The more I observe, the more I realise that despite everyone talking about love, there's not that much consensus on what it actually is and how we do it.
There's a lot of commercial and media hype around it of course - always has been. But that's just about the "feeling", sex etc. We all kinda know that (hopefully).
When we sit down and have deeper conversations (or full on abuse sessions on Facebook, lol) it seems that all is ok until we have to apply it to real life. That's where the shit hits the fan so to speak.
So where do we start?
I guess the "golden rule" - Treat everyone as you want to be treated - is the most universal concept of love that every religion holds central (ignoring the fact that they also have many ways to get around it). It's a wonderful truth that we can't ignore, it hits at the heart of our humanity. Think about how you want to be treated in any given situation, and simply reverse the roles. It's easy to comprehend, profound in its impact, and is a blow to our ego in it's worst moments. This makes it far harder than we often care to admit.
Christianity has it nicely nailed in the (apparent) writings of Paul:
1 Cor 13: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
.....faith, hope, love, but the greatest of these is love.
We read this and get to about verse 5 and think cool yeah, I got that.. but then there's "keeps no records of wrongs", "never dishonours", "always protects, trusts, etc". This all starts to look like a hippy new age conspiracy. We tend to think of it as a nice ideal but rather impractical.
But how do WE want to be treated in ANY situation? Say we do something really wrong, stuff up big time, even to the point of damaging someone else's life. We are stuck, possibly in shame or grief, or maybe in denial. Our lives have stopped at that point (to greater or lesser degrees) not knowing how to move on. We want to be forgiven, we need someone, somehow to say, "that was horrific! - now how can I help you clean up the mess and move forward?" And we want them to help us with no judgement, just to accept that we blew it big time and now need to do whatever we can to grow, to avoid it again, to make amends - whatever is needed.
Love says, "OK lets apply this both ways - to everyone around us". Living like this requires patience, kindness, lack of envy and pride, no dis-honouring and always cool headed, not keeping records of crap, protecting, trusting, hoping, preserving".
I get angry when I see harm caused to so many in so many ways. I get angry at the really stupid and "evil" things people do. I get angry at bigotry in any form. I lash out at people, wanting them to be punished for their actions. I get angry with me! We so easily let the emotion take over the need. Of course, we must not live in denial of the emotions, we have to work with them, through them, shaping them and growing out of them.
We are all victims and perpetrators throughout our lives in some way or another. The problem becomes living the love we need to overcome being either!