love like it’s 75% off

I don’t know about you but I’m particularly fond of things that I buy on sale, and not just any sale, but huge 75% off type savings. It can be a truly religious experience for me 😉

One of the things I struggle with is the “love thy neighbor like yourself” concept. This struggle has become more obvious to me since attending the Quaker meetings. Each Sunday there is a gentleman who stands up at the end of the meeting to ask us to hold in the light whoever the state of Texas is about to execute. I’m very much against the death penalty and I admire this man who can think of these criminals in such a caring way. I’m not sure I am able to do this with as much sincerity.

I was thinking about this concept while driving down a busy street the other day. As I looked at my surroundings, trees, people at a bus stop, birds sitting on a telephone pole I felt nothing for them, other than idle curiosity. I wondered what it would be like to really care for each of these people/things. What if I could love them like they were mine, like my own children, like something that was 75% off!

But if I had this much love for everything wouldn’t it blind me to the bad things in the world? Wouldn’t I become the type of person to only see good and miss the pain; making excuses for anything bad that happened because deep down everyone’s good. I’ve know people like this, it’s the opposite of the pessimist and far beyond the optimist, it’s the “nothing’s ever really wrong” uber happy people. I want to slap them, because ultimately if you see no pain you see nothing to change, nothing to fight for.

Maybe I was making excuses for why I didn’t have to care. I mean, I didn’t want to lose my perspective right? Caring too much might make me the disgusting uber happy person I dreaded. I didn’t want to not see pain and therefore not feel compelled to do anything about it. That was my excuse anyway.

Almost instantly I realized that it’s only in the caring that you truly see the pain. It is the love that opens you up to see and respond to someone else’s need. A need you probably didn’t even know existed until you loved them. As opposed to blinding me to all that was negative, it would open my eyes to the real and expansive understanding of human pain and love.

I actually started crying in traffic when I realized this. Such a simple concept that I had never grasped before.

I’m not at the point yet where I can see the positive side of everyone, but I work at it daily. And it certainly takes the religious experience out of shopping and puts it where it belongs.

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4 thoughts on “love like it’s 75% off

  1. Ken says:

    Your posting today reminds me of the Milgram experiment. We are willing to annihilate each other, if we can escape responsibility. We are less likely to zap the people we are closest to, but even then, we might.

    Yesterday’s posting reminds me how much depends on visions – visions of the day, visions of the night.

  2. Jodi says:

    Visions have become so important to me. I used to never do it, but when I just let myself go and “see” things I find it so moving and totally inspirational.

    I wasn’t familiar with the Milgram Experiement, but just looked it up – scary stuff!

  3. Sybil says:

    I so identified with you today in this posting. I find myself so often worrying/caring about people who do things that we consider wrong in society. I have always called it my own little personal curse. How did they get to that point? What did they miss as a child that created an abhorant reaction in their world? I am not, certainly a person who can see always the “good” in other people, and, lord knows I am not someone who is “uber happy”. But I do struggle with feelings about people that break my heart and mostly I don’t even know them. I struggle with those feelings not just with folks who are “bad” , but also with people who have less, work hard all their lives to just make it, don’t have the opportunity to have a decent education or health care. I don’t know how they do it. I admire their spirits …

    I grew up in a lovely 1950s middle class small town (ok,then it really was a small town near a big city), but we were all alike. Our fathers all had good jobs and we lived in nice homes and we went to good schools and everyone knew everyone – and we were all “good” people. We did all the right things in part because we had been taught to do them and in part because if we didn’t someone would know about it and tell our parents because everyone knew everyone’s parents. A community! We knew about “bad” people but we didn’t know any of them. We went to school, we graduated and we went to college, and for me, going to a school like TCU meant I just went to a college that was just like the place I grew up with all the same kinds of people. And, then I moved to New York City. (this was in the early 60s) I lived in Harlem. I saw a world that was supposed to be the “bad” world. Wow, what an amazing discovery I made. I thought that if I had lived in some of the conditions that I saw people living in I might steal food from the grocery stores or booze for the liquor stores or even money just to get what I needed. I’m not excusing those things, but for the first time in my life I actually thought about why people were bad. And then I had an opportunity to take a class taught by C. Eric Lincoln, an amazing sociologist and I started really growing, thinking, re-shaping what I believed, challenging everything I knew, pushing the boundaries of my knowledge and beliefs.

    And, so I say I struggle with feelings about people because once I had opened myself up to those feelings it was almost like a burden at first. I couldn’t do anything about how people lived and the injustices of our society; I could only feel the feelings. Which probably explains a lot of why I’ve gone down some of the paths I’ve gone down in my life.

    I guess what I’m saying with all of this is that caring about people and looking for the positive doesn’t make one the “uber happy” person that you (and I) shudder at. Nor does it mean that one will necessarily even like all those folks one cares about. There are people who I don’t like even though I understand them and their circumstances. It means that one will have an understanding and an acknowledgement of their humaness and their divinity and can learn to have peace with oneself. At least, that has been my experience.

    Thank you for sharing yourself and for such thoughtful reflections. I have gained much from these postings.

  4. Doug says:

    Jodi, Thank you for commenting on my blog today…good stuff 🙂 DM

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