Monday, October 15, 2018

What Does Love Mean in the Time of Chaos?

It's pretty clear to me that we are living in a time of chaos. Things seem to me to be in upheaval. Is there an irreparable divide? Are we destined to always have us and them, the other that causes us fear? 

I listened to a podcast from The Liturgists again. It's called Enemies (here). The hosts and the guests asked all sorts of interesting questions about what it means to turn the other cheek, how you can love an enemy. (Truthfully, it can sometimes be hard enough to love my neighbors, let alone an enemy.) Towards the end of the podcast, one of the hosts, Science Mike (Mike McHargue) talks about whether we need an enemy to keep going, to prop up our own belief systems. 

What a difference if we were to love in the radical way that Jesus and other prophets talk about. Thomas Moore, in his book Writing in the Sand, says that what Jesus was really calling for is a radical shift in perception. What if we were all to say that we are going to wish the best for everyone, we are going to respect that everyone has a point of view even if we disagree with it? Doing these things don't necessarily mean that we let things slide, that we don't challenge things that we feel are morally wrong. But, I think it means that we stop calling others names, we stop thinking of them as other than human. I certainly need some practice in this. I do find myself thinking of some people on the national stage in pejorative terms. I try to stop myself and say that I shouldn't do that. 

I think it's helpful to acknowledge when you agree with something someone you generally disagree with says something that you do agree with. I have one thing I agree with Mitch McConnell (Senate Majority Leader for those of you overseas). He wants to make growing hemp legal again in the US. I've thought for a number of years that this should be done. 

I disagree with Donald Trump on everything I understand that he says he believes in. But I try not to hate him. It doesn't matter to him if I do, but it doesn't do me any good if I do. In fact, hating someone most likely hurts me. I can oppose his policies without hating him. I can also imagine the pain he might be in from what little I know about his childhood. Doesn't make me like him. Just makes me wish he were healed, that he could have compassion and justice in his heart rather that what I perceive to be there. And, I can't even say that what I believe lives there is correct. Only what I perceive -- hurt, pain, anger, and underneath all that, fear.

So, I think that what love means in a time of chaos is finding it in me to wish everyone the best, refusing to make others my enemy, and to try to be someone who brings light into the world. Love isn't necessarily like. It isn't necessarily passion. But, on the other hand love can be feelings of compassion, justice and mercy. One of the few passages for the Bible that I can somewhat recall is Micah 6:8 (for those of us who believe in the Divine): 

He has told you, O man, what is good—
    and what does the Lord require of you,
but to do justice and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

(Modern English version of the Bible)

What does love in the time of chaos mean to you? I'd really like to know.



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The first photograph is by Andrik Langfield-Petrides. The second by Jon Tyson. The third by Steve Halama. I found all of them on unsplash.com. The fourth image is from my book, Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be (here).

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