Loving people can be difficult. They’re just so … un-lovely at times. The offenses range from cutting ahead in a merging line of traffic to unspeakable crimes. What to do?
Perhaps an answer lies in looking at the root causes of this ugliness. At first it might seem that pride, selfishness, jealousy, and so forth drive the deeds that drive me crazy. That’s true to a degree. But if I search deeper still, something much more profound emerges.
Greed could lead a man to steal from his employer, but what led the man to greed? If one accepts the biblical account, the answer is that we are all trapped in a nature which often voluntarily makes wrong choices – sometimes extremely wrong. Our level of control over that is a matter of debate, but it’s clear that strengths and weaknesses vary by the individual and the situation.
Fully realizing that I possess the capacity to do whatever horrible act someone else has done causes me to soften a bit. Maybe turn down the judgment and turn up the mercy. As John Bradford stated upon seeing a procession of condemned prisoners, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
Should terrible behavior be tolerated by society? Not at all. Appropriate consequences for actions? Certainly. None of this, however, restricts my liberty to feel and show compassion toward a fellow human being. I’m free to love.