Brotherly love. What comes to mind when you hear that phrase? Soldiers in combat? The Civil Rights movement? The Second Great Commandment–“Love thy neighbor as thyself?” In light of recent events in Orlando and other parts of the world, we might think brotherly love and compassionate tolerance are in short supply. My colleague, Kay Stroud, writing for the June 3, 2016 edition of Online Opinion, looks for evidence of “quiet acts of empathy,” tolerance, and ultimately love. Here’s Kay:
Scientists have made a powerful discovery that appears able to improve everyone’s life. Reports indicate it works on individuals, families, communities, economies, and nations. Interestingly, it appears that too little of this substance may explain the coarsening of language and the hardening of hearts so evident in politics and the media. Lack of it also might be responsible for everything from substance abuse to the anxiety many people say they feel despite the unprecedented security, better health, and affluence the world is experiencing.
And here’s the kicker: It’s free, it’s abundant, and you can’t overdose on it. (John Yemma, Christian Science Monitor)
The substance this editorial is referring to?
We see evidence of this love in quiet acts of empathy and encouragement demonstrated by carers from all walks of life. For instance, the guy in the queue at the supermarket checkout who steps up to pay the balance for the mother of two pre-schoolers who is caught short. Or the young female social media whiz who creates social change through her dedication to affirming the good while gently dismantling prejudice.
Then there’s the hospice chaplain offering simple words of comfort and walking a patient or family member through a process that aims to help them find meaning according to their own faith, or no faith.
Brotherly love, you could say, is at the heart of chaplaincy, pastoral care and spiritual services. But how widely do those professing a spiritual life have to cast their care?