La parabola del Buon Samaritano Messina Chiesa della Medaglia Miracolosa Casa di Ospitalità Collereale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For two days I have sat at my computer and stared at this post, the cursor blinking on the screen. I’ve wanted to publish it because I believe in what it says. I believe other people should hear it. But I’ve paused because it is also deeply personal.
In the end, I’ve decided that I must post this. I hope you will bear with me. What I have to say has nothing to do with literature or writing, but it has everything to do with life.
To be loved you must love.
This world scares me. There is outright hate and terrorism committed against other people just for being different. Beyond that there is a greater lack of compassion toward our fellow human beings. To me, the last is more terrifying than the outright hate because it is this lack of compassion that leaves people marginalized on the edges of society. Indifference is one of the cruelest acts we can portray on others.
As a child I had a lot of love for people. I think most children do until they’re taught to hate by their parents, their peers, or their religion. I grew up with conservative relatives. I remember being introduced to Fire and Brimstone Christianity at a young age. Sitting there on that hard wood pew, I was convinced the red faced preacher up in the pulpit was going to hang some poor sinner in the back of the church. I soon developed the attitude that if nothing I could ever do was good enough for God then why should I even try?
Luckily, that attitude never took a deep rooted hold. I didn’t go to church often, and when I did I spent more time staring at a huge painting of Jesus on the back wall and trying to determine what lay beyond the next hill. I’ve always had a great imagination and it’s served me well.
I was one of those difficult children. I thought too much and had my own opinions which I voiced loudly. I was never able to accept something just because I was told. In retrospect, I feel sorry for my poor mother. She put up with a hell of a lot from me, and despite the fact we still stand at polar ends, I hope she can one day be proud of the person I’m becoming. That’s right, becoming. I hope I never stop becoming, because to stop becoming is to stop growing, and when you don’t grow you die.
Now to the point of this little post.
Lately I’ve been lamenting the fact that I’ve been lonely. I’m convinced that loneliness, not being alone, but loneliness is one of the worst feelings a person can experience. I think to myself, what has happened? I used to have a real life with friends and hobbies and fun. Then it all changed.
To be loved you must love.
Everyone has several defining moments in their life. I can name three off the top of my head. But the one I think has been the most defining, at least of late, occurred while I was working on my degree. The events that took place then changed my life, and not in a good way.
It wasn’t the actions of others that changed me, but my reactions to what happened. No one can change you unless you let them.
I was deeply hurt by what happened, and as a consequence I grew bitter and started shutting down. My view of the people around me grew jaded, hard. I pushed people away until I didn’t have anybody left. I looked around, and instead of having compassion for people, I categorized them all as idiots. My favorite quip whenever I saw something I considered idiotic was, “Bell curve.”
In short, I became a bastard.
I grew lonelier, and farther away from humanity. I lost how to connect with others, grew awkward and socially inept because I forgot one simple thing. Everyone deserves respect and compassion. I had let myself forget how to love, how to care for others, all because I was hurting.
My move to St. Louis has been a lot of things. It was the start of a new chapter, a leaving behind of the old and the embarkation of a new and exciting career. But it was also a journey to find myself, to stop reacting, to stop living as others dictated I must and become my own person.
It’s a hell of a ride. I’ve discovered a lot, some I didn’t want to discover, or didn’t want to deal with, but when you’re looking at yourself, if you are going to be authentic, then you must be truthful. By far, the most important thing I’ve rediscovered is that kernel of light inside, that kernel of humanity that lets me see other people not as dangers, or idiots, or strangers, but as people who deserve love and compassion because they are human beings, not just in theory, but in practice. I like to think that part of this healing has occurred because of the wonderful people I’ve met here. They’ve helped remind me that kindness still exists. Hopefully, I can nurture this kernel to grow, and in doing so regain my own strength. Maybe I can stop being the victim and be the Samaritan once again.
Throughout this post I’ve said that to be loved you must love, and it’s true. But it’s also true that the love of others can open up the heart of other people.
Love teaches love.