The Trap Of “But What About…?”

LarrySelfPortrait2-copy-copyOne of the most common responses we hear/read during a discussion about love is the almost universal rebuttal, “But what about…?”

As in, “But what about…

…Radical Islam?

…Bigots?

…Mean-spirited Christians?

…Bitter atheists?

…Jesus getting angry and turning over the tables in the temple?

…The thief who breaks into your home?

…Injustice?

…The fact that the Bible never tells us to be “nice” or “doormats”?

…Trump?

…Obama?

…Republicans?

…Democrats?

…Liberals?

…Conservatives?

…[fill in the blank with anything and everything]?

What I don’t understand about “But what about…?” is that people always seem to be looking for an exception, an out, rather than apply the principle. Why is that?

I think it’s because of fear. I think people are afraid to love.

Love is the abandonment of self – especially selfish desires, of the us-and-them mentality that (ironically) creates the need for love in the first place.

“Only love dispels hate,” reads the Dhammapada.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” reads 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 of the Bible (ESV translation).

Those are scary, scary words. They call for us to set aside our selves (gasp!) for the greater good of others, to bridge chasms – often of our own making – between people. Ergo, the usual responses…

“Only love? Really? But what about…?”

“Patient and kind? Are you kidding me? But what about…?”

“But what about…?”

That’s a trap, a closed loop, that can keep us more concerned with maybes and what-ifs and imagined issues or challenges in the future than about what’s happening right now, in front of us. We could spend days, weeks, years arguing “But what about…?” and turning over potential scenarios in our minds.

And fail to love at all.

So, my response to the “But what about…?” question is always the same:

Try it.

Just love.

Then see what happens.

Worry about the “But what about…?” stuff later. (If at all.)

Right now, just love.

Then, like the directions on a bottle of shampoo, “rinse and repeat.”

It starts now.

It starts with me.

It starts with you.

“But what about…?”

Nope.

Not going there.

Just love.

- Bill

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