I’ve been following the Britney Maynard story off and on via Facebook, and quite frankly, I’m appalled at some of the things people have said about her–people who claim to be Christians. I know it’s basically pointless, but I often feel like I have to come to the defense of people or causes or what have you on the internet. Do I believe that what she did was right? No, I don’t. If I was in her position would I have done the same? No. I don’t think so. Do I think she was brave? cowardly? I don’t know. I think in some sense she was very brave. She no longer had control over her life, so she was taking control in the only way she could. Furthermore, I think she handled it very well.
When people say really nasty things about her, they are making judgments about a literal life and death situation. She and her family do not deserve judgment–not from us. From us they deserve nothing but love and condolence. Whether it was suicide or not, and whether suicide is evil or not doesn’t matter now. What matters is that there is a family who has lost their daughter.
Something I’ve learned from this is that love has to be intentional. There is the love that happens naturally, which isn’t always as reliable, and then there is the love that we intentionally feel. In most cases, it is our emotions that initiate actions; however, if we are to make the world a better, more loving place, we have to act. We have to create love. Maybe it’s a little cliche–maybe a lot cliche, but a good question to ask in any situation is: what would Jesus do?
I read an article once, written by a professor (I think) in Ireland. He was riding home from a conference on the train one day, just thinking about stuff, when a man who was very clearly drunk got on the train, holding a bouquet of flowers. The man told the prof “these are for my mother.” He was very clearly upset. A few minutes later the man told the prof that he was going to pee out the door. Then the prof wrote, “In that moment I asked myself, ‘what would Jesus do?'” Then he got up and offered to hold the drunk man’s flowers for him.
It is actions like this that foster love. When we do and say kind things to one another, we are allowing ourselves to be more loving, and it can only get stronger as we continue to act this way. We can’t love some people and hate others. It just doesn’t work. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do anything when people do terrible things to each other. That’s not love; that’s laziness. We should always defend the innocent, even if it means causing a little trouble, but that doesn’t mean we can’t love those we disagree with.
It’s okay to hate actions, but generally people have a reason for doing terrible things. Maybe they had a terrible childhood. Maybe they are uneducated, scared and power-hungry. Maybe they’ve been corrupted by extremist religion. Those aren’t reasons to hate anyone. Those are reasons to pray for people, and yes, those are also reasons to fight.
It might feel forced at first, but if you make yourself love everyone, and I mean everyone, it will start to become genuine. So don’t be so quick to judge.
Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!