I began to forget

“Oh it’s so easy to laugh, it’s so easy to hate. It takes guts to be gentle and kind.”

–The Smiths

            Because love is a major theme on this trip, I have looked at the word as a way to see past the differences of people.  To forget gender, religion, race, and sexual orientation, and to see people as human. However, I have started to think about the word forgive. How forgiveness is such an important aspect of love. I started thinking about how you must forgive and learn to appreciate what has been given. In the Lord’s Prayer, the last line goes “Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” When I hear this, I can’t help but think about a scene in the movie Gandhi.

 “Gandhiji, I have killed a man,” sobbed a Hindu.

“Why did you kill him?”

“He killed my son.”

“I have an idea on what you must do. You must find an orphan boy, and take him in as your own. Love him like he is your own son. But you must make sure he is Muslim.”

After thinking about Gandhi’s ability to forgive, I began listing all of the people who I may have a grudge against, who I may dislike, who may have hurt me in some way, or who I often criticize and I started recalling all that they have given to me. I began to forget the time when my heart was broken but remember the happy times that were given to me. I began to forget the time when my friend offended me and remember the time she gave me a hug when I was down. In this way, I tried to cleanse myself of all the negative energy. The list of what I have been given helped me to forgive, and therefore, to love.

            At school, I often hear people say they do not believe in love or they do not know what it is. Many adults often tell teenagers that they could not understand what love is because they are too young. Before this trip, I used to agree with that statement and think of love as being sacred and reserved for only a certain few people. Now, I am not so sure. I think love is being able to put another person before yourself. To risk your life for his or hers. Love is being able to be what MLK defines as a good neighbor:

The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others. In dangerous valleys and hazardous pathways, he will lift some bruised and beaten brother to a higher and more noble life. (And Who is My Neighbor?, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)

I know many people who think they could not do this for anyone, but I think if a time came, they would. For example, one of my friends was drinking on campus. Her friend saw her drunk, and immediately he helped her to the health center. Then, he waited for four hours when she could finally come out to see how she was doing. That night, he walked her back to the dorm. For the next few days, he hung out with her to watch over her, and to make sure she was recovering okay. This is an act of love. Although he was a good friend to her, I believe that if a stranger saw a person very drunk, he or she would do the same thing. When people are in danger, compassion often overrules unfamiliarity. Or at least I would like to think so.

            We all have the capacity to love and to show love. But first, we must learn to know ourselves and love ourselves before we can love others. I am starting to think that teenagers say they do not believe in love because they often are going through a time when they do not know themselves. When a couple says, “I love you” for the first time, it often throws people back and think wow, this is serious. The word is scary for many. I think it’s because the idea of someone caring for you to such an extent is an unnerving feeling. How can that be? How can someone accept me so much? How can someone put in so much energy for my wellbeing?  By not understanding themselves, teenagers do not understand how to love. However, this does not mean they do not know what it is.

            One could argue that this love is different than romantic love. I talked to Mukesh-bhai about this. He said that all love is in the heart and romantic love is in the mind. However, you must find love in the heart first. Once you have found the love in your heart, it can spread to the mind. If you do not feel it in your heart, it is not true love. This affirmed my belief that to love is to be a good neighbor. And you are a neighbor to everyone.

One thing I still do believe is that love is sacred, but it should be universal.  Everyone should experience love in their life.