seeking. After all, my voice is among the many voices.
To begin, I considered a few things that you could hear loudly in spite of everything: discrimination, injustice, oppression, racism (systemic and otherwise), misogyny, narcissism, dishonesty, hatred, fascism, lies, denial of absolute truth, totalitarianism, authoritarianism, etc. Now, remember, this is my personal commentary, but I believe I am on to something. So, with all due respect, I am going to share with you right here and now what I think is missing: LOVE. I am not the wisest person who has ever lived, but I do know the One who is. He is love, and He created us to love.
You might be thinking: What? We all know about love. What's the big deal? Therein lies the issue; we know about love, but what are we doing with it. As the song goes, "Now that we found love, what are we going to do with it?" More appropriately, ask yourself: What am I doing with love? or What have I done with love? In the song "Ex-Factor" by Lauryn Hill, some of the lyrics: "Cry for me, cry for me, You said you'd die for me, Give to me, give to me, Why won't you live for me?" If we read through the lines, the object of her affection appears to love her so much that he will die for her, but he does not seem able to live for her. I think that is because he probably is just being heroic or maybe even romantic in a manly way by saying something that is profound, but when "push comes to shove" he will probably not do it, that is die for her. Or better yet, he knows the chances are slim that he will actually have to die for her. But, it sounds good. However, living for someone shows great love and requires dedication, commitment and duration withstanding the good and the bad over an extended period of time for which he is likely not willing or able to do.
What has this got to do with what I am talking about? Be patient, it all fits. With all the protesting that we have witnessed these past few months, we might believe that we have all lived lives of absolute love and concern for one another and that all this hubbub is the result of a loved one being uncharacteristically exposed to unfair treatment. I am quite sure that I do not need to provide a history lesson to verify that this is not the case. All the adjectives noted above list circumstances that have been going on for quite a while. The question is where was the love that would have prevented such occurrences? Well, not all of it, but would have at least mitigated it.
Yes, Black lives matter; not to the exclusion of every other life, but to the inclusion. This is the "hot button" issue right now. I certainly do not mean to make light of this, but rather to shed some illumination on the root cause of why we are where we are right now and perhaps find our way forward. Let us go way back to way back when: "God created man from the dust of the ground, blew His breathe in man, and man became a living person." No where does it say that He chose different skin colors. We were created by love. Our belief system notwithstanding, we can all agree love is the common denominator; it is what we all need and want.
Why is love the glue that will hold society together and/or eliminate some of the ills? Perhaps we should take a closer look at love; strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties. To love is to feel and act lovingly. The Bible tells us that God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him. There are some lessons that we can derive from love. I have taken these "Love Lessons" directly from the writings of Dr. Charles Stanley (noted preacher and bestselling author). See the following.
"Since love is such an essential part of our lives, we need to understand what it truly is." 1. Love is more than emotion, 2. Love is not free. 3. Love looks beyond the flesh, 4. Lust has nothing to do with genuine love, 5. Love cannot be bought, 6. Love desires to give with no strings attached, 7. Love is generous and unselfish, 8. Love is more fulfilled in giving than in receiving, 9. Love is forgiving, 10. Love desires to express itself, 11. Love is a happy emotion, 12. Love enjoys seeing others happy, 13. Love is fulfilling and enables us to feel complete, 14, Love hurts when others hurt, 15. Love does not keep accounts, 16. Love may be very painful, 17. Love doesn't require anything in return, 18. Love is patient, 19. Christ's death on the cross is the perfect example of love, 20. Love is its own reward."
To summarize, God created us in love to love Him and to love one another. Love compels us to care about the well being of our neighbor (everyone is our neighbor; Luke 10) and to take action to secure this. My questions to society, myself included, are: Have we kept the mandates of love? Have we loved sacrificially and consistently so that no one is left feeling unloved or treated as though they were not loved? Before you begin to answer these questions, look around. Have you loved and behaved lovingly beginning with your family? Have you taught your children to love? I am not trying to get in your business. But, if love does not begin at home, how can it spread outside the home and abroad? Further, if we have not genuinely loved and have not taught love, what in the world are we representing when we show up to protest? I am not doubting anyone's intentions; but please make sure it's love that you are expressing.
Of late, I have been given to examining issues on a below the surface level and I cannot help but wonder how our fellowman ended up in such a loveless place as to be senselessly harmed or life is lost, and others are risking life and limb on their behalf to remedy the situation. Somewhere, somehow, we dropped the ball. If we individually and collectively follow the leanings of love to love God, ourselves and others, then hate and the ugly actions that follow could not be sustained, at least not to the level we are witnessing. Truth be told, we have to do better. Let's forgive ourselves and each other for not loving as we are capable. The past is gone, let us love, love better and love best going forward!
We have to love as though our very lives depend on it; because it does!
1. Love begins at home. Just think about when you were a child. Did you care about the nationality of the other children in your class? You may have been curious about how the other kids dressed or spoke. But, I am willing to bet that your curiosity was not hatred; unless someone at home taught you that. As I think back over my life, I just saw other kids as potential playmates. Honestly, I do not think I even noticed different skin colors. It was only when I was older that I noticed from television the ill treatment that some received because of their skin color. I am blessed that in my home my parents taught me to love. By the time I could understand that it was hate that I was seeing, the seed of love had been firmly planted. Therefore, I was able to separate out the bad actors and not denigrate an entire race of people. Teach love at home and wherever you go, show love.
2. Practice Love. It is great to "show up at the show down." But, what have you or I done to prevent the "show down?" I know some things cannot be prevented, but a lot can. When you see an injustice going down, do you get involved? I do not mean take to the streets with a banner or a placard (I am not knocking this). I mean are you moved enough to want to see a wrong righted and not just to be seen? Or do you simply do nothing? Love takes action. First of all be on the side of right; live a life of integrity. Do not participate in anything that will limit or violate the rights of others. I am not saying this is what you do, but you may know some people like this. To make real change, you must treat others how you want to be treated, write your elected officials so that laws can be effectuated to eliminate systemic bias, and vote. On a very basic level, when you see a need, seek to fill it if you can or identify and contact a person and/or an organization that can. Do something that promotes progress and shows that you care because of your commitment to the well being of others, even strangers. "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke. Be a loving and active part of the solution!
3. Get Your Message Right. Know what you believe and why you believe it. Then act on it. I recently listened to some of the lyrics of "One Love" by Bob Marley and the Wailers. The truth is I had never listened to it completely before. I was too busy rocking to the beat. Take a listen: "One love (what about one heart?), One heart (what about the love?), Let's get together and feel alright, As it was in the beginning (one love), so shall it be in the end (one heart), Alright, give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel alright, Let's get together and feel alright...." I'm pleading to mankind (one love)....Let's get together and feel alright." The message of love here is clear, and it is tied to our Creator. We have a charge from the Creator to love one another. "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love thy God will all they heart and with all they soul and with all they mind. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it. Thou shall love they neighbor as thyself." Matthew 22:37-39. Our message is that of love. Do all that love dictates (see above), and we will not only feel alright, but we will be alright.
Your motivation to serve should be motivated by love. All actions taken should be taken on the account of love. How can we go wrong if we operate out of pure love? Love seeks what is best for each and every person. Do it today, do it now; Love!
Remember: We love because we were first loved! Let's get together and begin to fix our world by demonstrating love. "Love talked about is easily ignored, but love demonstrated is irresistible." Billy Graham. There is power in love. Start with prayer!
Note: I am in the process of completing my new website and also of finalizing a new book. More information will follow. Thank you so much for all of your love and support. Wishing you God's love, peace and grace!
You can comment at: vttlane@ gmail.com