Being in Love with Love

A ways back, Russell Saunders asked the Stupid Tuesday Question, ‘have you ever been friends with someone who you didn’t really like?’ (or something like that). Naturally, the responses were in the affirmative. At one point or another, we have all been friends with people we don’t really like, it would seem. I have certainly been there. I’m still there, sort of.

I was a huge fan of David Ryan’s Thermomixed Up posts that he wrote a year or so ago. However, as much as I enjoyed Thermomixed Up, his new series, Falling Out of Love with Hate, surpasses it. At the risk of offending everyone else here, these are my favourite posts at The League. I am genuinely happy when I see that David has posted a new one.

Recently, he detailed an altercation he had with a fellow at a local Marina. It seemed to come close to violence, and David admitted that he was ready indulge in a good old fistfight. In his most recent post, he has told us of his decision to forego violence, and if he sees the man, he shall introduce himself, shake the man’s hand and attempt to move past previous unpleasantness. This is a testament to David.

Hate is easy. It requires no strength to be angry. Compassion demands more of us than enmity, and forgiveness is steeped in as much courage as the weakness so many think it displays. I do my best to avoid anger these days.

(Of course, my kids like to test me – and I regularly fail).

I can count a number of friends as people with whom I should ardently dislike. Some of these people are in my life because they are within my circle of friends, attend my church or enter my life in some other way. All of them have quite distasteful character flaws. Some have rather grating personalities. I will still count them as friends.

My sister and I used to have a bit of a running joke about our mother. When we would be over at our parent’s house, if my mother had even just a glass of wine, she would start opening up about what she really felt about people. It was quite amusing… well, unless you made eye contact, because then she would turn on you. My mother was one of the nicest people you would meet. Everyone who knew her counted her as a friend (the receiving line after her funeral must have gone on for a good hour and a half, thankfully one of our friends put aside a plate of snacks for us when we were finally able to escape). Still, one might think her public and private actions demonstrated a two-faced-ness. I have wondered about that. And I have wondered about it in myself as I interact with these people with whom I should probably not be friends.

It is immensely fitting that I first met my wife at church, though after our initial meeting it would be six months before we met again and really hit it off (many thanks to my cousin and his jello shooters). I had not been attending church regularly at the time. My lifestyle and work obligations were not conducive to Sunday morning services. However, I still felt quite connected to the church (broadly and narrowly defined).

A couple of years ago, my wife helped organize an event at a local church that brought Jamie Tworkowski of Two Write Love On Her Arms to Ottawa. I was taking care of the little one as this happened, so Darlene was commissioned to bring home a TWLOHA shirt for me. The message on the front of that shirt is ‘”Love is the Movement”. It is a sentiment that has had me entranced since I first read it. It is this message that inspired me to make the late Jack Layton’s message of love the defining image for this blog (photo credit: the wife).

As our life together has progressed, Darlene and I have given more and more thought to living deliberately. Our faith guides us greatly, and is intertwined with so many decisions we make, but it is not the sole source of our inspiration. Our core beliefs pertaining to children, the environment, liberty, sexism and community (among others) shape our decision-making. Through it all, though, is love. Love from God. Love from others. Love for others. Love for ourselves. Love for our community.

On an old blog of mine, I had written mildly disparaging comments about a former colleague. I had not called the person out by name, but she was able to deduce that it was about her (though I don’t think anyone else could have). I had not written it as vengeance, but had used one experience I had with her as a jumping off point to write about management styles. That blog is long dormant, yet this summer I received an email from her suggesting that I needed to take the post down. There was an implication that she might take legal action if I did not.

She had no grounds for legal action, and I was not in the least worried. Further, I did not really like her, and I did not really care what she thought of me. However, my writing on that blog was never meant to cause anyone any harm, and if this caused her harm – if only a bruised ego – I decided to take it down. I emailed her back, saying as much, but also noting that there was absolutely nothing libelous about the post. She thanked me and offered to write me a letter of recommendation any time I needed it.

The people we will meet are amazing, and there’s often no way to know the ways in which they will be so amazing.

There are three people who quickly come to mind when I think of people who would fall into the category, People I Should Not Be Friends With. I have decided that, regardless of all other opinions on their character and actions, I will be friends with them. And it will not be in some two-faced way. I think I will be continuing in the tradition of my mother, in this regard.

We can vehemently dislike the actions of others. We can judge the actions and we can hope that the bad actors will be caught and those against whom they have transgressed will receive some kind of cosmic justice. We can hold all these feelings and still hold out love for them. This is where I’m at, right now. It is not that I don’t care about these men’s transgressions. It is that their transgressions are less than the love I can hold for them.

I have never met Captain David Ryan in person. I do recall an old post of his in which he was not totally comfortable with the way bloggers always refer to each other by first name, as if we’re all buddies hanging out at the blogging club together. Nonetheless, with as much interaction as I have had with him, I like to consider him a friend, if only in the virtual sense. So, as a friend, I am quite proud of the way David is thinking of handling his situation at the marina. He is showing us such a wonderful way to behave. Better still, he is demonstrating the types of faults we all have, and telling us that we can work past them.

I am so glad that he is falling out of love with hate.

Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.


  1. Nice post.

    A wise woman once said that the hardest thing in the world is to picture someone who has wronged you and love them. Sounds like you are well on your way.

  2. I remember a time when I deliberately forgave a person who had wronged me terribly.
    There was a great deal of anger, confusion, and a sense of betrayal in me at the time.
    It was just that I decided that I should live in a more forgiving world rather than a more angry one.
    I have very little effect on the world-at-large, but I have a great deal over the little spot where I happen to be.
    And I chose that that place should be a more forgiving place rather than a more angry place.
    It was a good decision.
    I wish I always had that presence of mind.

  3. I remember once at a conference I was struck with a point someone made in a paper – forgiveness is by definition undeserved. I don’t remember what else he said, but I have thought about that a lot.

    I am not sure I have ever mindfully forgiven anyone. I have done so unmindfully frequently. I don’t get mad easily and tend to put it out of mind relatively quickly. I’m not sure I really could mindfully forgive.

    I guess I don’t live my life aiming at love. I love my husband and children and a few friends. I aim to treat everyone else with respect and patience and sympathy, but not love.

    • “forgiveness is by definition undeserved”

      I’m not sure what this means, Rose. Can I ask you to flesh it out more?

        • Of course. Justice demands equal recompense. Mercy dictates that you relinquish your claim upon recompense. And I ain’t just talking about wergeld, here.

    • I don’t think you have to aim to love universally to aim to love.

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