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Opening Our Eyes to the Unloved

Opening Our Eyes to the Unloved

We must love one another or die. -W. H. Auden

 

A near tragedy was averted by love this week in a Georgia elementary school when the school’s bookkeeper was able to connect with love to a troubled, angry, lonely young man who could no longer bear the weight of being unloved. He arrived with a loaded gun and enough additional ammunition to kill everyone in his path. He was accustomed to being rejected, even by his family and no doubt was surprised that someone would react with something other than fear upon seeing him. Antoinette Tuff’s calm presence engaged him with personal stories of her own loss and disarmed him by including him. The shooter, a young man of 20, was ready to die and wanted to take as many people as possible with him. When he admitted “no one loved him” she replied earnestly that “she loved him and was proud of him…”  Afterwards, when she was asked how she was able to respond with love, she said, “That wasn’t me; that was God.” Certainly meeting fear with love and acceptance is at the foundation of all spiritual teaching.

Maintaining our composure and responding with love to situations and people who frighten, annoy or disgust us is a challenge that deserves more of our attention. Not just because violence is becoming more prevalent, but because we all need more love. We renew the national dialogue about the consequences of this specific mental illness of loneliness, isolation and unworthiness each time these experiences turn into suicidal self-loathing and violent rampages where murder is the only way for these young men to share their pain. The cure is not arming schools; it is, as Antoinette showed us, more connection and more love.

This experience of being unloved is widespread. I still remember my surprise when I heard a talk by Pema Chodron a few years ago and learned how many people in the room struggled to find a single person in their lives who they felt loved them unconditionally. This is not unusual. This state of feeling unloved and unlovable is closely associated with the epidemic of chronic loneliness that increasingly characterizes our culture. In the past 30 years the number of people reporting being continually lonely has doubled from 20 to 40%. Chronic loneliness is associated with higher suicide rates, impaired healing after illness and injury, higher levels of sustained stress hormones impacting all aspects of health, poor sleep and often poor nutrition. Overall loneliness will kill you faster than obesity or even smoking. New research demonstrates how loneliness even impacts our genes.

This sense of disconnection coupled with a pervasive sense of unworthiness surprisingly lives in many homes, as well as for the homeless people on the street. This is true because it is the quality, not the quantity of our relationships that teach us how to connect and trust the value we bring to our lives. It is becoming increasingly clear that we can no longer afford to avert our eyes from the people standing outside the circle of our lives. In this digital world of quasi connection, it is tempting to believe that our text messages or Facebook posts are reaching out. But if we stop and look around us, in our own homes, in our work places, in the grocery store and decide to give our full attention to the people in front of us we will find plenty of opportunities to display the same courage of loving directly that Antoinette demonstrated at that elementary school in Georgia.

We all have the seed of courage that Antoinette shared with us and it shouldn’t take a possible massacre to get us to grow that part of who we are. We are the most social mammals that have ever walked this planet and the only thing that will save us is our God-given ability to love.  Look around — there is someone right near you waiting for your heroic moment.

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Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called "the essential guide for relationships."  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

93 comments

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8:00AM PST on Feb 25, 2014

i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR. LALA how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. LALA on his email:lalapumena@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem cont

12:54PM PST on Feb 16, 2014

Whilst I understand someone wanting to kill themselves, I can never understand their desire to take out others wit them. Antoinette is one amazing lady and we can all learn from her.As Summerannie pointed out, we are all too busy in our own lives and we often do not even think to look at other people - it doesn't take much to include others, smile at strangers, ask if someone is okay. Sometimes, all it takes is letting another talk while we simply listen.

4:54PM PST on Feb 1, 2014

We could all be a little kinder...just a smile might save someones life one day..................

1:49AM PST on Jan 13, 2014

Thank you :)

4:52AM PST on Dec 8, 2013

who ever is reading this testimony today should please celebrate with me and my family because it all started like a joke to some people and others said it was impossible. my name is ANDY SMITH, i live in London, United Kingdom i am happily married with three kids and a lovely wife something terrible happen to my family along the line, i lost my job and my wife packed out of my house because i was... unable to take care of her and my kids at that particular time. i manage all through seven years, no wife to support me to take care of the children and there come a faithful day that i will never forget in my life i met an old friend who i explain all my difficulties to, and he took me to a spell caster and and the name of the temple is called, priest grace, i was assure that everything will be fine and my wife will come back to me after the wonderful work of priest grace, my wife came back to me and today i am one of the richest man in my country. i advice you if you have any problem email him with this email: ogbonispelltemple@gmail.com and you will have the best result. take things for granted and it will be take from you. i wish you all the best for luck his email: ogbonispelltemple@gmail.com

12:23AM PST on Dec 6, 2013

Cool

9:26AM PST on Nov 21, 2013

Thx

2:00AM PST on Nov 12, 2013

Thank you :)

2:20AM PDT on Oct 10, 2013

Thank you :)

5:21AM PDT on Oct 9, 2013

There must be a way out

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