Love & Empathy

Have you read the news lately? It’s a bit discouraging, right?

With all the lies, and all the hate, and all the turmoil in our society today, I suppose it is time for a post on love.

What is love?

Perhaps the poet Rumi said it best, “What was said to the rose that made it open was said to me here in my chest.” Love is beyond description. Love is beyond what we know. We channel it from within us outward to light up the world. And like a flower that shines to share all it has to continue the cycle of life, it is love that drives us to share all we have to nurture the next generation.

We can’t really see love, or hear it, or smell it, or touch it, or taste it, yet we use the senses to express and receive love every day. There are many forms of love, such as love for a romantic partner, love for a friend, love for a parent or child, love for a pet… Our hearts can be deprived of it for years, and then in a moment we can become absolutely drunk with love, and fall clumsy, and goofy, and silly. At the same time, where once love was abundant, we may find that only little remains, or that the type of love has changed.

For so many of us, it is love that gives us meaning in our lives. In caring for others, we strive to assist, nurture, and provide, and in so doing, we find purpose. And perhaps it is love that sparks empathy. Most of us have a capacity for empathy, but who or what we empathize with may vary greatly from individual to individual.

Empathy, among other things, seems lacking these days. From school shootings, to racial conflicts, to political chaos, it seems too many people have lost the ability to understand others, to see their points view, and to share their feelings.

Morality itself is in jeopardy. On both sides of the political arena, people have sacrificed honesty, integrity, and dignity, in their unwavering commitment to blind allegiance.

All this conflict calls to my mind the story of Larry Trapp. In short, it’s a true story about a leader of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Nebraska who, when confronted with the unwavering love of a rabbi, ultimately renounced the Klan and converted to Judaism. The story is the ultimate display of how love and tolerance can conquer prejudice and hate. To learn about the story of Larry Trapp, see the New York Times article titled, Lessons on Love, From a Rabbi Who Knows Hate and Forgiveness.

While the current political scene in America is of great concern to me, I find that I am far more disturbed by the overwhelming presence of prejudice and intolerance among the public. As Jack Johnson has sung, “Where have all the good people gone?”

In reality, good people abound, but there is a disturbing trend among some groups in the direction of hate.

What is the point of hate? And how will hate help us to achieve anything?

America is the melting pot of the world. We are the amalgamation of every race, every religion, every culture, and every belief. In nature, diversity is fundamental to the health and vitality of every ecosystem. In America, diversity is fundamental to our health and vitality as a nation. It is diversity that has driven us to dizzying heights of economic success. It is diversity of background and thought that has fueled innovation in health care, manufacturing, computer technology, performing arts, and so many other industries. Diversity has carried this nation to its place as a leader in the world.

Our lives are made better because of diverse minds and ideas. When technology saves a friend from dying in a car accident, we have diversity to thank. When a parent is saved from the grasp of decease or cancer by advances in medicine, we have diversity to thank. All that we enjoy from food, to music, to travel, is sensational because of diversity.

Our progress in the previous decades to embrace equality, to provide equal opportunities, and to give everyone the strength to succeed, has fostered unprecedented growth. Granted, we have not always succeeded in providing opportunities for all. Our systems are not perfect. There is much to be improved. But we have come so far in a positive direction. There is a reason why so many immigrants come here to make their mark in the world.

The American paleontologist Stephan Jay Gould once said, “I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.”

In America, we must nurture this “equal talent.” In America, we must fight for opportunities for all, so that all can realize the full extent of their capacities and share with this world the gift of everything they were born to be. In America, we must provide the mechanisms for all people to shine because this is true freedom!

America is teetering. We are, increasingly, the laughing-stock of the world. Our influence as a leader is waning. And it is hate and intolerance and prejudice and indecency that are driving us downward.

We must not forget how we came to be who and what we are! Look upon our own history with open and honest eyes. As we came together, we grew stronger. Love, not hate, is the most powerful force in this world.

We must put down our fists. We must withhold our hateful rhetoric. Differences there may be between you and me, but let us overcome them with love, not hate, and with courage, not fear.

We must look around us and see that this Nation is the sum of a splendid diversity of parts. And we must realize that we are only as strong as our weakest link, and hate is a very weak link!

We are all in this together. No group is forcing any other group out of here. We either win together or lose together. There is no single victor.

So, let us strive to understand one another. Let us appreciate the importance of each other. Let us work together as a team coupled by unbreakable links of love, and support, and understanding.

We may fail at times. We may frown when we should smile, and judge when we should understand, but all the while we must strive to be good, to be kind, and to help those around us to stand and shine. One lonely star in the midnight sky is hardly a spectacle to behold, but a trillion individual stars, radiating with all their might, and sharing their colors with all, create the brilliance of the universe.

We are meant to shine together, and it is love that makes this possible.

2 Comments on “Love & Empathy

  1. Gah! You got me all in a puddle over here….
    “Differences there may be between you and me, but let us overcome them with love, not hate, and with courage, not fear.”
    ….Such deep wisdom ❤️

    • Thanks Christin 🙂 What wisdom lies herein was aroused by the influence of a friend’s tender heart. Even without intention, some people just make this world a better place. Thank you!

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