It’s been awhile – a sort of Spring Break for the blog, if you will. I wasn’t actually planning to post anything until next week, but sometimes things pop into your head unexpectedly and you just have to get them out onto paper (or, you know, Internet…).
Today I was reading the news. I decided a long time ago that watching the news was too depressing for me; I think the visual nature of it gets me too emotionally involved in other peoples’ stories. I’m sure someone more skilled than I in psychology would love to analyze that for me, but it’s the truth. However, it is still important to me to stay up to date on the world, and I found that reading online works better for me. If you don’t already know this from previous posts, I’m obsessed with this newsletter for keeping up on what’s happening. I also like the BBC website, because I feel like they do a pretty decent job of staying objective (especially on what’s going on in the US).
So. Back to the point. I was reading the news this morning and the details of the university shooting in Kenya just hit me like a ton of bricks. And then it was time for my morning quiet time, and I became really really convicted of something while praying.
That something is how insanely important it is for us to love, wherever we are placed in this day and whomever we encounter. By no means am I claiming this is something I’m fantastic at. It’s just what I was thinking about. There is so much hatred in the world – it seems like there is more violence and hate groups and killing than ever before, although that’s probably just me falling prey to the media or something. Regardless, the reality is there’s a lot of horrible stuff happening. And the other reality is that humans tend to fight fire with fire. You don’t believe what I believe? I will spew hatred and negativity in your direction. You cut me off on the road? I’ll flip you off and honk so you know what a jerk you are. You killed my friend? Now I’ll kill you.
We fight killing with killing and guns with bigger guns. Sometimes, this might be warranted in order to stop senseless genocide or something. I’m not a 100% pacifist. But very rarely does anyone’s core understanding of the world change when their fury is met with equal and opposite fury.
What’s revolutionary and life-changing and shocking and rebellious and absolutely ridiculous is to love. To be that person or group that loves when the other is expecting hate, or violence? That shakes the core of a person.
The thing is, it doesn’t even need to be something big, or high profile, or excruciatingly difficult. It is on my heart to love well – to leave every person I encounter at least not feeling worse than before we spoke. In a world struggling under the weight of so much evil, how powerful it could be to consciously decide not to contribute to the negativity! It’s like the idea of every single person donating one dollar – just a dollar – to provide food or shelter to those in need. Think of all that money and what it could do. Take that concept and make it something less tangible, to be intentional with our actions toward other humans.
I know this sounds all world peace, kumbaya guitar circle, let’s all just get along. That’s not what I mean. I’m not talking about plastering a fake smile on your face and being perpetually cheerful. It’s just on my heart today that if there weren’t so many of us hurting each other, bullying and poking and picking on and comparing and tearing down and manipulating and lying to and taking advantage of and interrupting and *insert verb here* each other, there wouldn’t be so many motivations to retaliate and cause harm. It would take the wind out of peoples’ sails. Not everyone. There will always be people who are purely horrible, who only want to succeed at their own ruthless ends no matter the cost. But one thing I learned working in a rehab for teenage drug addicts is that most messed up people are created. Most people don’t start off hateful or dishonest or pissed off. Children don’t come out of the womb angry and antisocial and vengeful. Humanity is imperfect but the majority of the wounds in our souls are caused by each other, and it’s just so much easier to feel angry than to feel hurt.
If you are someone trying to follow Jesus, then you are familiar with his direction to “love your enemies”. He doesn’t say “just don’t do any major harm to your enemies” or “write mean things about your enemies” or “make sure you’re civil and only a little teeny bit passive aggressive with your enemies” or even “just act like you like your enemies”. LOVE them. Love. Holy cow.
Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
And Mother Teresa has some of my absolute favorite quotes on all of this:
“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”
So be a drop in the ocean. You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution, as they say. Pick a side.