What if the worst human actions are nothing more than a defiant act of crying out “I am in pain, and I will not be ignored!”? What if all the worst atrocities were the result of powerful people who were desperate to be loved, but who also had no idea how to give or receive love, so the only recourse they felt they had was to lash out? What if all the greed, all the suffering, all the misery in the world simply all stem from the result of a desire to be loved?
What if we lived out our days, not looking at the world as “us” or “them” or “good” or “bad” – but only as “act of love” or “cry for love”? How would that change the world, or the way we live in it? How then would we respond to the “jerk” in the checkout line who is screaming at the cashier if we understood that his tantrum is a cry for love? How would we respond to that person who cuts us off in traffic and then cusses at us like we did something wrong? Would it be easier to be compassionate toward someone if we viewed them as crying out to be loved, rather than just viewing them as hateful, or hurtful, or bigots, or jerks, or evil?
What if we extended that idea from the everyday, mundane stuff, to the level of global-historical stuff? What if we look at someone like Hitler, and instead of simply seeing someone who has become the epitome of evil, we could see him as someone so desperate to be loved, and so unable to find a way to feel loved, he ended up using his considerable power and influence to kill millions of others – all because he never liked the way he felt about himself? And when we do not see Hitler in this way, is it because it is impossible, or simply because we refuse to see it because we do not want to see it? Because if we could see Hitler as someone crying out to be loved, then it would mean that instead of feeling revulsion, or hatred, or judgmental, or even seeking retaliation or revenge, the appropriate response to those desperate acts of crying out for love, would be to love. And we do not want to love Hitler. We do not even want to love the jerk in the checkout line.
But what if we could love them? What if we were willing to love them? Then they would no longer need to cry out for love because they would be loved, and all the evil of the world would be overcome by love – just as Saint Paul says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by doing good.” And maybe, just maybe, if they are loved, they could learn over time to love others.
This would mean that the most proactive step any of us could take at opposing the evil in the world, or ending violence, misery, greed, war, or anything else, would simply be to love! It means that not only can we end atrocities and evil with love, we can keep it from happening by loving first.
It is like someone who cannot hear, and who cannot speak, who is in so much pain, that she is screaming out, but is unaware that she is screaming out because she can neither hear herself, nor put it into words. We can be irritated by her screaming out; we can blame her for making a scene or disrupting our lives; we can decide that there is something fundamentally wrong with her, or call her crazy, or evil; or we can go to her and find out why she is screaming – we can love her and address the source of her pain, and by so doing, end the screaming.
Unfortunately, most of us are deaf to the screaming of others because the volume of our own screaming drowns out everyone else. What keeps people from loving is not that they are naturally opposed to it, but that people are so concerned with being loved, that they either forget to love, or do not notice how much others are desperately crying out for love as much as they are.
Because this, of course, also applies to us: we are often crying out to be loved. Whenever we lash out at others, or have a temper tantrum, or hurting someone or something, or simply behaving in a manner that is not expressing love, we are crying out to be loved.
This is not a justification for our acting out. We cannot say “It is okay for me to hurt you because I am just crying out to be loved.” But it is a diagnosis of why others are behaving the way they are – they are either acting out of love, or crying out for love. So it is also a prescription for a remedy – because if they are not acting out of love, then they are crying out for love, and you have the choice of either loving them, or adding to their pain.
Somebody has to love first, why not us? After all, Jesus tells us that the whole Bible is summed up with: “Love the Lord your God with every fiber of your being, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus also tells us that if we love Him, then we will keep His commandments; and all of His commandments are summed up with: “Love the Lord your God with every fiber of your being, and love your neighbor as yourself.”