Having way too much time to think while returning to Denver via Delta from a biz trip to Florida, I got to wondering about a conversation my co-worker, Casey, and I had at lunch not too long ago.
We were sitting outside at my favorite Italian restaurant (ohmigosh I adore their La Caprese! lol) having lunch when we began talking about loving our fellow man.
Sitting there watching hundreds of cars pass by, dozens of folks walking in and out of various stores and remembering the thousands of folks we encounter on the freeways each day, we couldn’t help but muse on…
But how we are supposed to LOVE all of them?
For me, when I think of ‘loving’ a person I think of how I *feel* when holding my child in my arms, seeing my best friend again after years of living in different states, going home and being with my mom and my brothers.
I have never gotten that same ‘feeling’ when stuck in a traffic jam or watching masses of people out in public going about their daily lives.
But maybe that is part of the answer right there. Maybe it’s not that fuzzy, ‘oh my gosh i never want to let you go and can’t imagine my life without you’ FEELING.
Maybe it’s much more simple
As I thought more and more about it – almost to the point where I had myself confused enough that I nearly forgot what the original goal of the thought process was – I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not that typical emotional feeling of love we’re supposed to have for all. I believe it’s much more along the lines of respect and compassion.
Maybe this loving one another is putting the Golden Rule into action in our daily lives.
(I wrote an article about the Golden Rule being a verb, you can read it here)
Love can be so many things
To me, ‘loving’ our fellow human beings, and all life on this planet we share, means that I respect their right to be. I respect their right to live and be safe and hold their own opinions. I respect their right to be healthy and happy and to earn a living.
I respect their right to be in a place where I am and where I am not and I completely respect their right to hold beliefs, views and values different from my own – even when I do not agree with them. And, I will willingly give of my time, effort, energy and attention to help better the life of another. I willingly, and even LOOK for ways to practice the Golden Rule.
To test my theory about the compassion end of it, as I de-planed in Cincinnati to catch my connecting flight, I imagined my own reaction if I were to witness one in this rushed mass of people falling seriously ill or getting injured. What would I do? What would I feel? I mean, I wouldn’t know the person – so, in the traditional emotional sense of the word, I wouldn’t ‘love’ them.
But I would react. I would be concerned and I know me well enough to know that I’d pour heart, soul and energy into doing anything and everything I could to help the person in need. I know that if I found out that one of these folks needed an ear, a shoulder, $10 for food, prayer or one of a myriad of other things I would be able to provide – I’d do it – in a heartbeat. Is that love? It’s not the touchy-feely emotional love – but it is definitely compassion.
I thought about how I feel when I see children hurt and hungry on TV – I’ve never met them, touched them, listened to them, held them but oh my gosh how my heart bleeds for them. How I want to crawl through the screen and grab every single one of them and bring them home to love and care for them. Or how my heart aches for a mother who lost her child or the family left behind after a tragedy which took one of their own.
I also considered the warmth and joy it gives me when I look for ways to ‘practice loving’.
Just arriving in Denver from Cincinnati, people were still streaming out of the jetway behind me – all of us in a hurry to get somewhere else – when an elderly woman dropped her book in the gate area where she was waiting to leave on the plane we had just left.
I caught the motion of the dropped book out of the corner of my eye and stopped to pick it up for her. It was reflex really – two elderly aunts helped to raise me and I think it’s now part of my DNA to be tuned into the needs of the elderly.
I actually was in enough of a hurry that I picked up the book, handed it to her with a quick ‘here ya go’ and turned to move on.
For whatever reason, I caught her eye. She quietly said “thank you so much” and gave me a half smile. But what I noticed were the tear tracks on her face. I have no idea what she was facing or going through, but I do know that at that moment, I loved that little lady.
Maybe this is how we love one another. Just one at a time, for a moment in time.
Love is active
I think we over-use the word ‘love’. It’s common to hear my daughter say “oh I LOVE my truck!” or my son to say “man, I LOVE chicken cordon bleu!” But they don’t, not really. They enjoy them, they appreciate them, they don’t want to lose them in their lives…but love? Nah.
Maybe we should try to ‘rewire’ our views and our semantics on unconditional love, love of humanity, and those types of phrases. Maybe we’d give it less lip service and more action if we called it ‘unconditional compassion, respect and acceptance’ of all who live in this world with us.
Or maybe we should just realize that love is active, not passive. It’s action, not an emotion.
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