What the World Needs Now…

MrRogersIn wake of recent events in Orlando, the sentiment that we need more love in the world has been prominent, and rightly so. Trite-but-true phrases about loving one another have been all over my news feeds. All this talk of loving has got me thinking about what that really means. It is easy to say you love someone you’ve never met who is thousands of miles away, when it only has to be in the abstract. But what are some ways that love can be put into practice? I have been lazy about love recently. Here is what I plan to work on:

  1. Speaking up when I see or hear something. I am guilty of not doing this. Often I let friends and family members’ racist or homophobic or sexist posts scroll past, or let there comments go without remark. Relationships are important, but so are lives, and that is what is at stake.
  2. Vocally letting people know I am holding a safe space. Again, I am guilty of not doing this. I do not often express my views in public ways. How is someone supposed to know they can turn to me without judgment if they do not know where I stand?
  3. Holding space. I am learning more and more how powerful it is to craft one’s own narrative. It helps us make sense of things; it helps us define who we are; it helps us connect to others. By allowing our loved ones the room to explore their story we can show them that they matter. We can show them that they belong. And while we cannot take away the grief or pain or confusion or whatever it may be that they are experiencing, we can walk with them.
  4. Listening…yet another skill for me to work on. Really, truly listening requires vulnerability. If some one disagrees with us or has an experience that to share that we cannot relate to, it can feel threatening. Listening means taking our defenses down and seeking to understand. I want to be able to listen when someone tells says that my comments are hurtful. I want to be able to take it as an opportunity to re-evaluate myself, instead of seeing it as a chance to talk them out of their opinion.

Mr. Rogers is quoted as saying, “Love isn’t a perfect state of caring. It’s an active noun like ‘struggle’. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” I want to add more of that kind of love to the world.

What other ways have you found to make loving a more active process?

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6 Responses

  1. A Happy Hubby says:

    Touching information about how he washed the feet of others at http://www.npr.org/2016/03/11/469846519/walking-the-beat-in-mr-rogers-neighborhood-where-a-new-day-began-together

    I never was all that big into his show, but decades later I have come to respect and admire the love he had for others. We do need more of that.

  2. Quimby says:

    Vote wisely. Vote for candidates who might actually do something about gun violence. I’m so fed up with this cycle. Every freaking time, there’s the hand-wringing; the “Ooooh, we need answers, what can we do, if only there was something that would change this!” – and nothing ever changes. It’s entirely disingenuous at this point. There is an answer; it’s gun control. (Don’t think it works? Look at Australia – 20 years of empirical evidence saying gun control stops mass shootings and saves lives.)

    There will always be stupid, hateful, mean, spiteful, evil people in the world. You can’t change them. But you can do more to keep them from getting their hands on weapons of mass destruction.

    • Quimby says:

      And because I can hear it now (“Oh no, this is about showing love, this isn’t about politics!”) I will state, emphatically and for the record, that actively seeking to save lives through voting for candidates that are pro gun control is absolutely about love. Taking concrete steps to save lives, taking concrete steps to keep violent people from getting their hands on weapons, is absolutely about love.

      Your homophobic great-aunt Mabel isn’t likely to take up a gun and shoot up her local gay bar. By all means, tell her she’s out of line when she complains about your cousin Mike and his upcoming wedding to his boyfriend; but she’s not the problem. She’s not going to take any lives. The real issue here is keeping people who will, from doing so. That takes more than love. That takes concrete legislative steps.

  3. spunky says:

    I’m a fan of the five love languages, and using them for everyone. It really isn’t hard, and if it is someone you’ve just met for the first time, then showing manners, being polite and listening for ways to show them you care is really easier than not.

    Great post.

  4. Liz says:

    I love all of these ideas. It’s hard to figure out how to hold space and care for people who are hurt for very different reasons, too. I think we need to move towards a conversation aimed at reconciliation between deep ideological divides, but I don’t know how that happens without us being willing to listen to each other’s stories and admit we might be wrong about some things. It’s hard.

  5. EFH says:

    In my personal and social life, I have found that sometimes I need to take a break to process my feelings in order to express them well. So, I try not to be reactive but address the issue adequately when I can verbalize my feelings and thoughts well in order for others to understand me better. I react immediately only if I see or hear something done publicly and I want to make sure that I put that action and phrase on the wall of shame (and sometime the person too) so that the people present see that there is in fact opposition to that kind of thinking and acting. Even if no one agrees with my position, I think it is important for everyone to see that there is opposition and everyone better check their mouths before they hurt others with their comments.

    I also want to add that every one goes through phases. I know that I was not as tolerant and understanding 15 years ago as I am now. So, it is important to recognize in everyone that learning curve and give them space to develop and learn. Everyone changes as they experience life and society and it is important to provide constructive criticism and stay away from labeling them. This creates bridges of friendship that are necessary to bind hearts together.

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