Last week, I met up with an old friend. He has come upon some hard times lately, as so many of us have. His circumstances and some choices he’s made have caused him to be somewhat jaded. These days he is cementing his path toward becoming a curmudgeon and he’s barely into his fifties. He is fearful of this world, has been severely anxious over the years and now insulates himself instead with anger. In the process he has lost a little bit of hope in people and in the future.
He’s read my book and he’s listened to me on the radio. And when we last met, he told me that he has come to the conclusion that I am a naïve Pollyanna with a very loose grasp on reality. He said that if I’d pay more attention to the problems around me, then maybe I’d change my efforts from writing about “that stuff you write about, like love and kindness and the like” and put more energy thinking about how we can solve some of the more pressing world problems. He felt I needed a more logical approach to life, and become more serious in my pursuit of the complex issues that surround us. This, he said, would give my attitude and my writing a more practical tone, thus becoming something that everybody would find more useful.
After listening to him, I lifted my head slowly, looking at him from underneath my eyebrows, and I told him the following:
“I am no different than you. Throughout more years than I would like to admit I, too, have lead my life with anxiety, anger, worry. I have spent years of unnecessary and wasted time within a state of low grade fear and anger and for what? Did I gain any peace? Did this worry give me any insight? Certainly my anger has accomplished nothing except harm those that I have loved, and I will pay for those injuries for the rest of my life.
I live in the same world you do. I see the struggles and the frustration, the hunger and the poverty. But I do not wish to enhance the process by emphasizing the negative. I am not blind to the suffering in this world; I am dedicated to a profession that attempts to help people, one person at a time.
To be in a loving world, we must begin with our words, actions and intentions to each other. One person to one person. That is all there is. Individual to individual, heart to heart. We will only solve the challenges set before us if we replace anger with love, resentment with acceptance, and judgment with understanding.
It is through love, and only through love, that our difficulties recede. It must be the centerpiece of ourselves if we have any hope to change the lives of others, and the lives throughout the world. Benjamin Disraeli said it best. In speaking of Love, he said that it is “…the principle for our existence, and its only meaning and its only end.”
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