I know, today is February 15th – the day after Valentine’s Day. But I’m still going to talk about love.
See, love has no special date or color scheme. It does not have dinner reservations or flower deliveries. Love is the way we care for and protect each member of our community, regardless of differences.
Yesterday, on the day many celebrate love, many families lost people they love when seventeen students and teachers were killed by gunfire in a Florida high school. This is the 18th school shooting of 2018. My heart aches.
Yes, my heart aches for all of the families who must somehow come to terms with the fact that there will be no more silly message hearts, stale chocolates, or any other holiday traditions.
My heart also aches for the young man who was so filled with rage and anguish that he was compelled to end the lives of these students, teachers, and administrators. That he had no regard for his own life and well being.
No one comes out of tragic events unscathed, but there are many victims. If headlines are any indication, this young man was likely very disturbed. Some students account that he was bullied and did not fit in. Reporters called him a “weirdo” and an “outcast,” who’d lost both of his parents, his mother only weeks ago to the flu.
Let me be clear: I do not condone violence in any form.
Being bullied does not give someone the right to take someone’s life. Nor does being different give others the right to harass and mistreat another human being without consequence.
No place is perfect, no school district without its flaws. But we need to learn to be a Nation of laws lead by love. We must passionately and compassionately head to the polls, voting for policies and electing officials that truly have all of their constituents’ best interests at heart.
Love is in romantic songs and candlelit dinners, yes. But love is also in stricter gun control. Love is in comprehensive diversity and inclusion curriculum. Love is in increased access to mental healthcare for all.
Perhaps 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says it best:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
We are failing to love. We become impatient with those who are different, and which causes us to act unkindly. We envy others, so we boast about our own accomplishments and exploit their short-comings. We use social media to build ourselves up and we get angry when someone disagrees with our point of view. We screengrab disagreements with friends to share as proof that we are right, and rejoice when people on “the other side” experience a downfall or hardship. We delight ourselves in the suffering of “the bad guys.” We choose not to protect the children and the mentally ill, we brand those who are troubled as “hopeless,” and give up on them.
We fail to love.