There is a thing stronger than death… more powerful and compelling.
Unlike death it is not inevitable.
Love‘s the thing.
I am a coward… a fearful coward, because I fear my own ability to choose to ‘not love’.
It is always an option -TO NOT-LOVE. It is everpresent, and it is the death beyond death, the rejection of all that we are and are called to, the negation of everything that is worth anything, the sickening inhuman unbeing that begins with ignorance or fear, slides into apathy or anger, and finally unmakes the very heart of a human being… to NOT-LOVE.
And it is so easy.To NOT-LOVE
It’s as easy as ignoring the glance of the stranger because we’re in a hurry, it’s as easy as snapping at a family member because we’re tired, or not bothering to give back the thing we’ve borrowed because we don’t think it’ll be missed for a while.
It’s even easier when pressures increase, when we are told to tighten our belts -and so rather than cut back on treats we choose something less noticeable and reduce our charitable giving; when we get a more pleasurable offer for our time and so decide to prioritise it over the thing that is good for others but less fun; or when our friends tell us it’s okay to hate so-and-so because they did such-and-such… Oh how we love that, a vehicle for our NOT-LOVE!
Give us a direction for our NOT-LOVE, give us a ’cause’ for it, and we’re away like a greyhound on speed, and twice as many teeth.
NOT-LOVE is EASY… it’s tempting and fast and addictive… Often we are told the lie that it is ‘natural’ to not love, and are encouraged into it -to compete against others to fulfill our needs to their cost; to abandon the old: clothes, lovers, people, in favour for the new… until the new become the old, and we tell ourselves it’s time to move on again.
We convince ourselves (because LOVE is HARD) that ‘NOT-LOVE’ is actually -an ‘easy-going attitude’ (to other people’s problems, to our responsibilities); or that it’s ‘impartiality’ -not taking sides (when the weak or oppressed need support or defence, when using our voice could be costly, but could make all the difference); we even convince ourselves that ‘NOT-LOVE’ is ‘reason’, cool rationality… (which leads to the treatment of people in the same ways as utensils, and which reduces people from sacred to statistic… )
But NOT-LOVE is death, it’s slow, numbing, go-with-the-flow, death.
When I was a child, I lived in an old house, very old, and some of the doorhandles were very stiff. High up on the door, stiff, uncomfortable, hardly user-friendly, particularly for a child’s grip: The kind of cold metal kind that are immovable for an age as one heaves on them, and then jerk back suddenly, grazing one’s knuckles… the blood-toll paid for passing from hall to kitchen or kitchen to garden…
But that would hardly discourage me from going out to play, or from responding to the call of my parent’s voice from the other room would it! There would be no way that I’d stand behind the closed door and say, ‘you know, I don’t think I’ll go through today -I’m not really a door-sort-of-person, and I’m not that bothered about what’s going on on the other side -if it were any of my business, then this door wouldn’t be in the way’
That is a little how it is with choices of love. Because it is always a choice to love if you are going to really love -it means some degree of cost, of commitment, of effort… but really no more than one might expect of a decision worth making. The way to love does not lie endlessly open to us, with our only requirement to drift through without being distracted by the ‘temptations’ that beset us… NO, the way to love lies always before us, ready to grasp and put some effort into, ready to move through with a bit of vim and vigour, and often a lot of courage and sometimes, more often than we might expect, some real hurt.
The alternative -NOT-LOVE, also lies always before us. It is the door unopened.