Tag Archives: Ghandi

What the World Needs Now is Love

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love;  it’s the only thing there is just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love.  No, not just for some, but for everyone….”      Diana Ross sang this top selling record in 1965  as the nation was deep in the quagmire of Vietnam and  the nation was being ripped apart by internal disagreements over the war and the Civil Rights Movement.   This was the decade that saw the assassinations of  John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. It was a turbulent decade.   It was a violent decade.   It was much like the decade of which we are now a part.

I think about death a lot these days.   It seems it is always lurking around the corner and ready to pounce on me when I least expect it.  But I do not fear it because I believe in a loving God who will receive me as a father receives his child—with open arms and unconditional love.  In the Parable of the Prodigal  Son Jesus  told of this kind of love and in the Sermon on the Mount he tells how we need to love others unconditionally in the same way the Father (God) loved the Prodigal Son.  In the Sermon he says:

“You have heard that it was said ‘You shall love your neighbor and  hate your enemy’, but I say to you ‘ Love your enemies  and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your father in Heaven.'”   (Matthew 5:43-44)

In a world torn by hatred and violence; divided by LGBT gender issues; fearful of each othere to mass shootings and listening to the prophets of hatred and gloom;  where the rich grow richer at the expense of the poor; where children go to bed hungry every night while surrounded by plenty; torn by differences in religion and race—-the solution of love is the only solution.

The word ‘love’ in English can have many definitions.   The Greek and Hebrew languages do a much better job in defining a more precise meaning.   The  Hebrew word ‘hesed’ is always used to express God’s unconditional love for his children.  In Greek there are several words we translate in English as love.  

In Greek, eros is the word for physical love and sexual love.   philos is the Greek for love of brother and sister— love for family members.  The Greek word  agape is translated “love”  and is the Greek word for unconditional love—love that loves with no expectation of return.  This is unconditional love-— the love that loves us  regardless of any return of love by us.   This is the way God loves us and the way we are told by Jesus to love our neighbor in the Great Commandment:   You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul,mind and strength; and your neighbor as yourself.    

What we need in this fractured and torn world today is LOVE.   UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.    We have tried the other ways—power  as military  and economic might;   hatred;   exclusion by building walls to shut others out; arming everyone to carry guns. How have they worked for us?   Not well!    The only solution we have not tried is  Unconditional Love.  Such Love put into action is a mighty force.    Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahtma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Dorothy Day, St. Francis of Assissi and Jesus all lived by this kind of love and were a mighty force for change in their time.  They practiced agape love to the best of their ability.   Although severely and hurtfully opposed by the forces of power, in some cases jailed, beaten, and finally for King and Ghandi assassination and death—their lives and work remain a testament that love in action is a mighty force to change a fractured and torn world toward a more just and peaceful world.

Love is important!  It is what the dangerous, hurting, hatred and strife-turned world needs.   Have you ever considered what would happen if the United States used even half of the billions and billions spent on maintaining our military might and developing the means to kill our enemies to show  our love to them ?   Never underestimate the power of love to change enemies to friends.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love;

It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. 

What the world needs now is love, sweet love

No, not just for some, but for everyone!!

A Different Way Than Violence and Death?

All of us are concerned about the rise of violence in our closely connected world.   No longer can we disconnect the United States from the violence across the world—-but even if we could, we would still have an extremely large amount of violence to deal with in our own country.

I’m not going to catalog all that is going on, as I know that you are aware of it.  Violence and death in the Middle East and Africa, especially  at the hands of ISIS and other extremists groups, that is now extending to attacks on the U.S. by our own citizens who have been trained by these groups.   The usual practice of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” has been extended to killing as many innocent people as possible in retribution for suspected wrongs or for not being the right religion.  Terrorism is a world-wide threat.

In our own country (the U.S.) there is increasing violence and death at each other’s hands.  We are a gun culture and guns, due to the political influence of the NRA (National Rifle Association) are proliferating at an alarming rate.   Kansas, for example just passed a law allowing open carry and also concealed carry without any training and guns are  allowed in most public buildings and  everywhere not posted.

We live in a country where civilian paramilitary groups with a paranoid fear of the federal government are stockpiling rations and weapons because they fear, rightly or wrongly, that their own government is going to attack them.  Most of us live in an urban environment where life is increasingly cheap—there are shootings almost every day in Wichita, KS where I live.   People do not trust law enforcement and law enforcement does not trust people and the result is that people get shot by police and then riots occur over the shootings and more lives are lost.   Drunken arguments that used to be solved by fist-fights too often are now solved by the use of a gun.

People have tried for centuries to bring about peace by the sword, by the gun, by the missile, and by the threat of nuclear bombs—-and still there is no peace.   When will we learn that peace that is enforced by armed might  is not peace?  Force always involves fear and retribution and thus does not last.

