The lines are drawn, "in" versus "out" made excruciatingly clear, and we dare to call this love.
We have forgotten how to love one another without lines, without boundaries, without exception.
Instead, we have made enemies of the "other" -- which is really just another way of saying that we have made enemies of each other.
We all can recognize the pick-up lines, the ones that say that none is unlovable, none is without value -- and then we turn around and refuse to love, refuse to value:
You are respected -- unless you are poor.
You are trustworthy -- unless you are Black.
You are wanted -- unless you are gay.
You are valued -- unless you are female.
You are our brothers and sisters -- unless you are not Christian.
You are a beloved part of our global community -- unless you are not Western.
"We love because [God] first loved us" -- unless we don't like you or we fear you or we feel uncomfortable to any degree for any reason when we are forced to breathe the same air as you.
This is the kind of "love" I see pouring out across the lands, the kind that [religious] leaders not only either ignore or allow but often promote. In versus out. Us versus them. We call it spiritual, Biblical, righteousness, but it is justified hate: hate that is justified by the majority in protection of the majority.
We have the audacity to say that God meant it to be this way. This, this qualification above all else, this turning of injustice into divine decree, is a horror to me. But then I remember that there are scriptures like this one and this one, and I wonder that maybe it's not so much of a stretch after all to learn to think that God wanted it this way, and I shudder.
For so long, I thought that the world was made more beautiful by a diversity of faith, but now . . . now the blind dualism of some of these faiths makes me ill. The gross acts perpetuated and excused and ignored by some faiths are so heinous that I'd rather just see organized religion removed from the earth.
We love because God first loved us?
How about: we love, period.
This is your challenge. This is my challenge. This is our challenge.
The world depends on it.
Coming next: Part 2 -- a few thoughts on the how of "we love."