I’ve been weighing a lot on my mind in light of current events and social standards. Many messages are blasting across our screens, newspapers, and radio waves every moment of every day. Here are a few of the main thoughts:
“Love, and acceptance- you need to open your hearts to the world. Everyone is hurting, be there for them.”
“Fear is hate. Fear is hate. Fear is hate…”
“Love everyone- unless they hurt you. Then cut that poison out of your life.”
So, how am I supposed to know who to love, who to trust, who to fear; and how is hate defined again? I’m going to try to step into this massive pile of confusion and put it out there the way I have come to understand my relationships.
Human Decency. Yes, there is a standard. A simple standard of human decency. I don’t have to trust you, confide in you, love you, or even know you, to express this. It’s called being human. I’m human, and I acknowledge you are human too. This decency is a standard that prevents rape, murder, kidnapping, etc. It is a nod at the grocery store, a smile when you wave, a recognition that we’re spinning past each other in this vast, wide world, and we’re on an equal plain. I’m not higher than you; you’re not higher than me. Carry on!
Love. The definition I’ll be referring to here: unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the benefit of another. This love is our calling as representations of Christ. It’s a higher calling. A deeper care. It’s the ‘clothe the naked, feed the hungry’ kind of love. It’s a deeper understanding that we all have screwed up sometimes, and we all need forgiveness. It’s knowing that the pain someone is inflicting on those around them is often coming from their personal pain. It’s being able to extend genuine care towards a person that has hurt you, and people group that has wronged your people. It’s holding nothing against any man, regardless of race, religion, or background.
Trust. Trust is committing my life to you. Trust is: “Here is my hand, let’s go through this craziness together”. Trust is, by definition: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. Trust is something that isn’t pressed on us to give to anyone. Trust can’t be forced, it can’t be demanded. Trust can only be given, and only out of a heart of complete love and mutual care. I don’t ‘owe’ it to anyone. It’s something that is a rare gift, and an incredible one to receive. It isn’t a ‘fundamental human right’, and it isn’t something anyone of us gives quickly to strangers or people who have proven themselves unworthy of our trust.
Hate. So, which of these emotions is the opposite of fear? And can you, by definition, call fear hate? I don’t think so. I can treat someone I fear with human decency and even love. The definition of fear is simply to be afraid of something/someone. It’s a reaction that comes, not from a lack of love- but a lack of trust. Maybe when we stop confusing love with trust, we can begin to understand the love of Christ, and the love we each should carry towards every man. In closing, the definition of hate: an intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury. This attitude does breach human decency, and this is something we shouldn’t allow towards any one- not because it will ruin them, but because it will eat out our very own heart. It’s not the fear response that equals hate; it isn’t the hurt that we feel from the pain someone inflicts; those responses are natural, normal, and even healthy. No, fear isn’t hatred, but what you allow your heart to do with that broken trust, that pain, or that fear might be.
*I do just want to say, these are my personal thoughts specifically in regard to current events (though I had my rough draft typed up before the bombings last night). This is in no way extensive, and everyone needs to find their personal way down their own path and through their individual circumstances and pain. I also want to say that I believe the individuals role in society is different from the governments. The government has a completely separate call, and their duty is primarily towards their own citizens. They are obviously held to human decency, but I think it’s lunacy to hold them to anything further. They simply can’t afford to extend trust to others, and they aren’t really compelled to love either. But that is another topic for another time.