Sunday, January 01, 2006
The power of love
In reading about the movie, I saw a quote that was purportedly from the book that the movie was based on. It was about the Christ-like figure of the series, a lion named Aslan: "He's not safe... but he's good." That was what was stirring in my brain, you see, because it's how I think about love.
Love is powerful; love is more powerful than anything.
Those of you who know how I think know that you could substitute the word "good" or "goodness" or "righteousness" in for "love", because I consider them to be equivalent. It's an article of faith for me; and it is the type of faith that I feel Jesus was talking about when he told his followers that faith could move mountains.
Do what's right... and don't worry about what happens next. Do what's right, and have faith that righteousness will carry the day.
Now, it just so happens that I think that doing what's right depends on the circumstances of a situation. If a person needs help carrying a heavy load, I might lend a hand... but not if they're trying to hide the body of a murder victim. If a person is trying to hurt someone else, my desire not to fight will be overcome by my desire to protect an innocent victim. If telling the truth might cause a hostage taker to kill hostages, a lie might be the right thing to do. I claim that making war is the penultimate evil, and should be reserved to prevent the ultimate evil. I am kidding, of course; there are many evils that might need to be stopped through warfare, but the point still remains: one should only commit to something as terrible as warfare, if it is the only way that will stop something worse.
Love isn't stupid; in fact, love is best served by careful thinking and a great deal of wisdom. Keeping that in mind, I say one should always do right, and one should always be loving. The power of love, or of righteousness, will be all that you need.
But then the objections come out. Aren't good people harmed by evil people? Don't thieves steal and rapists rape and murderers murder? Is there true justice in this world? How could I say that love is so powerful?
And that's where faith comes in. I don't know... I can't prove it. I can support it, but support isn't proof.
Love can protect you; though a military unit might not call it love, the mutual trust they hold in each other makes them all safer and stronger, and "greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for another".
People who are loving in thought, word, and deed, will not make enemies as frequently as those who are not, and those enemies will be those who can sustain enmity in the face of love. As love binds people together, its lack will weaken those who would attack those who stand their ground with love in their hearts.
Sincere love will inspire awe in others, and those others are more likely to help when good, loving people need help.
There are a lot of good reasons why love might be more powerful than indifference. One of the biggest reasons is that, if you act without love in your heart, you've lost the joy that love can bring. What would you sacrifice for the joy that loving others can bring? What would it take for you to make up for that joy, if it was lost?
But none of that is proof, and the fact of the matter is, the world can be a scary, uncertain, and sometimes, very painful place, and love can have it's price.
Love does not mean being foolish, and trusting a person who has proven to be untrustworthy... but it does leave you more open to betrayal.
Love does not mean giving until you have nothing left to give; wisdom dictates that you love and nourish yourself, as well as others.
Love can mean people who will watch your back, and lay down their lives to save yours... but it can also mean that your life is the one that must be laid down for others.
And love can mean accepting a risk, because the love in your heart denies you the ability to do what it would take to eliminate that risk.
Love means trying to understand those who hate you, hoping you can erase the differences; if not, love can help you stand your ground and fight back, knowing you will fight only when absolutely necessary.
Love means refusing to torture, even if torture might yield intelligence to protect you and others.
Love means refusing to let innocent people suffer, unless there is truly no choice, even if an unnecessary war might potentially yield many important benefits to your nation.
Love means, if we must choose, we would rather die ourselves, than visit suffering and death on those who do not deserve it. Better not to die at all, to fight evildoers when needed, with minimal harm to others, but if there is going to be a choice, better to suffer ourselves, than to force innocent people to suffer in our place.
And love might mean that someday, I will die in the name of love, rather than live on, having loved less.
But I ask myself, would I have more joy, if I lived longer and loved less?
And if I turned from love because of my fear of suffering or death, would I not always have to question if love and righteousness might have won the day?
Might I not still suffer, and die, with less love in my heart?
And might I still win, and survive, and thrive, because of the love in my heart?
I'll never know what course is right for another. I can't even promise that I am strong enough to stay on the course I've pledged for myself.
But I know this: so long as my courage holds firm, and my faith remains strong, I will always choose love... no matter what the cost.