Exploring the Divine: Love is the Answer
A few Sundays ago, our priest, Father Ajin, spoke quite eloquently about Jesus’ words to “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. … and to love your neighbour as yourself.” ( The whole reading was from Mark 12: 28-34) He stopped on the second part and drew our attention to the words: “love your neighbours as yourself.”. That got my attention immediately.
I guess I had never really thought about the “as yourself” part before. I only ever heard the first section. He pointed out how important it is to learn to love ourselves before we can truly love our neighbour. And then the same is true if we are to truly love God.
It stopped me dead in my tracks.
I had a wave of realizations go through my mind. It suddenly made sense why there was such hatred and insanity in the world. People just don’t love themselves. And why is that? Because so many have never felt love before.
We live in a crazy age. Many cultures of the world say we are in an age of destruction and chaos. Some even teach that it is also the age of “unwanted children.” If ever truer words were spoken I don’t know where you’d find them. For so many individuals, no one has ever taught them it is okay to love themselves, because many, many children have been raised to feel completely unloved. They have grown up with neglect, abuse and violence, so why would they love themselves?
When so many parents are having to work to afford to live, and the norm of our society is to plunk our elders into care-homes instead of having them live with us as in days of old, to help provide an element of stability in our households, many of our children and young people are a neglected mess. The laws of our land don’t seem to help. Taxes are extremely high making it almost impossible for one parent to stay home—if there even is a second parent in the home to cover the work arena. Very late-term abortions are legal in many countries, including Canada, which alone corroborates the idea of “unwanted children.” Foster care is rampant and in many cases places youngsters in foster homes where it’s more about the money coming in for each child rather than the desire to love them. Constant online bullying is trickling down from the highest voices in some lands, and racism and various phobias are being loudly played out on the world’s stage. The world is full of the frightened, bullied, tormented and unloved—literally millions of them.
I remember the old days, when mothers or other family members stayed at home, and there was a sense of stability in the house. Of course, not all homes were peaceful and not all parents were loving, but it seems to me that the balance was more tilted in that direction than it is now in many communities. I remember when if parents died, children went to the nearest relative (if there was one) to be raised, instead of the state insisting the children go to strangers. Of course, if you made a will stating where your kids were to go if something happened to you, then hopefully things would be okay. But, so many have just been dropped into foster care without much thought as to whether that was the best thing for the child’s heart and emotional well-being.
As I said before, when the parents and grand-parents became too elderly to live on their own, the family used to care for them at home. Now everyone is chucked into nursing homes to received generic care in a generic institution, and with the new euthanasia laws, their lifespan could become more and more fragile, depending on the person with power-of-attorney. When did we become a nation of killers? When did it become perfectly acceptable to off the very young and the elderly because we can’t put ourselves out to care for them?
Look at this refugee crisis in the U.S. where the children were taken away from the adults and put into foster care—children of all ages. And of course it has come out that the proper paperwork was not done in so many cases, and now they have many many children whom they literally don’t have any documentation for, and thus, no idea of where to send them and who to send them to.
What kind of information would a child of two or three be able to give to their interrogators? What do they know? They are strangers in a strange land who don’t speak the language and can’t lead anyone to their home, and their parents are often only known to them as Mummy and Daddy. What kind of nightmare is this going to create in these children long-term? Will they love themselves? Or will they think of themselves as totally unworthy of love and kindness.
What does feeling unloved bring about? I’m sure you can guess. Just look at the violence in the streets, our prisons, the many unsolved crimes, and the mass murders which seem to be on the rise. It’s the rare child who comes out of a nightmare and turns their life into a dream. Very rare. If they are lucky enough to get really kind teachers or foster parents, they might beat the odds, but so many won’t, and this can help to explain why kids who grow up in the Western World—a place which many residents and leaders feel is so superior in every way—travel abroad and become terrorists fighting against the very society they grew up in.
