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“Is there another side of all of this, Phil?”

“Is there another side of all of this, Phil?”

A friend recently asked me this question. By “all of this,” she was referring to the suffering, sorrow, inhumanity, cruelty, violence, loss, death. All of this. 

And there has been a lot of it lately.

Now I know my friend to be a person full of hope. This is something we share: a belief that the world can be different, better. So her question landed with some weight. We are weary. 

The answer, of course, is, “Yes.” There is another side of this, but we are passing through a period of hardship and anguish and the only way out is through. 

The question I have is: Who will we be on the other side? 

The world around us is changing. And we are being changed. But it is unclear, yet, what we are becoming. 

I ask this question because what we become is up to us. How we react and respond to all of the pain and anguish around us will determine what and who we are on the other side.

Experts tell us that a common reaction to trauma is to draw inward, away from others, to isolation and self-protection. This inclination is reinforced by the individualist orientation of our society and by the imperatives of distance and separation in the COVID era. Common sense will tell us that in a time of danger, it is wise to minimize risk. 

But what if the opposite is true? What if, in this moment of danger, we are being called to have courage, to take a risk: to love each other more deeply.

This may sound like a paradox, but I invite you to consider some magical thinking that says our individual and collective health, freedom, and liberation requires exactly the opposite of self-protection. It requires reaching outward, towards each other, to community, and love. 

What if we get what we need by giving it away? 
What if, in feeding the hungry, we are nourished?
What if, in mending another’s wounds, we are healed?
What if, in freeing the captive, we are liberated?
What if, in giving of ourselves, we are made whole?

This is, actually, how love works. It is the ultimate paradox: it is made most real when it is being given away. 

If this is what we are being called to do: love each other more deeply, what are you willing to risk? What are you willing to do in the name of love?

With Love,



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