Whether they deserve it or not

Posted: 2011/01/30 in Thinking Tools, Words
Tags: , , , , ,

Just to keep things in perspective, I don’t have real enemies, compared to some of you. So if your reaction to my definition of love, “whether they deserve it or not,” is “Yeah, right!” I don’t blame you.

Here’s a short list of who I find hard to love:

  • Competitive, Type-A (I know what “A” stands for and it’s not “Assertive”) bully jerks
  • The greedy, short-sighted people who stole my future, at least in this life
  • Liars—the kind who can look me straight in the eye and lie to me
  • People who abuse people—especially women and children—and who abuse animals

I could go on, but it’s not healthy. And I could name names, but that’s both libelous and potentially unsafe (and therefore not loving). But if I never name names, under any circumstances, that makes me a coward and therefore not deserving of love myself.

Now, you might say, “People like that are despicable. They don’t deserve love, they deserve justice.” You’re right.But I choose to love them or, failing that, to cultivate an attitude of love towards them. It’s in their best interest to change—to stop doing what’s become a habit of life, and get help with that, so loving them doesn’t mean being satisfied with who they are.

Loving them does not mean not setting boundaries when dealing with them, or not keeping my distance. It means seeking what they need, not what they want. It means not seeking to bring them down for its own sake, or for the sake of getting even. Does it mean taking back what they took? Possibly? I can take back my confidence from the bully, and I can take back the truth from the liar. Maybe I can help others take back their confidence and safety and freedom from the abuser. And I can do these things without ceasing to love them. (My future—well, I think that’s pretty much gone).

There’s something that’s hard to love about everybody. I’m sure there are things that are hard to love about me. That’s about both people, not just about the beloved or the hated. Think about it. Aren’t there some people that you can’t stand but that others seem to be just fine with?

So if I choose not to love somebody, it means

  • Drawing an arbitrary line between “deserving” and “undeserving,” and
  • Putting some of my stuff onto them.

If I mete out love based on how deserving a person is, that means

  • Constantly keeping score, and
  • Putting some of my stuff, including how it’s changing, maybe just because of what I ate, onto them.

Keeping score gets complicated and just puts me in the wrong frame of mind. And my stuff is, well, my stuff, not theirs.

So I’ve chosen to just try to love them all. I fail in small ways all the time, but then my challenges so far are small. Some day I will probably fail in a big way. And then I will need to remember to love myself.

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