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Has Society Lost the Capacity to Really Love?

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Credit: Getty
Credit: Getty

The following is a community contribution from blogger Kenneth Stepp. It originally appeared on Gwinnett Patch.

I founded American Angel Works, a nonprofit I had hoped that would be a tool for me to help change one life at a time. Some of my stories about real love have come from this organization.

I wrestle with being an over thinker constantly. My journey from being nonjudgmental that began about a year ago has taken turns that are surprising. My capacity to love complete strangers so completely is the second biggest surprise so far. The first has been how others perceive that love.

Society has lost it's ability to understand real love. I am convinced of this because of the feedback I received from a recent rescue mission I engaged in. A homeless girl in Port Richie Florida. She was scared to death, her friend was raped and murder and she was forced to watch. This happened in Tampa. She escaped and walked to Port Richie. She hadn't eaten in three days.

So what does love do? I called every shelter and church in the area. Some had a "system" designed to decide if they "could" help. None would immediately. My lease was up, so I packed everything I owned in my Suburban a and headed south. Not sure how long I would be gone at all.

I sent emails explaining what I was doing. The responses we quick. Anywhere from, this was none of my business, fools errand, to even vilifying my motives. I'm glad I can still be surprised. I would have rather seen a more positive spin though.

Three people helped fund the trip. One is an old friend with a big heart, but very broke, the other was an old friend with a big heart, broke as well, but trusted my heart. The other was the mother of a missing girl I helped find years ago. The rest was on me.

Driving is my quiet, thoughtful time. And I have been driving a lot today. All of these people with negative thoughts about my trip south are wonderful people. I believe they are indicative of society as a whole. They aren't bad, just lost. But if told they were lost, they would defend their errant path to the death.

So what did conditional love see in my journey? It saw a person too far away to help, it had questions about why she was in this situation, it knew it had plenty of it's own problems, it only saw a situation.

What did unconditional love see? It saw a person that had less than it did, it saw a person that had not eaten in three days, it saw a fellow human, not a situation.

Contact the author: k@kstepp.com


southernbelle March 12, 2014 at 07:22 PM
Did you know the most common ways of bullying in schools is now verbal abuse? kids have LEARNED (yes learned!!) that verbal attacks hurt deeper and longer than any physical attack does. The most common things kids sway to each other now is: You're FAT! You're ugly! No one likes you, you should kill yourself! Why don't you die! You need to starve yourself, you're too fat! and more…. it is horrific how mean and vile kids are to each other. I never would've begun to think about telling someone to kill themselves. But that's the new society. Desensitized, mean/rude, uncaring, incapable of loving. The only time we see people be nice to each other is when a tragedy strikes. Otherwise, it's a battle out there.
bthebest March 13, 2014 at 07:26 AM
You know that our society has lost the compassion to love thy neighbor, help others that are less fortunate ....Now a days kids are taught that to do "kind things for others" is referred to as "community service" and if you do it you will receive "community service credits" and this will help you get into college! When I was a kid my mother made my brothers and I help our elderly neighbors, we didn't receive anything in return for it, we were just taught that it is the "right thing to do." It's unfortunate that our children are being taught that you will "receive" something for your good deeds....because just feeling good about helping others that are less fortunate isn't enough?
southernbelle March 13, 2014 at 08:20 AM
@bthebest-- You made a really good point and I thought to myself--yes, why is that? Part of me sees parental laziness, lack of manners and mutual respect being taught and passed down, but another part of me also recognizes that BUSYNESS is a big part of our problem. Why do high schools have to demand community service for grad requirements? Because we are so busy working and running kids to their sports and activities that they also have to have for college applications, or assistance to even afford to get into college that there isn't anytime left in the day to serve others freely on a regular basis. Kids are doing 4 hours of sports after school 5 days a week, plus homework. Weekends are usually filled with their games/tournaments they've practiced all week, they beg for some social time and when Sunday afternoon rolls around they are so exhausted that parents want to let them do nothing in order to rest so they can do it all over again on Monday. Add two-three kids in that crazy mix and the parents are also exhausted, needing a day of semi-rest, that the idea of serving others becomes a thought of burden rather than joy. It's the old cliche--the daily grind-- and it's robbing us of our humanity; replacing our humanness with robotic-mundane, over-competitive, self-absorbed, survival instinct. I know, that's pretty dramatic… it's what I've been feeling for awhile though. I've craved moving back to the country where life was simpler and less chaotic for awhile. Where you actually know and can trust your neighbors, where you can go to the store and it's okay if you forget to lock your car, where you can send your child to school and they don't have to fight for their lives to get lunch before the bell rings (my daughter has 3300 other students ALL having the SAME lunch period!!! YES, I AM serious!!). All of this has surfaced my homesick heart---I want so badly to go back in time and back to where life wasn't such a daily battle. *sigh* ugh, sorry for being depressing. I'd better go out and run, get some sunshine this morning, and maybe I'll find something I can do for someone else today.
Stevo March 13, 2014 at 05:26 PM
Southernbelle - I feel your pain. Seems like everyone has forgotten how to step back and smell the roses. I don't even look foward to weekends anymore. It's just more busy time.
Kenneth Stepp May 15, 2014 at 03:26 PM
I was honored to see my ramblings show up here. Thank you so much for resharing them.

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