by Jessica Ann Gallucci Bradley on Tuesday, July 26, 2011 at 2:45am
The question then must become, what shall my own personal manifesto be? Shall I too stand upon my rooftop shouting at the top of my lungs all the reasons we have to be afraid or cry in the night about how unfair life has been since “they” changed everything? No. Mahatma Gandhi said, “We must be the change we want to see in the world,” and I think those of us who value life and dignity have been much too silent lately.
Though I am a Catholic, I find the name of Jesus is too often maligned, slandered and used to advance the agenda’s of those who have heard is name but apparently never truly touched Him. So I choose not to invoke His name. I choose rather to be about love. That is what my manifesto shall be about. Not the easy love, the love of family, friendship and longtime bond but rather love that is hard, love that begs you to be uncomfortable, that begs you to be fearless in the face of what you do not know, to touch the unknown and hold it close.
“We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God´s compassionate love for others. “
~ St. Clare of Assisi
One cannot turn on the news these days and not help but wonder how we have gotten here. Violence, destruction and hatred don’t surprise or disenchant anymore they simply make us shake our heads and move onto the next story. Our own problems seem so great that the plight of others is given no more than brief nod as we turn back in weary apathy to our own issues. We cannot take on any more problems we will say in our head we have too many of our own. So world-weary are we that humanity itself is crying in pain and we cannot hear it. We are not losing ourselves. We have lost.
“We cannot despair of humanity, since we ourselves are human beings.”
It is time to be radical! It is time to break with the current convention of looking for what can be gained and look to what can be given away. It won’t be easy. It is never easy to leave the comfort of what we know to seek out that which is other, but leave it we must. We must strain to move beyond blame and move into acceptance. We are all each other, we all bleed, we all suffer, we all die and we have within us a tremendous capacity to love. We must come to love each other, not a fleeting love but a radical abiding love. Love that does not seek or question, love that instead reaches out with open hands to grasp the face of those who seem beyond our understanding; forever we have been told to love the poor, the lonely, even our enemies but do we love what we don’t know and don’t understand?
I am Christian; do I love Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists? I am an American do I love Afghanis, Iranians, Somalis, Canadians, Mexicans? I know these; I have met them perhaps they are easy to love. I am a Catholic; do I love fundamentalist Christians, even though I don’t understand them, do I love atheists even though some think I am silly and brainwashed? Do I love them or am I afraid of them and what their way of life says about mine?
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fear breeds hatred. Hatred allows us to look at a fellow human being and see a threat instead of a kindred. Fear allows us to be violent, even if only in our thoughts, it allows us to think of ourselves as right and others as wrong; it allows us to see only black and white in a world of vibrant, beautiful color. It allows us to make others subject rather than be subject, rather than be humble. It makes us blind to the giftedness of that which is not us, that which is other, that which is unknown.
It is time to be about the true Other’s work. It is time to get busy doing the work of the Divine; whatever you call that Divine; G-d, Allah, Yahweh, the Universe it doesn’t matter. It is time we start to make caring for each other our credo, loving each other our call to arms. It is a radical love that is required of us, love that searches out the beating heart within the other that looks just like the heart beating with me. It is a love that has no enemy, not in thought, word or deed. It is the purest form of love because it is a love that begs nothing in return, a love that is completely other centered. A love that sees not nationality, border, class or creed rather only the spark of humanness that runs through all of us.
In the end I believe that a love such as this is the only thing that will save us from ourselves, for truly we have all become our own worst enemy. We must encourage, we must inspire, we must breathe hope in our communities, big and small…we must be LOVE. This is the one and only manifesto we need ever make again. I can only pray that someday we find a way to achieve this.
“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.