Where is the Love?

GenerousSo, where is the Love?  Bart Simpson once said: “If you don’t watch the violence you won’t get desensitised to it.”  An ironic jibe from a cartoon which often portrays in a cartoon within a cartoon the ‘Itchy and Scratchy show’ A cartoon mouse finds ever more inventive ways of destroying the cat.  There is little possibility of avoiding the violence of the news in recent weeks and I wonder if we are perhaps getting so used to seeing and hearing what is going on in so many places around the world that we aren’t perhaps a little desensitised to the suffering of our fellow humans.  Contrast this with the Rugby World Cup, playing (over and over) Holst’s theme from Jupiter with the words ‘World in Union’. Really?  Spectacular events command out attention.  But violent events more so.  So it was this week, to a backdrop of rising tensions in europe, displaced people and an every rising number of refugees seeking shelter, the news reported the cut of a man’s suit, the state of a beard and more importantly six questions asked calmly by one man of another.  I can’t help but reflect on this as a deliberate and quiet attempt of generosity to bring back to reality what had become a spectacular event of verbal violence of little substance.  So begins a quiet revolution with an act of generosity.  In 2004 a small experiment began with 100 people.  The idea was to attempt to live a year of generosity.  Generous acts to each other, generous to the environment, generous in community.  The initial thinking went as follows:  What if the world wasn’t loaded in favour of a small minority of its people?  What if we could look after the planet as well as looking after ourselves?  What if a bunch of people tried to exploit the power of new technology to live a little more generously and do it in community?  Well that was the beginning.  Eleven years on, over 11,000 generous acts we’re suggested for the community to sign up to.  A community of almost four thousand people.  Not many you might suggest.  Though twelve seemed to cause plenty of trouble.  So I ask this week:  Where is the Love?  As the disciples jibe with each other for the top position, and countries argue over quotas of refugees, Jesus reprimands them all with a child.  Now I’m reading between the lines here for which you will have to forgive me, but in Mark’s Gospel we have this: “Then he took a little child and put it among them.”  Well imagine the scene.  I can’t but think this was a deliberate attempt to challenge and provoke them, putting a child in their midst and allowing him or her to do whatever a child might want to do in such a situation. A Quaker meeting has often been described as peace and quiet time with God.  However at one meeting a friend recalls a child began to cry.  The mother, in whose arms the child lay, was helpless to stop the child and for some time the crying continued.  Then a member of the gathering rose to speak as is customary and said simply: “Thanks for the ministry of the child.”  My friend groaned inwardly as he recognised the generosity of welcome towards the child and his own desire of quiet which stopped him listening.  Where is the Love?  The antithesis of the reactionary news media searching the sensational to sell their story is a paper called ‘Positive news’.  Ironically when I first heard about this paper it only came out monthly and was very thin.  However, I think the idea of Positive News and the generous network is infectious.  I’d like to tell you of ten stories of generosity that have been reported this last week, but on the surface I’d struggle to find even one and that is often the problem.
Where is the Love?  It is here.  We just need to look beneath the surface of that which attempts to draw our eyes away.  We need to look for the simply beautiful.  Such a discipline is to learn to see with the eyes of Jesus.  To understand how to welcome a child is to begin to be a generous servant of all.

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