I contemplated asking “what is love?” and then clicking the publish button on the right. We likely all have a personal definition of love, a working definition of it. I’m sure there are some very general aspects of the definition that we’ll all share, but maybe there are some components that would differ. I’m not interested in the differences right now, I’m interested in the similarities. What are the similarities among individual definitions of love? Positive regard towards another? Warm feelings? An intimate bond? Service and charity? Is love a feeling, a thought, or a motivation? All three? More?

The Beatles told us love is all we need. Personally I think food and water are pretty helpful and classify as needs, but love is really good too. In the New Testament Jesus Christ puts love as the prime factor for the greatest commandments: 1) love God 2) love your neighbor as yourself. There’s no question that love (or an immature counterfeit of it) dominates popular culture music, movies and books. Love is everywhere, and love is powerful. What do you think?

Is it strange to bring up the terrorist attack and subsequent mayhem of last week in a post called Love? 

Following the U.S. military operation that resulted in the death of bin Laden, I wrote a post for my old blog titled “Death of a Terrorist, Death of a Fellow Human Being.” I’m reminded of that this week. Yes, the actors in terror attacks are terrorists, but aren’t they people as well? Do their acts cause them to give that up? Their acts cause them to lose basic rights to freedom, as they have proven they have little to no regard for other people, so as a society we restrict them in the name of public safety. That’s what we have to do. That’s the consequence for such actions. The terrorists make a choice and we follow through with the consequence. So what about love?

Love is forgiveness. We don’t have to condone an activity to forgive the perpetrator of it. If we did then we’d probably never forgive a lot of things and instead dwell on them while allowing rage to build up within our hearts. That’s not healthy, ask Bruce Banner. The question I need to ask this week is this: can I forgive the Tsarnaev brothers and any co-conspirators that may have been involved? If I will lay any claim to being a Christian then the answer is yes. At least, the answer of whether or not I should forgive them is yes, the personal question of can I may be different, but there is no doubt that I should forgive them.

Love demands forgiveness. Forgiveness does not demand acceptance or approval. I do not approve of terrorism. I do not approve of murder. I do approve of love and forgiveness. Without forgiveness I think we turn into the things or the people that have offended us. By all means we enact justice, according to established laws, for the surviving participants in the marathon bombing, and all other terrorists we apprehend, but let’s please retain our love and ability to forgive. Even, and especially, when the guilty party does not plead for it.

About paulbrodie

I am a writer and a musician. My education is in psychology with emphasis in industrial/organizational psychology. My work experience has been primarily with electronic document management. Academically and intellectually I am interested in criminology and sociology. I am married to my favorite person in the world and we have one daughter.
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2 Responses to Love

  1. dinadove says:

    WOW Paul. You are a deep thinker. I really like that. You give us something we can sink our teeth into. You are right. We have to forgive. And we also, by following the commandment, are to love ourselves, our neighbor and first God. And, I think, in loving all, we also have to allow people to experience the consequences of the choices they make. Not with hatred, but with the thought that it is the way we learn. And, even people who do harm to others and are not caught, I am sure that God will continue to handle it. People who hurt others do suffer and are suffering a deep torment, somewhere, somehow I know this. When you are happy and loving, you do not seek to harm others. Only God really knows what is being worked out with those souls. I have a small alteration to a common Bible verse, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do to themselves when they seek to harm another.” Look at those who sent Jesus to be crucified. They did not win, in the end. What we do always comes back to us. If people really believed that with all their heart, then the world would be different. Just my thoughts.

    • paulbrodie says:

      I like your thoughts, thank you for sharing them. Consequences of actions are inescapable. I know God will handle them appropriately. I once took a college course on criminal corrections. Of the twenty or so students there I was the only one that didn’t fully support capital punishment. It was an interesting class discussion when the professor asked each of us our stance. I viewed the professor as a personal mentor and he knew my comfort level in being the odd man out so I wasn’t on the spot or anything.

      For me I worry about motivations in carrying out what we see as the consequences for actions, in some cases. If we do it out of love then I support it, but how often do we carry out criminal corrections, or capital punishment, in the name of love, with it actually being the case? That’s what I thought of when you said that we need to allow people to face their consequences, but not with hate, with the intent that they can learn. Some people may be beyond learning, and that’s a different story. But over all I truly believe that if all of our actions are motivated by love it will be best for everyone.

      Talking about loving perpetrators of terrorist acts doesn’t mean we apologize them for being in their way, we still hold them accountable before law, I just hope we don’t have some inward glee at watching them suffer, perhaps in the same way they felt glee when carrying out the act in the first place.

      Thanks for getting a discussion going on this one!

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