Saturday, September 15, 2012

Spread the Love


I feel compelled to respond to all the political “debate” taking place. Just to know, I am not much a fan of politics just as I am not much a fan of religion, even though I am both political and religious. I think both institutions have the unfortunate side effect of contributing to much anger and hatred.

The Dalai Lama has a wonderful quote that states, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” I am sure you’re aware that I lean to the left, very far to the left, maybe even farther than that. In the end, though, I can disagree with you on issues of political interest without trashing who you are as a person. I believe each individual we meet has something to teach us. Each individual is worthy of love and compassion. I know it sounds very Pollyanna-ish, but I like to take a Dalai Lama approach to the whole politically charged conversation. I love and care for you as a person. I may disagree with you on an intellectual level (sometimes vehemently) but that, to me, is not worth destroying our relationship. It is not worth belittling you in front of others. And it is not worth compromising my own character by making an ass of myself.

My political bent is very simple. My political bent is compassion for my fellow man.

I challenge myself on meeting someone with whom I disagree. I challenge myself to look for the good, to search for the light, to find what I might learn from this person, even if it is nothing more than an understanding of “the other side.”

Can I not love you even if you are not like me? Can I not care for you and wish you good things? I can hear some of you now. Oh, my gosh, she’s one of THOSE freaks. Let’s all just join hands, sing Kumbaya, and life will be just grand. Yes. I AM one of THOSE freaks. I do feel it my mission to love each person who comes in front of me, to love even when that person is not in front of me, and to love even when that person does not love me.

I have an activity I do with my students on the first day of a new semester. I have them scribble down on a scrap of paper any question at all that they would ask me about myself if they were given the opportunity, anything. Over the years, I have gotten some interesting responses. I have never refused to answer, but always reserve the right. Who does your hair? (Kathy) Where did you go to school? (Just about everywhere.) You talk funny. Where are you from? (Tennessee. Then Indianapolis.) Where did you meet your husband? (Frat party.) What do you like to do besides teach? (I enjoy long walks on the beach, soft music, candlelit dinners. For real. I also write. A little.) What would you say is your passion? Another student who has had me before shouts, “TEACHING!”

I must admit this is a question I have never had. I think on this. I think fast. I enjoy teaching, but it is not my passion. That would be like asking what I like to read and answering, “Books.” I enjoy writing, but that is not my passion. I am stuck for a response, but the young twenty-something in front of me expects an answer, and this is a question for which I, personally, would like to KNOW the answer. I enjoy reading, but again, that is not my passion. Teaching, writing, reading, spending time with family and friends, traveling to new, beautiful, interesting places. I enjoy all of these, but none are my passion. Then I have it, the underlying theme. I know. I know it now. I know what it is that I consider my life mission, my ultimate goal, my raison d’etre.

My passion, I tell the class, is promoting peace and love and compassion. I hold up two fingers on each hand, offering the peace sign, giving a warm and genuine smile, and suggesting that we all just sit around and spread the love, man, spread the love. I get a chuckle from the crowd. This is a great icebreaker. But I am serious in my answer. It does not serve me to hate you. It does not serve me, and it does not serve society.

My mother used to tell us girls to play nicely or to get away from each other. On my part, I am choosing to play nicely. I am choosing to love. Love me back or don’t. I really don’t care. Either way, my heart is filled with good feelings for you. It radiates a warmth that you need only reach out and grab. My heart is happy and full. If you will let it, it can make yours happy and full. Honestly, I think it would do the world good to get together for one gigantic group hug. I think it’s sad how so many rules are tied to the idea of loving another. Just because I am not married to you does not mean that I cannot care for you. Just because you do not believe in God the way I do does not mean that I cannot love you as a person. Just because you stand for everything I do not does not mean that I cannot envelop you in a warm embrace of peace and compassion. I can hear what you’re thinking. People just aren’t like that. It’s a nice idea, but it would never work. Some people just aren’t worth loving. Well. I say you’re wrong. I say maybe it wouldn’t work, but it is at least worth a try. I say maybe I cannot love EVERYone, but I CAN love the ONE who stands in front of me. I say maybe you have issue with me, and others think me strange for continuing to care, but I cannot stop caring because that is how I am. I say that no matter what you do, who you are, what you think of me, I can have love in my heart for you, and I can share that love. And I WILL share it. I will share because, yes, I am one of THOSE freaks.

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