1. Do not become numb to the pain of others.
The cries of those suffering in our world can become a loud, monotonous drone in the ears of the weary. The constant pain we hear and see everyday– from those in our family, our country, and in our world– is so vast and loud that none of us can handle to look straight into the darkness without collapsing onto the floor in a fetal position, a river of tears and sadness running from our faces.
But we must look and see. We must listen and hear. We are called to love the widows, the orphans, the poor, the oppressed, and the abused in our world. We are not called to discriminate, to blame the victim, or to put our own needs over theirs; we are called to love all of “them.”
We can’t love them if we don’t see them. We can’t love them if we don’t listen to them, try to understand their pain, and to understand their point of view.
What pain are we numbing?
- The immigrants in our country that are separated from their families because they couldn’t access the right help in their community; that is painful.
- The clothing and products we buy that are made by enslaved children on the other side of the world; that is painful.
- The plastic products we use to make our lives more convenient that never degrades and floats in the ocean destroying our natural world, and the toxins that we use and produce to make those products; that is painful.
- The black and white politics that are so polarized that individuals take it upon themselves to seek victory for their side by sending bombs in the mail to people they disagree with; that is painful.
- The women that are forced into sexual businesses in our own neighborhoods; that is painful.
- The individuals that shoot up and bomb public places, including children, out of hatred or a false sense of righteousness; that is painful.
- The money that controls us: The corporations that pollute our planet, the big businesses that puppeteer our government officials, the technology that tracks our every move in order to sell us their products and advertise to us; that is painful.
- The discrimination, prejudice, abuse, and hate on the basis of race, ethnicity, religious views, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender, political views, or anything else; that is painful.
- The women and men that take advantage of each other, abuse the prevalence of real issues like sexual assault and rape, and use sexually and domestically abuse and manipulate each other; that is painful.
- The children that come to school hungry, and the bureaucracy that overcomplicates and halts the process of giving orphaned children a new family and future; that is painful.
- The numbing drugs we are all addicted to: substances, fast food, social media, sensationalized propaganda, conspiracy theories, reality TV shows, confirmation bias, hate, mudslinging; that is painful.
If we allow ourselves to become numb to the pain and suffering in our world, are we any better than the selfish individuals that perpetuate these issues? How can we love these people without waking up, paying attention, and seeking to understand and empathize with all of these individuals and groups in pain, and compassionately help them?
2. Do not be afraid to speak your truths.
One of my truths is that I no longer believe that all of the Bible was inspired by God. This one truth changes everything in my spiritual journey, and alters the way I manifest Christianity.
I was so scared of the questions that led me to that conclusion for so long that it took me years to release my iron fist on the Bible and instead hold it with open palms and an open heart. When I allowed myself to doubt and to let go of my need to be right, I felt like a more whole, complete, and free version of myself.
Your truth might not be religious suppression. It could be a past trauma or abuse, political disagreement with those closest to you, something you secretly care about, a secret you’ve kept about your sexuality, or anything else. The only way to manifest yourself fully is to let go of those secrets and speak your truths, even when those truths are difficult to say and hear. Fear can prevent everyone from fully living their lives in an honest, vulnerable way, which then prevents intimate relationships from forming.
They won’t always love your truth.
You may face negative reactions to your truths. You might be hated, blamed, ignored, misunderstood, or ostracized. But living in dishonesty, especially about something core and foundational about how you want to live your life, will ultimately result in your inability to bond fully with the people around you. It is, perhaps, better to be brave than to be silent.
It follows, then, that our society needs to create space for everyone’s truth to be released and accepted in love. We need to be open-minded to other people that live in our community and manifest themselves differently from us. We can’t let our own truths become so important that we form enemies against those with different truths. When someone close to us admits a truth that you disagree with, don’t push them away. Make space in your mind to understand them. Don’t shut them out, or leave them hanging in the wind, or imagine there is something wrong with them– love them for their bravery and honesty.
3. Be willing to be wrong, and change accordingly.
It is diversity that makes our world challenging, beautiful, and rich. When an individual paints with one color from the day they are born to the day they die, and never opens themselves up to new ideas, they stagnate. If we as a community never compromise with one another, blending our colors and finding the middle ground, we will continue to live in separate camps, and hatred will continue building. That isn’t how love works.
Think about confirmation bias in the information you consume. How often do you open your mind to new, opposing ideas? If you question the world around you, and return to where you started, perhaps that is part of your truth. However, if you are afraid to question yourself, perhaps you are afraid of finding out that you’re wrong.
No, like actually change.
Then, truly be open to having your mind changed. Have humility, and understand that your first answer might not be the only answer, and it certainly may not be the right answer. Don’t be afraid of being wrong, and don’t be afraid to speak a new, better truth when you stumble upon it.
A person who is in constant pursuit of bettering themselves will be constantly changing. Be always in pursuit of growth, and be open to new ideas that you never would have listened to before. When you find a new truth, when your perspective changes, or when you discover that you’ve been wrong for a long time; change it.
Don’t set the thought aside. Act on it. You may need to pick an appropriate time, venue, or group of people, but share your journey with others. If your beliefs have shifted, act in a new way, talk in a new way. Help the world change alongside you.
If love truly is the most important thing, then why is the world so clouded by hate? Because we numb out the pain and suffering of others, we keep our truths to ourselves, and we don’t hear and see others. We are afraid to speak out, or afraid to be wrong. We let fear and weariness control our lives. But if we are in the pursuit of love, we must be brave in the face of fear and strong in the face of weariness. We must love better.