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Our Views: A fresh start

Easter offers a chance for renewal, to ‘love one another’ across all faiths

POSTED: April 24, 2011 1:00 a.m.

Easter Sunday provides a welcome pause each year to celebrate the renewal of spring and our human spirit, all in the rituals of Christianity's most sacred day.

As with other holidays, the secular trappings of egg hunts, baskets of jellybeans and chocolate and pink-eyed bunnies have encroached on the day's meaning, yet harmlessly for the most part. This day offers plenty of opportunity to dip our bucket into the well of faith to carry us through the days to come.

Those who attend Sunday services will hear myriad messages about the life, teachings and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and how his words instruct us still in our daily lives.

And yet, of the 180,000 or so words in the New Testament (depending upon which version you consult), these three seem to stand out most on this day and all days: "Love one another," John 13.

Mankind's natural inclination to destroy itself has, since ancient times, required us to balance our primitive instincts with an attempt to achieve a greater good, if only for our own self-preservation, never mind a state of grace. So, we seek to "love one another."

Though Christian in origin, this phrase cuts to the very essence of every idea within every faith. Without that love, we revert into barbaric thugs bent on looking out for No. 1 at the expense of all others. Sadly, our world, and our prisons, are filled with such people, and the quest for self-gratification has almost become a religion unto itself.

And yet, do the rest of us truly follow that guiding light every day, as we wish we should? Do we show love when someone cuts us off in traffic or slows us down at the checkout aisle? Do we love our co-workers when they frustrate us, our friends when they ignore us, or our family members when they fail to meet our lofty expectations?

"Love one another," Jesus said. He didn't say, "Love those who vote the way you do." Or "love those who live their lives to your satisfaction." Or "love one another, except those who worship in different houses and pray to a different god."

From our lay perspective, it seems that only good things can come from our efforts to "love one another," as in everyone, all of us, all the time, whatever it may be that divides us otherwise.

Ours is a society based on conflict, competition and confrontation. Much of that is necessary in the way our economy and politics function.

But the temperature on the daily dose of vitriol has been rising for some time. We see it in partisan politics that sometimes works as it should, but at other times leaves government hamstrung. We see it in a media culture that makes stars of those who rant and rave on TV, radio and the Internet and marginalizes others who give careful thought to providing modest answers.

Thus, can a daily world in which we compete for money, fame and power still be one in which love conquers all?

We're not sure, but it's certainly worth a try. Whatever our motivation — to follow the teachings of Jesus or just decide it's the way to live — a little more love and tolerance would go a long way toward making our lives less stressful and more rewarding.

There will be plenty of love in the air today for Easter Sunday. It will flow through the area's churches as they celebrate the life and resurrection of Jesus, and will carry over to the afternoon's egg hunts and ham dinners.

But will it still be there Monday morning as we head back into the daily rat race and find ourselves pushed to produce, to get the kids to school in time, to turn out the work our boss expects?

Will it still be there in the evening when the spouse leaves the dishwasher unloaded or locks the keys in the van?

So much of life is subtext. In the grand scheme, the things that usually bother and worry us most really don't matter. Very little of what we gripe about on a given day will make it into our obituary or onto our tombstone.

And yet, when we finish the day, those are the incidents, people and objects that will be first on our minds as we lay our heads down at night.

What Easter gives us is another chance to start fresh and leave all that mental baggage behind. The idea behind Christ's sacrifice is that a world of sinners had a chance to start anew, to step beyond their transgressions and find a new life in the rebirth of spring. As we do to this day.

And so, Happy Easter. Let's go love one another.



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