Love – The Thing That Scares Us Most
I have been thinking lately quite a bit about love. Every morning when I go to get the milk for my coffee I am reminded of love again and again because I have this magnet with St Ignatius of Loyola’s famous quotation: Love consists in sharing what one has and what one is with those one loves. Love ought to show itself more in deeds than in words.
This is a powerful message that makes as much sense today as it did when St Ignatius said it nearly 500 years ago. It is a message that I try and live out in my daily life, and sometimes it is a challenge and sometimes it is very easy.
The love I have been pondering over these past few weeks is twofold. The first is the classic one; I have fallen, or at least I think I have, for someone who has made his way into my life.
As I was prepping for this article, I found in my saved posts on Instagram something that Father General Arrupe, SJ once said, ‘fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything’.
The first and second part are fairly easy. It is the third part that scares us because it requires us to let go and trust that the emotions are guiding us properly and securely. It scares us because we become vulnerable and naked to the powers of the world around us.
Society teaches us to build walls around us to protect ourselves, but what we need to do is let in some vulnerability, tear down the walls and build bridges so that we can fall and stay in love.
The second type of love is much more academic, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting or scary! Toward the end of writing my undergraduate thesis, my advisor said to me, ‘Luke, this paper is not what Charles Taylor and Richard John Neuhaus say about love!’ That stuck with me, and I now find myself looking more into a philosophy of love because love guides and moves us.
Love shapes our lives in ways we cannot fully comprehend. Love scares us. And because it scares us, we often choose to quash it and remove ourselves from the situation in order to protect ourselves.
But, we are called to love, to love authentically, and to found a more just society wherein individuals are free to carry on with their lives, but wherein the principles founding our society our ones that love informs and grounds.
We live in a multicultural, pluralist society that is Judaeo-Christian in origin and embraces liberal projects. To further those projects, we must reintroduce love in order to create a more inclusive, just, and forward thinking society.
We live currently in a world where we seem to be quashing love more than living it. Hate and fear are on the rise; the light that seemed to be in ascendance around the world a few years ago is dimming.
The winds have changed against hope and love, but ‘let us not tire of preaching love. It is the force that will overcome the world’ as Oscar Romero once said. Love will triumph and conquer hate.
To do so, we need to recommit ourselves to love and to not be afraid of it, in our society and in our personal lives. It is good to be scared sometimes, especially by something as awesome as love.
Some of the steps toward recentering on love are simple and others of course are more complex. The current government, although it has been slow on some accounts, has taken some important steps toward bringing love back into the fold.
The Canada Child Benefit, which has raised more than 300 000 children out of poverty, in addition to committing to a process of reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous peoples are both examples of bringing love back into policy.
It is true that more can be done on both files, but they are the beginnings of creating a more inclusive, just, and forward thinking society.
As I am writing this in June, I am reminded that thirteen years ago this July, Canada took a big step forward in building a more inclusive, just, and forward thinking society when the government said that love is love.
Yet, as we look to the south of the 49th parallel, we still see so much hate, so much so that it prevents someone from baking a cake. Christ told us to love one another and by loving one another, people would know us as Christians.
If we cannot show love to one another, and this baker claims to be a fundamentalist Christian, how can we build a society where we sow the seeds of love? We should be celebrating love!
The Church may not approve of same-sex marriage, fine, but we, as Christians, should still rejoice that people are choosing love over hate.
We also need to remember that Christ calls us to love the downtrodden, the dispossessed, the refugee, the hungry, the sick, and all those whom society marginalises. To all these people, Christ calls us to show love and mercy.
That can be a scary thought, but it comes back to what Pedro Arrupe said. Christ here calls us to ‘fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything’. The love here is love for the world, for humanity because it is what will decide everything and make us a stronger country and society.
Let’s recentre our society on love and embrace this awesome calling.