For 2018, I present two challenges for myself and for anyone reading this: can we show more hope, love, and courage in our daily lives? I’ll remember 2017 as a year of new encounters and engaging dialogue with people from different parts of the globe and who hold different worldviews. It is always interesting to listen to people and learn from their life experiences. One thing that struck me during my travels is that, whether they were conscious of it or not, the people I met were asking about the nature of love. We might say that love is still the most mysterious and powerful force and reality that transcends time and space. We know we need it; yet, it also seems foreign and strange because our world is littered with news of pain, suffering, and terror. Each year there are advances in technology, new innovations, and constant threat to security. Consequently, people seem to experience escalated anxiety and fear across the world. And so the world has become acquainted with fear and a stranger to love.
I wrote this poem after I participated in a group discussion concerning foreign policy and international development. It was evident that everyone was feeling frustrated at the slow pace of progress, lack of accountability, and the supposed inaction of the people ‘on the ground.’ During that discussion, I couldn’t help but think, “If we focused on what we could do, rather than what we couldn’t do, would we be able to see the positive change we’re envisioning? If we stopped pointing fingers at others and became honest with our own deep imperfections and flawed nature, would we be kinder to others?” This poem is a response to those questions. I hope it is also an encouragement for everyone who is going through dark moments.
Secondly, love as it is portrayed in the media today, has permutations and mutations. I agree that love involves being respectful of differences, treating each other kindly, and forgiving one another. After all, we are all imperfect and we fail to behave respectfully and kindly at all times. Sometimes we don’t even ask each other for forgiveness and say sorry anymore. The good news is that love can accept those faults and make up for the weaknesses that we identify in ourselves and in others. If that is the message that a movie, song, or play is sending, then I agree with that. I also understand the idea behind the slogan “love is love,” but I would have to disagree slightly. Without truth, there is no love. Truth and love would always go together; therefore, love is love when it is accompanied by truth, even when the truth is not what we prefer or want.
As I meet more people, learn from others, and grow as a person, I come to see more clearly that hope and love require courage – courage to engage with and befriend those unlike us or even those who we’ve come to see as adversaries. Love needs to become less abstract (lingering as concepts and ideas) and become more concrete (practical and tangible acts). This idea is the central message of my next poem. It is based on the moments when my parents wash the feet of my grandparents. During those moments I thought about how Yeshua washed the feet of the disciples and was moved by how real His love was for them and for all of us. When love is selfless and humble, perhaps then we can truly revive our dying world and compel each other to take up our cross and walk the path of unconditional love.