I am convinced we are wired to love and care for each other. In my heart of hearts, in my spirit, my soul, my very essence, I KNOW it. When I really tune into myself, my body literally vibrates with this truth; I can feel it on a cellular level.
The teachings of the world’s great religions all point to this as a fundamental truth and guiding principle. They don’t note exceptions for gender, race, nationality, religion, education, employment, income, etc. They just tell us to practice loving kindness in all that we do. It’s so simple! So why do we find it SO hard?
Concerned & Confused
If you’re anything like me, you spend considerable time trying to understand human behavior. You watch world events unfold and you worry…a lot. Political corruption, corporate greed, fear, selfishness, and misunderstanding are of grave concern to you. You cringe at the way we speak to each other, especially as we interact online. And you wonder how we wandered so far off track because you see very clearly that love isn’t leading us.
You hear constant talk of division, and every time you turn on the news or check Facebook, you see evidence of it. We seem polarized. We:
- believe #FamiliesBelongTogether or that we must #BuildThatWall.
- #TakeAKnee for racial justice, or declare #IStand out of respect for flag and country.
- demand changes to support #sustainability and environmental justice, or we mockingly declare that #ClimateChange is a hoax.
- firmly and lovingly proclaim that #BlackLivesMatter, or we recoil, believing (mistakenly) that this mantra implies that other lives don’t matter and react with #AllLivesMatter or #BlueLivesMatter.
If you’re at all like me, you watch all of this with concern for the future. You wonder how humanity can survive like this and if leading with love is really possible or just a dream. You pray for the earth, for all living things, for humanity, for your children and grandchildren. And you try to influence change and model love as much as possible.
But Then It Happens
Yesterday I was visiting Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme, Connecticut with my little guy when I was completely taken by surprise. As we sat mid-way down the half-mile stretch of beach playing with his beloved Paw Patrol toys and chatting away, a park ranger came through.
“Missing child, age 8. Girl with long blond hair wearing a lavender and blue bathing suit. Her name is Christina.”
It’s every parent’s worst fear. And what I saw next truly took my breath away.
As I mentally processed what was happening, I looked south, saw a long line of people – at least 30 – searching the water. She was a stranger to them. And they almost certainly were strangers to each other. They didn’t know each other’s political views, religious beliefs, criminal history, citizenship or immigration status…they knew nothing of each other. Yet in this moment of crisis, they didn’t hesitate to literally join hands and wade into cold New England water together to search for a missing child.
Sometimes we are reminded of #humanity’s #kindness & #generosity in the most unexpected ways. 🌀 A little girl went missing at Rocky Neck State Park & as soon as the ranger started announcing it, a line organized & people combed the water for her. 🌀 Thank God, she had just wandered away & was found walking the beach alone further down. Spontaneous applause. Shared joy among perfect strangers. A collective sigh of relief. 🌀 Some days I think our fear, selfishness & resistance to change is going to be the end of us. And some days I feel #hopeful. 🌀 Today is a hopeful day. #ThankYou to all the kind-hearted, loving beings who jumped in the water to help a little girl & her family today. #Blessings! 💙🌊💙 #BeTheChange #LoveYourNeighbor #ThankYou #Blessings #Beach #Ocean #LongIslandSound #LifeWithKids #RockyNeck #AwakeningAuthenticity #ShineYourLight
It took my breath away because of the gravity of the situation and the potential outcome. Was I watching a tragedy unfold?
It took my breath away because beach-goers sacrificed their fun in the sun for something bigger. They spontaneously organized to help a child, a park ranger, and a desperate family.
It took my breath away because in that moment, LOVE guided a diverse group of people to unite for others in need. In that moment shared humanity and the life of a little girl was all that mattered.
It took my breath away…because it showed me that it isn’t a pipe dream. We CAN transcend our personal differences to unite for good. For love.
In the hours since, I’ve thought about what I saw almost obsessively. It showed me what we are capable of and restored my faith. There is hope for humanity.
But I keep wondering, “what would it take for us to show this kind of empathy, love, and courage all the time?”
How do we evolve to a point where this is our norm rather than an anomaly? What is it that frees us to express love in a crisis, but prevents us from making the same choice in less dramatic circumstances? How do we take this love and concern we all felt for Christina and extend it to include a child who is food insecure or homeless? Can we extend it to adults and to people who are different than us? What are we so afraid of? It is fear that holds us back, isn’t it?
Happily, BLESSEDLY, young Christina was found walking the beach. She had, as curious children often do, just wandered away from her group and was found on the other end of the beach, none the worse for wear.
When she was located and the ranger called off the search, spontaneous applause broke out. Strangers up and down the beach shared an instant of glorious joy followed by a tremendous, refreshing wave of relief. And in that brief moment, we were all united in love and concern. Though we didn’t know one another, we were community. We belonged to each other, and maybe (just maybe) we remembered that.
Wired to Love
We ARE wired to love and care for each other, dear friends. I know it. I felt it on that beach yesterday, and I feel certain that others did too.
So how do we create communities in which this is just how we live? How do we cultivate a culture of compassion and selflessness?
When I speak about authenticity here, THIS is what I mean. It’s about knowing that part of yourself that IS love, and living from that place as much as possible while owning the sense of vulnerability that goes with it. It’s loving – yourself and others – harder and with greater consistency. It’s abandoning fear, and barriers to love, while maintaining healthy boundaries.
We’re wired to love, and the fact that we so often resist that deprives us of joy and connection. Maybe in a crisis we simply don’t have the time to rationalize our way out of loving? Or maybe the urgency of the situation exposes our own vulnerability thereby reducing our resistance? Perhaps a primitive drive to protect a child in distress overrides all else?
I don’t know what stands in our way. But I know that when I honor the fact that I’m wired to love, I feel more joy, connection, optimism and hope. When I act from love, I want to keep acting from love, because of how it feels – both for me and for the recipient of my loving thoughts and actions. Love begets love. It grows and expands. And maybe if we – you and me – start mindfully choosing loving thoughts, words, and actions…MAYBE in time love will overcome and become the force that drives us, once and for all.
It’s worth a try, isn’t it?
Want to Explore Further?
I’m fascinated by world religions and how much they have in common. I wish this was part of our high school curriculums because it’s so VERY enlightening! If you would like to read a bit more, try these links.
And these, too.