This morning I am thinking a lot about Love. I have often heard the phrase “Love conquers all”, and I will be honest that sometimes I have considered this to be a tired cliché. However, over the years I have increasingly come to believe that Love is stronger than anything. As simplistic as it may sound, when we are faced with a problem in our lives, individually or collectively, I think it is really true that Love is the place we need to look, and Love is stronger than any other answer.
It is important to realize that Love is not the same as “niceness”. Love doesn’t deny harsh realities of our existence. It doesn’t shy from speaking truthfully about difficult situations. Love doesn’t avoid taking actions that may provoke criticism and dissent. Love doesn’t abide mistreatment and degradation—either of ourselves or others–because love is grounded in respect, dignity, and compassion. Sometimes Love sits or takes a stand and refuses to budge. Sometimes Love marches down the street in defiance of the status quo. Sometimes Love closes the door on a person who continually takes up “weapons” of hostility and violence. Love isn’t afraid to stick up for itself and for others. So it is important that we don’t confuse Love with apathy or cowardice or weakness or ignorance. Love functions in dramatically different ways than all of these modes of being.
This mural is in downtown Lexington, KY, and it is done by the artists Herakut.
Rather than being apathetic, Love is powerfully engaged. It holds a vision of peace, reconciliation, and flourishing for everyone and the whole world and refuses to let go of this vision. Rather than being cowardly, Love is courageous. It is very easy to lash out in violence, anger, and hatred when we are hurt or betrayed. It is much harder to communicate, to try to understand, to search for possible solutions, and to strive for reconciliation. This is what Love asks us to do. Rather than being weak, Love requires great strength. Love invites us to stand steadily and calmly so that we can let the cloud of pain and confusion pass in order to act more compassionately and reasonably. Rather than being ignorant, Love is the wisest thing in the world. Because Love searches for solutions; works to communicate and understand; and waits patiently for clouds of pain and confusion to pass, Love sees solutions and realities that are often overlooked. Love creates a space where people and the world may disclose themselves fully.
It is true that hate, fear and violence can achieve some things. People are often greatly motivated when they are terrified, so there’s no doubt that using instruments of terror will bring about some change. But terror does not bring about long-term change. When people do things because they are terrified, their motivation is external, and as soon as the terror stops, the change stops. Changes that come through love, however, are often permanent. Love is amazing because even when it comes from an external source, Love brings about internal change—a change in perception, a change in orientation, a change in meaning. These are the types of changes that change people permanently. When we Love, we remind ourselves and others of who we are at our core: beings who have profound potential for truth, beauty, and goodness. In this way, Love is a catalyst for recollection and realignment.
There is a quite a bit of anger, hatred, rage, and division in our country right now. Perhaps we suffer with these realities in our own life as well. There is no doubt that these emotions and instruments have a lot strength and power to affect us. That is why this is exactly the time that we need to remember that there is something stronger. Love is stronger than anything.