Why must we see fault and lay blame on anything and everything EXCEPT what is truly at fault and deserves the blame? It’s not the guns, it’s not the stated belief system, it’s not where you or I or the shooter came from or our ancestry! It’s the spirit of fear, hatred, anger, spite and difference and the violence that spirit incites in the hearts and minds of men. I may never understand hatred and violence, but I do understand this simple fact: very few of us actually, truly “love our neighbors as ourselves”!

I wrote the statement above a year ago today as a way to process the senseless deaths of 49 beautiful souls; 49 children of God. I didn’t know a single one of them and yet my world was and is diminished by their loss. In the year since, more souls from Syrian refugees and Coptic Christians to Nice and Westminster, from Manchester to London, from Somalia to the Philippines, from one end of America to the other have been lost to senseless fear, hatred and violence. Again, I haven’t personally known a single soul lost to this violence and yet my world is diminished.

We grow up understanding that the opposite of love is hate, that hate is the feeling, force or spirit we need to fight and protect ourselves against. Perhaps, but in the timeless words of that great philosopher, Yoda: “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.” Fear. Fear is far more dangerous, far more deadly. Fear leads us to flee, to do stupid things, to anger and hatred, to travel the path of the Dark Side. Fear is the opposite of love. Fear is the spirit we need to fight and protect ourselves from. I don’t mean fear as we feel in the fear of heights or spiders, although those fears can lead us to do stupid things that could get us hurt or killed. I don’t even mean the fear of the unknown. We can handle those fears and work through them. What of the fear of what we think we know? What of the fears we are taught and believe even when evidence proves otherwise? What of the fear of ourselves? These are the fears we need to fight. This is the spirit that is the antithesis of love.

Fear is common, ordinary, vulgar, reactionary. Love, true unabashed unconditional love, is uncommon, extraordinary, refined, revolutionary. Love is the rainbow in the sky after a deluge. Love is the beauty of a clear blue sky. Love is the purring of a cat on your lap or the wag of the dog’s tail as you walk in the door after a long day at work. Love is a heart open to the light and beauty held in the darkest of fears. Love is a man born for the sole purpose of granting us grace for the sins borne of our fears. Love is faith in that grace sight unseen. Love is the breath of life.

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