“The more I detest men individually the more ardent becomes my love for humanity.”
– Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
I have been thinking about this quote a lot lately. It’s easy for me to love humanity. It’s easy to feel pity for starving children, or orphans, or those who are poor. It is especially easy to feel pity when these poor people, orphans, and hungry children are far away, and appear in cute little pictures on my computer screen. It is very easy to have grandiose ideas about “showing God’s love the least of these.”
It is very hard to love the people I live with every day. It is very hard to proactively think of nice things to do for the people I live with, to get out of my self-centered bubble and think about how to show them love–right now, in this moment. It is hard to remember to stay in touch with family on the other side of the world. It is hard to notice when the people I am around everyday are sad, lonely, or discouraged, and even harder to actually act on that knowledge and do something to make them feel better.
It’s so much easier to love humanity than it is to love people.
Something I am praying for right now is that even as I look forward to and prepare for my time with iThemba, I also am looking around me to see the needs of those I live with here. Because if I can’t love others today, what will being 10 000 miles away with a job description suddenly change?
Yes, my love should extend beyond my immediate sphere of those I know, those who are like me, and those who are literally in my space. But I should never, ever think loving some abstract concept takes the place of loving the flesh and blood people whom God has graced me with.
How can you love an individual person today?