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How to be loving …


Question and Answer



Dear rB,

You talk about loving and not being filled with hate. I remember this past summer you turned the racist, anti-Semitic graffiti outside your house into a teaching moment about love. I want to know how.

Not to be a pain, but it just seems like a disconnect to love someone or to show love to people who act in hate. I want to understand, as it’s great in theory. I want to understand the how. I think a lot of wisdom, which I agree with 100%, doesn’t go the distance of explaining more. It leaves people hanging. I feel there needs to be more of a bridge to the understanding and connecting to what victims go through to help them find the way to show love, when they may be understandably dealing with so much. Just thinking about your situation of having graffiti outside your home — that’s very intrusive and a lot to deal with. How, when one is attacked in any way, can they be expected to love?

I just feel more needs to be done to comfort and understand the people going through something before giving them a very difficult task to love someone or something that has caused damage or pain.

-Want to be more loving.


Dear Want to be more loving –

It is not easy to be more loving. Of course it’s not. It is not easy to respond to hate with love.

It is not easy to respond that way because we are wired to respond in kind: you attack me, I attack you.

Before we get to HOW, I want to establish that it is possibleto change the way we respond

Because unless you believe it is possible to do, it would be much harder to do.

So, first, you accept that it is possible. It is possible to respond differently.

Then you make it a goal and practice to reach it.

You ask yourself if it is something you want. Do you want to be able to respond to the world with love?

How do you practice?

You start with small things. You start with NOTICING when someone says something a little unkind toward you and you respond with something unkind.

You start with noticing when you hear yourself in your own head comment negatively about your own actions.

And you act with compassion toward the fact that you reacted not as you wish to react, but how you habitually react.

And you work on it. Slowly. Slowly. Change happens slowly, and you find that you are able to NOT criticize yourself or the other person.

Then, slowly, slowly you notice yourself thinking, “I wish I could have responded with love.”

But you can’t.

Not yet.

You are learning.

First you must be aware of what you are doing.

Then you slowly layer compassion into that. And keep building progress slowly.

You practice over and over again with the small things until you can level up. And it starts again. When you level up to something larger than a small thing, you again find yourself reacting to anger with anger, to snark with snark. Again you find yourself reacting NOT as you wish you would, but as you had been.

Practice with medium things until you get that, too.

And then level up again. Repeat the process. Until, eventually, you are acting in the world with love.

With regard to your second point about telling someone to do this, don’t. I wouldn’t tell someone that they must respond with love. I am explaining to you how I do this because you asked.

If this makes sense, do it.
If I can help, ask.


Visit Rabbi Brian’s website Religion Outside the Box

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