On Sunday, April 10, 2016 I went to a Love Rally. It sounds a bit kinky, but it really was about the emotion of love. We gathered because the language of hate, the attitude of hate, the actions of hate were becoming too normal and accepted and acceptable. Our original date of Valentine’s Day was too cold to have the rally. The warm weather and sun on this April day signaled that maybe God was with us and showing us a little love. And we began talking about love.
At one point, Rabbi Shuli Passow got up to talk about a meditative practice to send love out into the world. A man in rumpled suit, untucked shirt, and a tie slightly askew came up to the stage. At first, I thought maybe he was part of Rabbi Pasow’s performance. But he quickly invaded her space, and took a physically intimidating posture over her. I couldn’t hear much of what he said to her, except that we all needed love and that he wanted a hug. Someone ushered him off stage and out of the audience.
He came back after a little bit, and stood by me in the front of the audience. It looked like he was going to go back up to the stage, as he was talking about showing some love. I asked him to show some love to the presenters by letting them finish. We started talking. He said to me he wanted a hug. I gave him one. We chatted for a bit about love and what he wanted.
He smelled of alcohol and was was full of non-sequiturs, and he wanted to talk. We walked out of the crowd, and he told about that he was a killer and had killed lots of people. I told him that he should let go of that anger and let love into his life. It was a platitude, but “love” was the word he kept saying. He sat on a bench, and then saw a dog across the park. He got up and ran for it to play with it. He was happy.
At this love rally, I met man whose name I do not know. At this love rally, I met this man who makes me wonder what love looks like for him. At this love rally, I met this man who wanted someone to show him a little bit of love, a little bit of kindness, as we all talked about love.
In meeting this man, I was reminded that love is not just words. Love is work. Love is action. On the main stage was sign with a quote from Rev. Dr. Cornell West, which said “justice is what love looks like in public.” It’s a very Shi’ah Muslim notion. Justice is what we are called to do, not love. We can love, but we need to manifest mercy, compassion, and justice.
This man reminded me that love is important. It has value absent anything else and does not be against anything. Love, though, is not concept, but a call to action, a catalyst for change, a reminder for compassion. So keep rallying for love and use it to remember to do good in the world. It’s the best thing any of us can do.