Yes! If we love our neighbors, just as we love ourselves, there would be a significant change in our society.
“People killing, people dying, children hurting, you hear them crying, can you practice what you preach, would you turn the other cheek? Father, Father, Father, help us, send some guidance from above, cause people got me, got me questioning, where is the love?” This was one of my favorite songs back in the day! who else sang the lyrics, rather than read them? The lyrics to the hit Black Eyed Peas song that came out in the early 2000s is so shocking to still be relevant to this day, about 15 years later.
As I listened to the song, I was wowed by the fact that we are still dealing with a lot of things that they sang about so many years ago. The world we live in today is full of so much hate and segregation. People are separated by their skin color, language and what they believe in. Everyone wants to be heard, but no one is giving their neighbor the chance to speak. We go about our daily lives, not really caring for the people around us. If we don’t see evil, then we pretend that it doesn’t exist.
Moving back to Nigeria has opened my eyes to a lot of things. While I was living in the United States, every day I got up, hopped into my car and went about my business, I never really came across a homeless person. I mean, I have always known that there are people out there struggling, but since they were not at my forefront it was very easy for me not to even think about the poor and the helpless. Same with the issue of racism and segregation. When I read stories of people being harassed or even killed because of the color of their skin, after that intense moment, it slips through the cracks of my brain, because (thankfully!) I was never really around that kind of hostile environment.
After I moved back home, I started seeing adults and children on the streets who couldn’t fend for themselves. And it broke my heart. Driving through the streets of my city, I couldn't help but notice them at all times. From the underage kids who want to try and clean your windshield, just so you can reward them for their actions, to the ones who flat out tell you that they don’t want money, they just haven’t had anything to eat all day. I am constantly plagued with the thoughts of how I can help the displaced people, especially the children.
No child deserves to be on the streets. I often wonder if Jesus was walking the streets today, and He came across those children if He would walk past them without doing anything, and my answer is usually no! You know, like the famous acronym WWJD- What would Jesus do? So I have to do something, we have to do something.
It can be as little as looking for somewhere to serve in your local community that fends for displaced people, it can be donating your resources to organizations who their primary goal is to get people off the streets. It can be giving your time and love, to listen to people tell their stories of how they ended up on the streets, so you can know how to help. We have to be our brother's keeper.
You may be thinking right about now- so where does love come in? If we truly loved and cared for others, we would fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. We would be a see something, (not just say something) but do something, kind of society. We wouldn’t let the poor and needy suffer the way they do. We wouldn’t let the defenseless, keep being attacked, we wouldn't turn a blind eye to the countless women who are being sexually harassed at the workplace or even at home. When it comes to the issues surrounding racism and segregation, rather than put the blame on the attackers, or being the first to document the scenario, we would show them how to love, by extending love and forgiveness to them.
When love increases in a society, crime reduces drastically. Think about it, you won’t steal from who you love, you wouldn’t rape or murder your loved ones, you won’t be a false witness against your loved one, you will protect who you love and if you are a leader, you will make decisions, having it at the back of your mind that the society your decisions affect, are made up of human beings. I believe that is why God said we should love our neighbors, just as we love ourselves.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Dr. Martin Luther King
As humans we can’t keep paying evil for evil. If we keep doing that, no one around us is going to change, we can only lead by example, and show people love, even when they don’t love us. Sometimes loving people regardless of who they are can often drive them to change. The bible says in Luke 6:32-36 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” And it goes on to say, when we love the people who can’t love us back in return or do good to those who can’t repay us, then our reward would be great, and we will be children of the Most High God-Because He is kind to those who are ungrateful and wicked.
Reverting to the lyrics of where is the love, another part of the song says “But if you only have love for your own race, then you only leave space to discriminate, and to discriminate only generates hate” which in a sense mirrors what the bible verse is saying here. We have to learn to extend love wherever we go, we have to show compassion to those who the society has cast away, we have to learn to see beyond the four walls of our own lives because people are suffering and it is only true love and compassion that can fix that.
If anyone in recent times can relate to suffering and racism, it would be the Late Nelson Mandela, and I will end with a quote of his. "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
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This article can also be found on Thrive Global