There is an alternate way to peace that we have seldom tried.   It is the way that a person called Jesus of Nazareth taught and lived over 2000 years ago.   It is a peace not kept by the power of armed might  and violence,  but based on the power of  love and non-violence that Jesus taught and lived.   Somehow most of the Western world, while calling themselves his followers,  have missed his main message of peace.

A few have glimpsed the power of this way of non-violence and love.   Mahatma Ghandi was one—-Martin Luther King was another.   Both achieved their aims by this method and not by armed might.   Both, I might add, like Jesus, were  resisted by the domination systems of their day, and were killed eventually by those who felt threatened by them.   But both secured a lasting change for the better for millions of people by using the power of love and non-violence.

When are we going to stop killing each other and try this way of love and non-violence?    This is the only way to true peace.    We have yet to try it in our relationship with others, and on a national or international scale.

Be the Change!!

 

There is something scary about “change” for most people!     We are creatures of habit more than we like to admit, and if change comes about in our lives we tend to resist it, and we often fear it.    Even though the current situation, (the status quo) may be painful to us—-at least we know where we are, what to expect, and how to cope with the pain the situation causes,  because we’ve been living with it—-and therefore we are very suspicious of any “change for the better” that might be suggested.   We say, what if it only makes things worse?

We see this fear of change in the lives of women who are abused by their husbands or significant others.  For example, in the  NFL Ray Rice case, where the woman who was knocked out cold by Rice in an elevator and dragged out by her feet, went ahead and married him.   Eventually, I predict,  she will either die at his hands  or have to find some way get away from her now husband—-because he is not going to change and she will be unable to change him.   And yet she remains with Rice.    I suspect either fear of Rice or fear of change is the reason, although there is no way for me to know for sure.

In our churches we see fear of change as one of the  major reasons that attendance  is dropping and churches are closing.    Many churches have actually closed rather than change the way they go about doing church  that speaks to the needs for involvement in the community and electronic social media practices of a new generation of Millenials.   In essence,  the closing churches choose to  die rather than change!

It’s strange that churches bearing the name of Jesus should fear change, as one of the greatest advocates for change was Jesus of Nazareth whom they claim to follow.  Richard Rohr, in his Good News According to the Gospel of Luke:  Spiritual Reflections. sees Jesus as a revolutionary and an advocate for radical change.  He says the blatant contradiction between the message and actions of the church and Jesus’ message and actions  are what is holding the church back here and around the world:

We preach a self-absorbed gospel of piety and religiosity, not a lifestyle gospel.   Luke (in his gospel)  is preaching a lifestyle gospel, not a Sunday-church thing at all.   Luke is talking about living the gospel seven days a week.   His gospel is so radical that if you truly believed its message (of Jesus) it would call into question all the assumptions you currently hold about the way you live, how you  use time, whom you relate to, how you marry, how much money you have.   Everything you think and do would be called into question and viewed in a new way, because Jesus is Lord and Jesus is Love.”

Marcus Borg, in his book Jesus, Uncovering the life, teachings, and relevance of a religious revolutionary  also portrays Jesus of Nazareth as a revolutionary who was non-violently seeking to overthrow the  economic, social, political and religious domination system of the Roman world during his time.  Jesus did this on behalf of the poor, the sick, the people at the bottom of the social scale.  He challenged the religious domination of the priestly-temple system of Judaism to change.   Jesus’ teaching that God is a God of love and forgiveness were direct challenges to the need for a temple and sacrifices and priests as there was no longer a need for priests and sacrifices and the temple to relate to God and receive God’s love and forgiveness.   Human beings can relate directly to the God of Love that Jesus proclaimed, so they don’t need a priest and sacrifices to be forgiven.   Revolutionary!!   Jesus  turned the “pecking order” of his society on its head with his teaching that “the greatest among you will be the servant of all”. These are the major   reasons he was killed by the Romans at the insistence of the Jewish religious establishment.       Change is dangerous, as well as being scary if you are living the change—i.e. “Being the Change” as Jesus was doing.  Those in power do not yield easily if the change means the loss of their power.   Jesus didn’t just advocate systemic change—-his life and his teachings mirrored that systemic change. He described and lived his  life as it would be lived in the Kingdom of God that he proclaimed was here in the world.  It  was a revolutionary change from the status quo.   Jesus was “Being the Change“!!

One of favorite quotations is from the wisdom of  Ghandi, the Indian leader for the independence of India from Great Britain.  Ghandi says:  BE THE CHANGE.!!

Ghandi, in his wisdom,  is saying that it’s not enough for us to speak for change—-No!   Our message and our actions must be the same.    In order to bring about change you and I must change.    Change is not something that happens because people talk about it, debate it, fear it, advocate it or demand it—-change comes about when people live the change!  

What do you think needs to change in our society today?  What do you think needs to change in our churches?   Are you just “talking” about it or are you willing to “be the change”?    The change won’t happen unless we are willing to “Be the Change”!!