During Advent, the four weeks leading to Christmas, I have focused my columns on the four themes of Advent: hope, peace, joy, love. You might wonder why I have difficulty writing about this last topic because popular culture speaks so glibly about love. Many many pop songs focus on romantic love. Ballads extol love of country, friends and family.
Philosophy describes four types of love:
- Eros – erotic, passionate love
- Phila – love of friends
- Storge – love of parents
- Agape – love of humanity
It is this fourth type of love, agape, that resonates most strongly with me during Advent. But how can we love humanity when there is so much fighting and hatred at home and abroad?
Gleaned from the Internet, here are some ways to show your love for humanity:
1. Look for the good in people – We all have our good and bad sides. Don’t be quick to judge others based on the things they’ve done. Condemnation never brings out the best in people … altruism and sympathy do. Maybe all they need is for someone to understand them.
2. Smile – Don’t underestimate the power of a smile. A smile not only lightens up your face, it can also brighten someone’s day.
3. Give back to the community – Phone a shut-in. Volunteer a few hours for the Salvation Army. Make a donation to the food bank.
4. Treat others as equals – Let go of your biases and stereotypes. See people for who they are. Respect strangers the way you respect your parents. If even some of us do that, the world will be a better place.
5. Love yourself — You cannot give what you don’t have. Try to love yourself first. Give yourself a pat on the back. Avoid criticizing yourself. Take care of your physical and mental health. Eventually, that love will pour out into the people around you. 6. Forgive — Whether it’s your family or a stranger, the best way of showing love is forgiveness. All of us can make mistakes but not everyone can forgive. And if we do, we usually don’t extend that courtesy to people we don’t identify with. Everyone deserves second chances. We can learn to forgive and accept others despite our differences.