By Gabriel García
“In the world of pain there is a need for love, a real, real need for love… Love your brother… a need of love, a need of heart.” These words translated from the famous song by the Colombian singer Juanes paint a picture of humanity’s universal need for love.1“Everybody needs love” rang out another song from the sixties.2 And with the countless social conflicts, outbreaks of violence, cries of outrage, the scourge of the pandemic, along with the “viruses” of selfishness, self-centeredness, and self-service and other diseases of our times, what we need most is love.
Love that becomes real by actions, love that gives a hand, that is friendly and kind, that walks in another’s shoes and finds a way to help whenever possible. “A real, real need for love” to be shown by acts of kindness toward those who cross our path in the course of a day, or in the virtual communications that have become our new normal in confinement.
I sincerely believe that if we all make even a little effort to be courteous, to give words of encouragement, to show social graces, to make contributions, the world’s “climate” would improve, and we would all breathe a little easier. If we would try not to be critical of people, but to see their worth regardless of social condition, appearance, or any other prejudice we may be tempted with, there would be fewer violent reactions and more dialogue, more forgiveness.
And if we back up those kind gestures by introducing people to the author of love and pointing them to Him, our efforts will multiply. We can share a gospel tract, a “God bless you,” a Bible verse or a Christian quotation, and if the circumstances permit, we can strike up a conversation and talk further about Jesus, the man who went about everywhere doing good.
Sometimes people wonder and want to know what makes us tick, what makes us treat others with attentiveness, and in response, we can show them how Jesus was merciful, kindhearted, and compassionate. It’s amazing the witnessing doors that open for us through a word or act of kindness.
My friend Margaret was telling me about the serious, cranky man who works where she has a rented parking spot. One morning she was trying to operate her remote control to gain access to the parking lot, but she just couldn’t get it to open the gate. When Margaret asked the parking attendant for help, she received the curt reply: “Lady, you aren’t using the control right.”
In the end, Margaret learned how to use the remote control, but she kept thinking about the attitude of the parking attendant. Why did he act the way he did? Did he feel humiliated in front of the people who rented in the building? Had he received unkind treatment? What could it be?
Then she remembered the saying “A little bit of love goes a long way.” She decided to take positive action, to learn the attendant’s name and always greet him kindly.
“Good morning, Mr. Liborio. How are you?”
If she saw something positive that she could comment on, she would mention it. “Oh, you got a new haircut; it looks really good on you.” If he is eating a snack, she says, “Bon appetit!”
Through little gestures, she let him know that she was considerate of him as a person. Months passed, and Mr. Liborio began to change. Now he is softer and kinder and even likes to crack jokes with her.
“When a person can joke with you, it is a sign of confidence,” Margaret says.
Now they enjoy the relationship that has been born between them. He greets her warmly. It is the fruit of courtesy and respect—to make someone feel that they are recognized and valued. It is bringing God’s presence into the little daily details.
I propose a Love Campaign to the tune of the song by Juanes and the many other musical artists who motivate us with the message in their music and lyrics. Let’s be kinder, gentler, and more humble with those around us. To think we are better than others is just plain arrogance, as the apostle Paul put it—we should esteem others more than ourselves.3
Along with Margaret, I genuinely believe that each bit of kindness, courtesy, and respect we share with others will go a long, long way toward recouping the love that has been lost among us. Everywhere, wherever we go.
That we may bring to life these lyrics of Juanes, “It’s time to change in the thoughts of all, hate for love. It’s time to change.”4
By showing people love, we show them Jesus, who can then work in their lives and motivate them to join us in our love campaign. Together we can help to change this cold, insensitive world into a warmer, more loving place, a little more like heaven. Really, by acting more kindly toward others we can all be Jesus’ representatives who shine with His Spirit of love and prove to others, especially the more skeptical people, that He does exist and He cares for them and wants to lead them in the way of love.
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“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”—Leo Buscaglia
“If you have kindness in your heart, you offer acts of kindness to touch the hearts of others wherever you go—whether they are random or planned. Kindness becomes a way of life.”—Roy T. Bennett
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”—1 Peter 3:8 NIV
“It’s not our job to play judge and jury, to determine who is worthy of our kindness and who is not. We just need to be kind, unconditionally and without ulterior motive, even—or rather, especially—when we’d prefer not to be.”—Josh Radnor
“It’s a little embarrassing that after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give people is to be a little kinder to each other.”—Aldous Huxley
“In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”—Matthew 7:12 NIV
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”—Galatians 5:22–23