Wednesday, November 30, 2016
This I Believe: Life is About Love
I would like to say that this philosophy class shook my world and changed my world view. I didn't quite know what to expect going into this class at the beginning of the semester. Would I like it? Would I expand my mind? Would I be enlightened on the meaning of life? Would my faith in God be questioned? Well, I liked class but not for the reasons I thought I would. I enjoyed thinking about different ways to live life and the benefits and disadvantages of each. I enjoyed hearing different views on personal beliefs, political views, and general philosophy. The class did not necessarily shatter my beliefs and worldview but more so strengthened my own views by forcing me to consider others and think about how the best way to live life. I have discovered that knowing one's own personal philosophy shapes the way one lives life. On the first day of class, I was asked, "Why are you here?" I replied, "Well in a general sense, I am here to love God and love people." So, this is what I believe.
Love is the Way
I think that it is very easy to become apathetic to the world. There is legitimately so much sadness, anger, and devastation in the world that it is easy to shut off all emotion so that we don't feel the hurt of these things. There are days when I walk around campus feeling like a zombie. There's plenty of excuses one can make to not be loving: I didn't get enough sleep, I haven't had my coffee, I'm stressed out-- the list goes on. Many relationships in life fall apart not because of some scandalous situation one would watch on a lifetime movie but because people become apathetic toward each other. We think that if we show our emotions on our sleeves then we are at risk to be hurt, and we are right. To love is to put ourselves at risk of having our hearts broken-- by romantic partners, and even friends and family. Here is the thing, though: to risk heart break and love anyway is better than to have no emotion at all. We shut all our emotions down so that we don't have to feel the bad ones, but that is no way to live life. It is better to feel everything at once than nothing at all. We were not created to live zombie lives. We were made to wonder, create, interact, cry, laugh, and love. We were made to feel the entire scope of human emotion. Helen Keller is quoted saying, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” I personally feel much better about life when I am expressing my passion. We were all made with unique and specific interests, and I believe part of our purpose on Earth is to pursue those passions! Now, when we are feeling our emotions properly, some of us choose to hate. Hate is a thing that will consume us. A famous analogy used to describe hate is that it is like drinking poison in hopes that the other person will die. I believe that love is the best way to live life. Don’t love in search for love in return, just love regardless. Love God. Love your family. Love your neighbor. Love your enemy. Love your significant other. Love outcasts. Love yourself. Just love, love, love. One of my favorite pastors, Pete Wilson, once said that love is not something that you can use up; it just increases the more you give it. So, let’s choose love.
So, in my original personal philosophy statement from the first day of class, I would tack on one more category to love. It is very important to love oneself. Self-love enables you to love others better and to love God better. Self-love cultivates a healthy life where passions flourish. Too often we find ourselves hating on ourselves and what we naturally gravitate to. If you can appreciate the gifts, passions, and traits that make you unique, life will be much happier. We were made uniquely with our specific interests, passions and traits for a reason. We need all types of jobs, hobbies, and creators in the world to make a functioning society. We were made differently for a purpose and we should embrace it and do our best at what we love and enjoy. Too many people settle for a life that is good enough instead of pursuing our passions just to fit into society's perfect box. The bottom line is we should be pursuing a life that is fruitful for ourselves and for the world. If your passion is ice cream, go make the best dang ice cream shop that the world has ever seen. I'll assure you that you and the world will be much happier than if you decide to throw away your passions for a boring office job just because it’s easier. Appreciate yourself and who you were made to be. We often think lowly of ourselves because we are our own worst critics when we should be the our own #1 fans. In today’s society it is hard to accomplish self-love with advertisements bombarding every media, trying to convince you that there is something about you that needs to be fixed. In the tv series The Mindy Project, Mindy feels bad about her weight gain after pregnancy, and a friend brings over a beauty expert to help. The beauty expert tells Mindy to stand in front of a mirror and describe herself. Mindy stands in front of the mirror while insulting and degrading herself. The expert then asks Mindy, “If the person in the mirror was your best friend would you be as mean to her as you’re being to yourself?” and Mindy replied no. The expert then said, “Well I have news for you: you are talking to your best friend.”
This is an ideal I think we should all adopt. We will always have ourselves as company throughout life, so we might as well treat ourselves how we should treat everyone else in life-- with love and respect. Often times, the root of bullying and hatred towards others stems from self-loathing. So, it is much easier to love others once you can love yourself. Think, the God of the cosmos created each of us and loved us enough to die for us. We are quite literally made out of the same material as the stars. We are all deserving of love. Choose to love yourself.
In the next installment, I will discuss more about my personal philosophy in relation to loving God and loving people. -Terry Barkley, H3