When I think about the prompt, “change and changes”, I immediately think about the current condition of our world and all the ills that need to be cured. As I ponder the multitude of tragedies, misfortunes, stubbornness, heartbreaks, injustices, oppression, hatred, abuse, exploitation, inhumane acts, discrimination, and the list goes on; I can’t help but notice the core issues than have caused such a tumultuous and chaotic climate to arise. Upon reflecting over these issues; I see selfishness, ignorance, misunderstanding, miscommunication, and pride as the underlying perpetrators of such distress. It seems to me that selfishness and pride are at the heart of this mayhem. Misunderstanding, miscommunication, and ignorance just exacerbate the pandemonium.
We need to make a foundational change to the way we live; producing ripples reaching all ends of our lives. If we want any real and sustainable change that will alter the course of history, we need to learn how to live in love. I hear talk about how people needing to love more all the time in speeches, over social media, in common conversation. Unfortunately, I fear we don’t have the correct understanding of what love is and its transforming power. After getting a clear understanding of what love really is, we can start to see how love is the only thing strong enough to fix this earth and is pertinent to halt the incessant selfishness of humanity that holds us from holiness.
Long-term change never comes from merely attempting to change habits or actions, but only comes from going deeper and revising the desires of the heart. We must not rely on people’s ability to force themselves into love by sheer will, but from reconstructing their heart to desire to love. But, what is love? And what do people think love is? Love can be an elusive term to define because it can be a broad concept, and expressed in so many ways. Often when I hear people talk about love, they are either talking about compassion, kindness, sympathy, empathy, understanding, forgiveness, grace, mercy or similar altruistic characteristics. It’s evident that these are all parts of love and an expression of love; however, they don’t give us the full picture of love. Compassion and understanding are honorable and valuable, but don’t represent the fullness of love. Forgiveness and grace are admirable and necessary, but alone don’t do love justice. Love is seen when all those characteristics are present, plus more.
Love is patient and kind, it doesn’t envy or boast, it isn’t arrogant, it doesn’t insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it doesn’t rejoice in wrongdoing but with truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. There is no fear in love, for love casts out betrayal and punishment. Love is treating others as yourself. Love is laying down one’s self for another. It challenges, yet affirms. It will tell you everything that’s bad about you, but also tell you everything that’s good about you. Love will mend you together when your self-esteem is broken, but will break you when you become arrogant. Love is the oxymoron that contains both prioritizing sensitivity of feelings over truth, but also prioritizing truth over feelings.
At its very core, love consists of sacrifice, commitment, truth, and action. You can’t truly love someone if you ignore truth. You can’t really love someone if you aren’t able to give up of yourself for them in any and every aspect. You can’t love someone if you aren’t committed to them and their well-being. Lastly, you can’t say you love someone if there are no actions to show for it.
How will this understanding of love change the way people currently live? More importantly, how will this understanding result in changing the world? Currently, the love people seem to advocate for is just a shadow, a lower call of appreciation to humanity and human dignity than the perfection of true love. In short, the love I hear about tells people to be kind, understanding, and selfless from time to time. Undoubtedly, these are positive and honorable things to require of people, but love is so much more, and such a higher call of duty.
Challenging people to live in a love of sacrifice, commitment, truth, and action contains the essential substance needed to change this world from a selfish, prideful, and ignorant place; to filling this earth with humans who treat strangers as themselves and lays down their life for friends. Selfishness and pride have been love eating diseases corrupting the human heart, leaving people self-centered and unconcerned with strife that doesn’t directly affect them. The symptoms of these abhorrent lifestyles are expressed in the countless people who don’t even try to understand a contrary life view, and so are unwilling to accept anything outside their own framework.
We need love to attack the selfishness and pride in people. This is why sacrifice and commitment are such a necessary part of love. No change of any value will come if we aren’t challenging people to sacrifice their own life in every aspect for others, and if we aren’t pushing for this world to be committed to one another. Imagine the kind of progress we could make if everyone was willing to sacrifice their own personal advantages and status, for that of another person. Imagine the kind of passion for improvement and empathy we would see if we can get people in the world to be committed to each other.
We would make this world anew if everyone was focused on pursuing the personal gain of others over themselves. If we could get people to be committed to all humans, we would see a new definition of what it means to fight for humanity and human rights. Destroying selfishness and pride would have incalculable effects on the improvement of this earth. Selfishness and pride blind people to seeing the cares and circumstances of others. Removal of selfishness and pride would allow for a clearer reality and would give room for the agony in this world to convict the heart.
A world that incorporates truth and commitment in love wouldn’t allow misunderstanding and ignorance to fester as it currently does. Misunderstanding and ignorance would just go out the window. You won’t accept being ignorant or misunderstanding someone if you truly value truth. A love that was saturated in truth would compel you to work to make sure all misunderstandings are eradicated. You would despise the idea of being ignorant and wouldn’t speak on things you knew nothing about. A truth filled love would always be on guard for misconceptions and false conclusions. It would work tirelessly to understand all that it could.
A love that requires commitment, forces people to be emotionally invested in others and their well-being. This means you must get to know that person, you must try to understand who they are and the way they think. Being committed to someone inevitably ends up with you caring for them. You become involved in their flourishing, and they too become involved in your flourishing. Once you become committed to someone, yours and their well-being become dependent upon on how well you treat and care for each other. The inescapable truth is though; the more relationships that someone is involved in that consists of a two-way commitment, there’s an exponential enhancement of their well-being.
So much miscommunication and talking past each other happens when the opposing sides aren’t committed to each other in any way. So, they aren’t concerned with getting to know the other side and their thoughts and experiences. Too often it seems like people are arguing about concepts and ideas, and forgetting that there are real people on the other side of those concepts or ideas. They stand high on their built-up systems of thought and philosophy as they overlook the fact that there are people’s lives at stake in their conversations, as they remain blind to the fact that being right is a distant second to the joy of compassion.
Lastly, we can’t let people talk about love if they don’t have action as the cornerstone of love. It would be fantastic to get everyone to be convicted to be more sacrificial, more committed, and pursuing truth more fervently, but if this conviction doesn’t lead to action, then it’s only folly. We can talk until our face is blue about how we need to sacrifice for people, be empathetic, graceful, generous, understanding, and kind; but if no one is acting those virtues out, then we have accomplished nothing. That is why it is imperative that action be central to love.
You cannot show love if you don’t actually do anything for someone. If you talk about wanting to sacrifice for someone more, commit to people more, live in truth more, but don’t do any of those things, then you aren’t loving. Sacrifice, commitment, truth, and action are all essential to what it truly means to love, and if we believe that love can change this world, then the love we need to see and perform must contain all those things at all times. If not, we will continue to bring a knife to a gun fight when fighting for this world’s salvation.