Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Posted December 26, 2009

Published in Lifestyle

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The Relationship between Violence and Love: A New Year's Resolution

Read More: acceptance, Christmas, forgiveness, love, New Year's Resolution, violence, well-being

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It's Christmas Day. The headlines of the L.A. Times read:  "Woman arrested in death of newborn found in trash bin." "Man charged with murder in stabbing death of ex-girlfriend." "Bus driver gets 151 years for molesting girls." "Girl, 11, missing; man charged." "Gunmen kill West Bank settler." "As many as 30 reportedly slain in strikes."

What all these headlines have in common is one thing. Believe it or not, they are all about people calling out for love. Granted, they are calling out for love in extremely disturbed, twisted ways, but, nonetheless, that's what they're doing. They are people calling out for love by doing horrific things to others.

Most of us, obviously, do not behave in such sadistic and violent ways in our relationships with others. We are, nonetheless, oftentimes calling out for love in ways that are inappropriate, hurtful and destructive, such as attacking our loved ones with verbal assaults when we feel threatened, rejected or invalidated.

Underneath our attacks, including those that are passive-aggressive, is a deep fear of abandonment and a deep desire to be nurtured and loved.

When we are small children who feel neglected and unloved, we do things that get ourselves in trouble just to get our mother's attention.  Getting negative attention, in terms of incurring Mom's wrath and possibly getting punished, is better than no attention at all.

We seek to gain negative attention, but the underlying motive is to get the mother's love. Our bad behavior generating our negative attention from Mom is a call for love.

It is, indeed, ironic that when we call out for love in this maladaptive way we are actually pushing away the object of our attention.

In any event, as we grow older and mature from infant to adolescent to adult, nothing really changes. We still tend to act out our hurts, our resentments, and our frustrations, leaving significant collateral damage in our wake. We're still calling out for love in misdirected ways that are doomed, that will never give us what we really want.

Ultimately, everything we encounter is either love or a call for love that is wrapped in fear and attack.

If this is true, if everything is either love or a call for love, then the appropriate response, regardless of what is happening, is to be loving. End of story.

So, on this Christmas Day, celebrating the birth of Christ, who represents unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness, we choose to be loving in all our actions and we make this our New Year's Resolution.

We make the decision to behave in loving ways every day and in every way regardless of what's going on and who's doing what.

It doesn't mean we condone bad behaviors. It doesn't mean we accept abuse, allow ourselves to be doormats, or place ourselves in harm's way.

It means holding in our minds and hearts the ideals of compassion and acceptance. It means releasing judgments and resentments.

It means desiring to understand, to give the benefit of the doubt, to share, to care, to be considerate of the needs of others.

It means forgiving, letting go of the past. It means role modeling right thought and action for others.

This New Year's Day, if we embrace this one resolution, to respond to the call for love from others with unconditional love, and we practice this every day to the best of our intention, over time we will see benefits in our lives.

Love is all there is. Everything else is a bad dream. If we each do our part to be as loving as we possibly can, to put aside pride, ego, arrogance and self -entitlement, to be of service to others, to put our needs last instead of first, and to find ways to compromise for the greatest good of all concerned, our lives will work better and yield greater rewards, and our world will reflect these changes as well.