We live in a world where the need to be right is so strong, it supersedes unconditional love and acceptance. We have the power to change this trend if we can learn that love conquers all. Regardless of our politics, religion, upbringing or culture, we can embrace the one thing we all have in common. Love.
I remember being in a Sunday school class during the end of the cold war and the teacher brought up a very important point that changed my way of thinking. At the time, we were all in crippling fear that the Russians would drop the bomb. She said, "Russian families are no different that we are. Husbands love their wives. Wives love their husbands. Husbands and wives love their children and want the best for them."
I have not forgotten that lesson and it continues to teach me that even though I may disagree with the way a person thinks, I need to love them as a child of the God I believe in.
This is the love we need to teach our families, particularly our children. To love everyone and to make love and family the driving force in all their decisions.
Christ taught us to love one another as he loves us. Love everyone. Here are some teachings of different religions regarding loving one another:
The Bahai's are taught to love regardless of religion or race and that they should also love their enemies. They believe that loving God purifies the human heart and makes it capable of such love.
Buddhists break love down into different types. Karuna means having compassion and mercy and a desire to reduce the suffering of others. To have this quality is necessary in order to achieve enlightenment. Advesa and metta are types of benevolent love. It is unconditional and requires an unselfish type of interest in the welfare of others.
The New Testament also gives us different types of love. Agape is a selfish, unconditional charitable love, rather parental in nature. Philia is brotherly love.
The Quran teaches that Allah (God) loves those who do good to others, keep themselves pure and clean, are righteous and try to act rightly.
In Hinduism, prema or prem is an elevated love. They consider it a sacrament and it teaches them to give up selfishness and to not expect anything in return for kindness.
In Judaism, ahava is the term for both love of one another and love of God. Chen is grace, good will and kindness.
The term love means love for God and his creation, including all humans.
They believe in "true love" which means to seek out the best for others and the elevation of human life in all dimensions. Living for others without a thought of that love being returned.
When we look around, we can see evidence of this altruistic love in most human beings. Some require more work than others, but love is universal. Even those who are atheistic, agnostic, wicken or unlabeled generally believe in unconditional love, unity and tolerance. As with the Russians, they love their families and want the best for humankind in general.
While there are those who misuse their religion to do great harm in the name of their God, they are the minority and generally misrepresent what their faith embraces. For those who believe in any of the major religions above, we know they are the exception to the rule. Our work is cut out for us, but we must find it within our hearts to love one another, transcend our differences and bring about peace.
This same sort of unconditional love and transcendence can and should be put into place in all aspects of our lives, not just religion.
Vegans need to love and accept carnivores. Democrats need to love and accept Republicans. Teenagers need to love and accept their parents. New Englanders need to love and accept Southerners. Dog lovers need to love and accept cat people. You get the idea. We just need to put aside our differences and love.
If we can get this idea through to our children, both in teaching and by example, they will become the generation to love and accept the diversity in the world and will be able to transcend differences. This is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.