From her concert stage in Sweden last week, Madonna spoke words of love and hope in the aftermath of the nightmarish events in Paris.
Here’s a bit of what she said,
“Only love will change the world, but it’s very hard to love unconditionally, and it’s very hard to love that which we do not understand or that which is different than we are, but we have to or this will go on and on forever.”
Was she right?
Is love the only thing that will change the world? Will love and understanding stop terrorism?
Yes and no.
There’s a philosophical idea that’s popping up all over the world. It’s becoming popular in Christian circles, in politics, and even with entertainment elites. It’s a distortion of the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule says,
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”
That’s pretty good advice. Jesus uttered that thought over 2000 years ago, and mothers and school teachers have been uttering it ever since. The new philosophy gaining ground today builds on this thought. We’ll call it The Golden Rule 2.0. It says,
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and they will do the same.”
That’s a very comforting thought. The only problem is that Jesus never promised that. The point of Jesus’ teaching isn’t that there’s a way to guarantee that people will treat you well. When we twist the Golden Rule to promise this, something very ugly happens. We can begin blaming victims for how they are treated.
I’ve worked with countless abused wives who were trying to pull their lives back together. An overwhelming majority believed in The Golden Rule 2.0. They would say things like “it’s my fault that he hit me, I shouldn’t have made him angry.” They would walk softly around their husband trying not to “set him off”. The truth is that no wife should ever be abused. Ever. Period. There is no excuse for abuse. There’s also no excuse for gunning down innocent men, women, and children.
So, will unconditional love stop terrorism?
Are we still called to unconditionally love?
We love unconditionally, but we are also honest. We allow each person to be responsible for their actions without making tons of excuses. Whatever happened to make an abusive husband an abuser doesn't change the fact that he is still the one responsible for reaching back and hitting his wife. He has to find a way to get better, and if he doesn’t, he needs to answer for his actions.
We love, not to change other people , but so that we will be changed. Those who choose love, always grow. It won’t stop terrorism, but it will crush selfishness , pride, and arrogance. There will be thousands of ideas put forward as to how to stop terrorism in the coming weeks and months, and I hope that our governments will find a way to address it. But on top of all of that, let’s choose love. Choose to love honestly. Choose to love without ignoring justice. Choose to love with grace. Choose to love and choose to forgive. Choose to love and choose to hope.