“I have found a paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” ~ Mother Theresa

Two years ago on September 11, I listened to rebroadcasts of the terrorist attack on our nation. I was driving to meet my friend Jan who was traveling with me to Oklahoma City. It felt to me like the attack had just happened.

When Jan got in the car, she had also been listening to the same radio station. We talked about that day and she made an interesting point. It intrigued her how important it was to those who knew death was immanent for their family and friends know that they loved them. 

I  couldn’t quit thinking about what Jan had said and when I returned home I googled the last words of the victims. My tears blurred the words as I read transcripts of phone calls and interviews of those who lost loved ones in this heinous crime.

Not one person called to say, I’ll never forgive you, you hurt my feelings, I hate you. Instead they left messages saying, I’m okay, I love you, never forget that.

This just goes to show us what really matters, to give love rather than to expect it. It also presents the true meaning of love. In our English language there is only one word for love that is supposed to cover everything. And unfortunately, the way most of us understand love as an emotion. But love is more of a verb than a noun. It is an action more than an emotion. It is respecting, honoring, esteeming, and valuing others.

Do you remember how we as a nation pulled together in unity after September 11, 2001? It took a tragedy to remind us of who we really were. Unfortunately, like a vapor, that unity evaporated and once again we began fighting among ourselves over politics.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

This election year, I pray that we not let the lesson that cost precious lives go to waste. Let’s love (honor, respect, esteem, and value) our neighbor even if he or she votes different from us. Let’s not hate the people on our televisions or radios who express opinions different from ours. After all, isn’t it that freedom that makes this country great? We can have our convictions and stand up for them without hate.

Remember the lesson of love from those who died September 11, 2001. Love should be given more than expected. And remember this also—Unity begins with us.