Monday, August 11, 2014
Shaped by Who we love
St. Clare said that who we love shapes us.
Some human beings consider themselves to be simply an organism whose shape is predetermined by genetics. When they become human is based on subjective analysis. Perhaps a human being starts when the shape is identifiable, or maybe when the first breath is taken postpartum, or when we can recognize in form and structure a viable life. Or maybe in defective shape, or inconvenient circumstances what is in the womb isn't even human -- at least to some.
This subjective take on the human person makes it easy not to love. It entombs the heart, squashes faith and submits an isolated and emotionally unprepared mind to defective reasoning. And so, when termination of a "fetus" or viability or disability in a "pregnancy" are spoken of, the emotion of love is removed -- the "who" is displaced by the "what". Thus, the heart and mind are moved to fear; and not a holy fear of an uncertain future, but an irrational/self-centered fear that is counseled about the "whatness" -- lifestyle changes that will be difficult if not impossible to manage, that will interfere with the ability to do what you want. It denies and ignores the protection of the "who" (mother, father and child) deserving of love and compassion.
It's a wonder that we have such trouble loving others around us, why we live in a world where inflicting pain has become a past-time, where we can turn a blind eye or even rationalize barbaric behaviors that exist in our midst. True, we may be horrified by events, but do we see the "who" -- do we love the "who" -- are we shaped by the "who" in those circumstances?
For instance, the genocide of Christians in Iraq is a martyrdom that has caused many a good soul outside the region to suffer as they witness the atrocities via the Internet. A collective Western gasp of horror over the events is audibly heard. Yet, very little is being done by any nation, to include our own anemic air strikes (perhaps for fear of another terrorist attack on our own soil). Did we simply need to look as if we've made some effort; to do something to alleviate some deep, nagging, yet inexplicable guilt in our conscience that has lost its meaning through years of neglect? Does it help us to suggest that we took care of the "what" in the situation? -- we calmed the fighting; we slowed the progression; we protected the region...
Did we love the people? Are we willing to make sacrifices to save the lives? Were our actions shaped by the "who"?
We can witness these crimes against humanity, be sickened by them in the moment and yet, because they are not happening here in our midst, we somehow feel immune to their effects because it is a "what" and not a "who" with which we are dealing. We insulate our emotions and move forward as if it doesn't have any impact on our lives. But it does, and it will have lasting effects if we continuously desensitize our hearts and our minds to evil while systematically rejecting love as a motivating force.
But, how can this be? How can we watch and turn away. Surely, we are not so desensitized as to not realize that these are people being tortured, raped and murdered.
To most, these are isolated images; they are no more a part of their reality than a zombie slaying cable show. There is no "who" -- only "what".
And so we are shaped; our culture is shaped by a philosophy devoid of a person being a person regardless of where or why they end up in a circumstance, be it the womb or at the hands of terrorists in Iraq. We are shaped by a culture that forgets that Love is a person, and without Him, we cannot possibly hope to rectify any atrocity; neither abortion nor genocide will see a decline as long as we continue to ignore the "who" -- formed in image and likeness -- involved and allow ourselves to be shaped by rationalizations and fear of losing our material situations.
Who we love shapes us. Not what we love, but Who we love.
We have a choice, a clear one: allow our lives to be shaped in the absence or Love, or let Love shape us so as to see Love in everything and everyone around us.