From online bullying to physical in your face bullying and taunts, we seem to be living in a society of hatred and nastiness. I don’t remember ever seeing the kind of behaviour exhibited in today’s world back when I was young. This society of today is completely unrecognizable to me. There were always a few jerks in the neighbourhood, but when did they become the norm? When did it become acceptable for there to be so many guns and shootings on a daily basis, even here in Canada? The States, I can understand, but not Canada. Here in the Lower Mainland of BC, there is a tremendous rise in gang shootings. They are almost a daily occurrence now. Ridiculous! And the modern version of mass murder, mowing down crowds with moving vehicles, has reached our borders, too. We are in trouble in our world.
“It’s the rare child who comes out of a nightmare
and turns their life into a dream.”
War is everywhere. Unrest is everywhere. Terrorism is trickling into every country. Refugees as a whole seem to be the largest single population on the planet. Nationalism and a re-visiting of Nazi culture is on the rise worldwide. Religious war has escalated into a modern version of the Crusades. The U.S. is experiencing a division in political and cultural behaviour not seen since the Civil War of the mid-1800’s. From economics to racial discrimination, to power struggles of the elite, the U.S. is spiralling down from the position it once held as a relatively respected world leader, into a society that is, in many places, being hated and dissed at all levels.
Returning vets from WWI and WWII came back with their innocence gone and many of them took out their frustration, sorrow and confusion on their families and friends, but back then they were told to suck it up. Of course, that didn’t help. Instead it often created a society with increasing alcoholism and domestic abuse. The many wars since have produced as many mentally injured as well as physically wounded. PTSD is probably the most well-known acronym of the times. It is the most common mental illness of our day.
America, untouched by a modern-day war on its own soil, which could produce displacement of its own citizenry, lately is experiencing a refugee crisis caused by natural calamity, as fires race up the west coast, burning everything in site. And while so many of America’s own people reject the idea of welcoming refugees from other lands, one would hope that this glimpse into the world of so many around the world, would lighten their hearts and motivate them to open their doors to their fellow human beings who are starving, homeless and suffering terribly because of bombing and aggression inflicted upon them by, very often, their own leadership. I cannot even imagine what it would feel like to have bombs falling on you and to see your loved ones killed or even worse, wounded, in front of you and know there is no help for them anywhere nearby; to be homeless and have to find your way to some kind of shelter while the bombs are still falling; to hear the screams of your own child, wife or husband and know there is nothing you can do. If that didn’t bring on PTSD, well, I don’t know what would.
So there you have it: some really obvious reasons why hatred, mental illness, and meanness are rampant worldwide. And the solutions? How do we teach the unloved to love themselves? How do we teach the unloved to love their neighbour? And how do we teach them to love God? Or even believe in God?
At this stage of the game, I think we have to become incredibly active. In other words, spread our love around. Learn to love ourselves, and then love our neighbour to the best of our ability. Understand God created us in His image to do what Jesus did: to love everyone including us. And not to hold back. And to realize that mankind inflicts these torments on itself, not God. When we reach out to the Divine, He reaches back.
Through charity and genuine caring we can spread the love. And through prayer we can ask the Divine to assist us to help those who have not been lucky enough to experience the love they needed to become balanced and confident citizens.
So the answer to this nightmare is to love. Just as Jesus did. To be kind and charitable and help our neighbour. Be friendly to the lonely. Share our time, not just our money. Pray for the homeless. Pray for those who live in constant fear, to be comforted. And when you can, be the comforter. Pray for those in war-torn countries. Pray for the leaders of our world to open their eyes and do the right thing.
Pray for peace.
Share the love with yourself. Give yourself a hug every night and every morning. Look in the mirror and tell yourself what a wondrous gift you are to the world and to your family (even if they don’t appear to realize it). You can even give yourself a kiss in the mirror.
Then go out and put a smile on your face. Be kind to the person who is checking your groceries. Ask them how they are? And wait to hear their answer. Thank the teller at the bank for their good work. Smile at your neighbour. Put your cell phone down and look around you. Talk to your friends and parents and other relatives, in person, the way we did not so long ago. Hug and kiss your children. And whenever you have to discipline them, remember to say you love them before you start into the problem at hand. Never go to bed without telling your spouse and children that you love them. And start the day with a kiss and a hug.
Let God know you love Him. Let Him know how important He is in your day. Everyday.
Spread the love around. For it’s the answer to our time.
May the Lord bless you and keep you.