The Ancient Greeks had several names for love and with Valentine’s Day almost here, we often think of two kinds of love described in their culture: Eros, (sexual passion and desire) or Philia, (deep comradery or friendship). The Greeks had another name for love, Agape meaning love for everyone. Agape was later translated into Latin as caritas, which is the origin of our word “charity.”
In our modern culture, this kind of love seems to have fallen out of favor. Every day, we face frustrations that can be described as arrows of hate and the spears of anger. Arrows can even be shot in a glance without a single word being said. While victims react to Cupids arrows by falling madly in love, the reaction to the arrows of hate and anger is generally madly pulling out your own arrow and aiming one right back until…zing…you send the arrow right back to that person.
So why don’t we try for a different response? Let’s try Agape love, instead. Silently and to yourself, greet everyone you meet with the thought – I love you. We can create a shield of Agape love to deflect the arrows so they will fall to the ground. “But returning an arrow is so much faster than hoisting up that shield,” comes our innate response. Columnist George Sweeting wrote of a conversation he had with a student. “I lose my temper, but it’s all over in a minute,” said the student. “So is the hydrogen bomb,” George replied. “But think of the damage it produces!” All it takes is a decision to put those arrows away, and instead, wield the shield. Once this decision to absorb the arrows becomes automatic, we may even lower our shield and cast it aside. But, let’s admit it; that could take some serious strength. So, until then, when you see an arrow headed your way, choose to block it.
Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. -Lao Tzu