- Robert Benson
Our Unifying Call to Love One Another
Updated: Mar 3, 2020
My friends and partners who support Love Forward come from a wide range of faiths and backgrounds, but there is one value that draws together and transcends our differences: our love for one another and for others.
I am personally inspired by the words and ministry of Jesus, who said, "A new command I give you: love one another.” The love of Jesus sought out, elevated, and empowered those who were not equally valued in the society of his day, including women, people of other ethnicities, those with disabilities and disease, and people of certain social and economic classes. The love of Jesus took him on a path to the cross, where he gave his life for those he loved—including me.
The direction of my life was fundamentally changed by the love of my adoptive parents, who cared for me after I was abandoned. I experienced that love as a reflection of the adoptive love of God toward me, and I strive to express that same love toward others—a love that is intentional, unconditional, enduring, and that has no agenda other than to affirm the value of others. That is the love that brought me to where I am today, and it is the love that carries me forward.
As an organization, Love Forward does not have a specific religious or political affiliation. It is a platform where people from diverse cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds can work together on behalf of the most vulnerable and marginalized in our world, and build genuine and lasting relationships with one another in the process. As one of my friends wrote to me, “I am not a religious person. But we can agree that correcting injustice and doing good are important objectives for all who are able.”
Differences in beliefs and ideologies have the potential to divide us, but that does not argue for an abandonment of faith and principles. It should lead us to grow deeper in our love for one another, so we can transcend those differences. Authenticity requires that I express my faith through the life that I live, and I invite the same authenticity from every person who joins us in this effort. Because that is what real relationship consists of.
We are living in an era when changes are happening so rapidly that people across the world are feeling an urge to retreat and entrench, to protect their identities, and to live by an “us versus them” mentality. This is precisely the time when we need to find common ground and work together around shared values and vision. When we love one another, we don’t need to check our faiths, ethnicities, nationalities, and diverse backgrounds at the door—we can bring the entirety of who we are, as human beings, to the work that we have set our hearts, minds, and hands to accomplish together.
We are living an era when our culture has a growing awareness of gender bias and sexual assault. In the midst of the abusive and exploitative actions by some, we must double-down on our commitment to be genuinely kind and caring toward those around us. And then we must take the next step of affirmatively advocating for, empowering, and advancing women in every part of our society, remedying existing inequalities while creating equality of opportunity for the next generation.
We are living in an era of incredible technology that includes artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, and virtual reality. Social media can be harnessed for positive advocacy on an entirely new scale, but it also has the power to destroy people and reputations faster than ever before. Taken together, advanced technology and social media has the potential to isolate us and dehumanize our interactions, but when we are intentional about loving one another, we can stay rooted in genuine relationships that have value and meaning.
We are living in an era where our culture and the corporate world is hyper-focused on increased productivity, efficiency, and countless different metrics of performance, success, and return on investment. In the midst of this, we must not be deterred from engaging in acts of love and kindness, just because their impact cannot be measured or quantified. Rather, we must ensure that love and kindness motivates and infuses every part of our lives.
Our global society is at a crossroads. Now more than ever before, we need to build bridges and draw together. We need to avoid the instinct to play it safe. We need to have the courage to love others as we love ourselves, to treat every human being as worth any cost. We need our actions to shout to others:
YOU ARE LOVED.
YOU ARE WORTH IT.
Without that, we will lose our humanity. With it, every one of us can make a difference.