An Answer For What Ails Us…
When I was a boy all the big decisions in politics, religion, business and my local community were made by people that looked, acted and believed the same thing as my dad. They were white, religious, married and conservative.
Even the radicals were conservatives. It wasn’t their fault. To not be that way would have been like trying to escape gravity. While I am very grateful for my local upbringing, it also had built into it some faulty and ugly beliefs about race, religion and ethnicity.
Back then we a very homogenous group. For several generations millions of us came in boats seeking religious freedom and a better life, but gradually over time, the “boats” started coming from other places.
Today immigrants still come to America and more are trying to come. But now they’re black, white, brown, blended, single, married, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, educated, uneducated…some seeking escape from religious persecution, political persecution, violent communities run by drug cartels, many seeking asylum.
Just like my great grandpa Becker, they’re seeking the American dream. All of them seek a better life, only homogeneity is a thing of the past. Frankly, some of it scares me, and threatens my previous place where my beliefs and values were never questioned or threatened. All was comfortable and safe…at least for me, that is.
I sense there is an undercurrent of fear (rarely admitted) that is driving the extreme divisions we’re experiencing. Many in the highest positions of leadership have been “preaching” a narrative that assumes a “zero-sum game.” The result – there’s only so much love, money, power, and happiness to go around. Unfortunately, many have bought into this.
If the zero-sum game theory were true, then we should all embrace our greedy, fearful, lowest self and grab what we can. The results are stunningly ugly…and we’re living it out today. And…the zero-sum game is a faulty premise and bankrupt belief. Beware, because faulty beliefs carry just as much power as beliefs based on solid thinking.
I believe in an “abundant-sum game.” This is where money shared and invested (not hoarded) in wise ways and places yields exponentially better results. Power used with the family, team, community…given away (not withheld) becomes like “stepped up” electricity. Love shared multiplies, freely-given in abundance blesses and enriches other’s lives. Simply by sharing love our own capacity to love grows like deep springs of fresh water. Generosity is in itself an act of love.
I think Webster was wrong to call love a verb. Love is a noun. It is not love until it is active, seen and felt in relationship with others.
Yes, there’s a lot to be concerned about. COVID, politics, the economy, racism, etc. etc. etc. (Side note – Illinois had more than 15,000 new COVID cases Friday!) And it’s predictable. We’re getting the exact results expected based on our behavior.
Perhaps this dark moment in our country is not death and the tomb, but rather this dark moment is some type of womb. Perhaps there is a rebirth happening that will lead us to love. My religious tradition teaches that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. And…behavior motivated by fear and the zero-sum premise is not self-love. It is self-loathing, and cannot produce a healthy, loving or sustainable result.
My Christian tradition also teaches that “faith, hope and love will abide, but the greatest of these is love.” So today let’s teach and model love for our sons, daughters co-workers and communities. Love can heal what ails us in a way that politics could never. Love is the answer.
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Many of these blog entries are edited excerpts from Tender Lions: Building the Vital Relationship Between Father and Son