Have you ever heard the phrase, “I just love them to death?” It’s a catchy, cute little expression that most people don’t intend to be taken literally. Who wants to love someone to their death? Unfortunately, in the case of enabling, this very thing can happen. When someone “loves” another individual so much they don’t say no to them or help them seek help, they feed their sickness or addiction, which could potentially lead to their death. It doesn’t matter if it’s food or drugs or…the list is endless. When we love someone, we want the best for them; we want to be life-giving.
I’m saddened by the fact that we actually have TV reality shows that showcase people’s illness and the enablers who “love” them. One of the most heartbreaking of these shows is My 600 Pound Life. Each program features someone who is “eating themselves to death” and often times these people are being enabled by family and friends who “love” them and lack the courage to say no to their out-of-control appetite. Another similar program is Hoarders. This program features people whose sickness is collecting “stuff,” while refusing to discard anything due to their obsession. Their homes are unsafe and unlivable, and they are often on the verge of a personal crisis. Their family members often feel hopeless and either ignore the problem or just give up. While intervening in this type of situation must be extremely difficult, love dares to do the difficult, to help breathe life.
Have you ever heard the term, “intervention”? That’s actually the name of another TV program where friends and family members decide they will no longer sit by and watch their loved ones destroy themselves with drugs or food or other things, so they schedule an intervention. The person who is addicted is confronted by those who love them. They love them enough to risk the relationship in order to show them the severity of their behavior, with the goal of getting them to see their need for help. In this case they don’t love them to death; they love them to life. It’s because of their love that they want the sick one to get well and live.
Speaking of sick, America is sick! The junk food that is swallowed comes from the Internet, news outlets, and sadly, even churches and other kinds of institutions that perpetuate hate and division. The messages are toxic, releasing poisonous emotions in the blood stream of our nation. Fear drives many of the messages that stir up anger and worry. Have you heard the term, “I’m worried to death?” or “I’m scared to death?” This describes many people’s attitude about what they witness each day, which can then lead to hopelessness.
Well, it’s time for an intervention! The Love Akron Network loves our nation and our community too much to passively sit by and watch us destroy ourselves from within. There was a musical done in the 80’s called, “America You’re Too Young to Die.” We agree! So instead we are going to love you to life. Loving the City to Life is the theme for our 6th Annual Awards Breakfast. Tuesday, September 26th over 650 people will gather at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron from 7:00-8:30 a.m. (doors open at 6:30 a.m.) to witness what we pray will be an intervention which will call us to love our city to life by choosing love and not hate.
The focus of the morning will be on civility. Being civil seems to be a lost art in our society today, particularly when it comes to politics, race, and religion. Too often we turn the public square into a boxing ring, pounding our ideological opponents into a virtual knockout. Unfortunately, too many cannot empathize with other points of view that may be different than our own. Whatever happened to listening more and showing respect, no matter our differences? The Love Akron Network is on a mission to reset the cultural thermostat in the area of civility in the Greater Akron Area.
Since last year’s general election, the national dialogue has sunk to new lows, and as a result, the negative cultural temperature has soared to new highs. The airwaves and atmosphere are polluted with a smoggy, toxic smugness. To the embarrassment of many of us of deep faith, the faith community has negatively contributed to this “civil war” that is anything but civil. Ask yourself this question.
Do you want to make a point or build a bridge?
Some view the greatest threat to our national security as other hostile nations. Perhaps we should consider instead that, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” We can do better. This is a time for being present with our neighbors, for building bridges of understanding, for treating others as we want to be treated. Akron is well-known as the birthplace of the rubber industry, Alcoholics Anonymous, and LeBron James. Is it possible that a grass roots movement can be birthed, placing Akron on the map for bringing civility to the public square? I can think of no better accolade for a city than to become known as the capital of kindness and respect. We hope to change the dialogue, to begin to build bridges, and to make the point Jesus Christ made when He stated, “A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. We have heard and seen enough death in our neighborhoods. It’s time to love our city to LIFE, and it begins by thinking deeply about how we talk to and treat one another.
Our special speakers, Andrew and Jameel, will share how they have chosen to use circumstances that should have ripped them apart, as tools to bring healing, forgiveness, and wholeness. We will then personally challenge each of us to take the next step in creating a culture of civility in the Greater Akron Area.
The timing of the theme for our banquet could not be better for our city. Tensions have escalated recently due to a number of issues of incivility by community leaders. Our former police chief was forced to resign due to inappropriate behavior, including among other things, using a derogatory word to refer to an officer of color. The division over a recent resolution at Akron City Council which would have changed the national holiday, Columbus Day, to Indigenous Peoples Day, created a firestorm of embarrassing behavior by some of the council members. The resolution was rejected, and the vote was along color lines. Several young people were in the council chamber to observe how government works, so were on hand to experience all of this. What does this say to our children when many of our city leaders are lambasting one another and acting anything but civil? We can do better! We’ve got to do better, and it’s only with God’s help that we can.
If you’d like to join us in Loving the City to Life, there are a limited number of seats available. Head to thebreakfast.loveakron.org to register or call the office at 330-384-8124.
On a positive note, remember Saturday is the Akron Marathon. The blue line has a fresh coat of paint, and several thousand will line up to run in the race. Friends, the Apostle Paul reminds us that the Christian life can be compared to a race. Some day we all will cross the finish line. Let’s all make a commitment that we will finish well, but until then, keep running!