I’ve often discussed the fact that in order to change and improve the world, we need to find a way to change hearts…one heartbeat at a time. But how to do it is the difficult part of the process. It seems simple enough, but so far it has never been accomplished in a way that is universal and has lasting effect. We know that individuals can change their hearts and become loving and caring people virtually in an instant, but no one has ever determined a way to convince the world’s people to do this in unison – to renounce violence and personal selfishness – and embrace love. Changing hearts and embracing love is the most pressing need for our world today, as it has been from the dawn of human history; so this series of articles will attempt to visualize a way to change hearts and change the world…one heartbeat at a time.
Since I believe the answer to bringing peace to the world is through changing people’s hearts, the first step in finding an answer has to focus on what the human heart is able to hold within it. In order to change a single human heart, it seems that the heart must first be emptied of the contents it currently holds – and replaced with the contents that will lead the heart to embrace love. All of the world’s religions seem to embrace at their core some version of the, “Golden Rule” to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves; yet that concept seems so hard to practice in reality. What is it that the heart holds that keeps us all from loving one another in the purest and most noble of ways?
A quick Google search in Wikipedia offers a detailed article called the, “Seven deadly sins” which provides various lists of the negative aspects of what the hearts of mankind are capable of containing: “wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony;” that may then become manifested through our behavior – because our heart contains the essence of what is our very nature. As humans our true nature can be masked for a while, but it is our true nature that eventually rises to the surface.
Another Wikipedia article details the, “Seven virtues” or, “Seven Heavenly Virtues” – which are: “chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility.”
The same article in Wikipedia on the, “Seven virtues” goes on to list the specific Catholic catechism’s list as: “the four cardinal virtues of: prudence, justice, restraint or temperance and courage or fortitude and the three theological virtues of: faith, hope and charity.”
Yet another Wikipedia article titled the, “Fruit of the Holy Spirit” lists from, Galatians 5:22-23, NIV: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
I reference Wikipedia here because it is both an acceptable neutral reference for most people, and it has already consolidated the information that I want to emphasize here. There are many other references that can be used as well to describe the human heart, in both secular and theological terms, but the ones that I’ve listed here will be my starting point for this discussion. The pressing question is how to replace the negative traits of the human heart with the noble aspects of humanity? The nature of mankind applies equally to those who profess faith and to those who are atheists or agnostics, because examples throughout history can be shown to support either side as: loving and peaceful or evil and hateful. Part Two in this series will continue the exploration of the human heart in an attempt to find a way to replace hate with love, anger with kindness, and selfishness with selflessness. For the sake of all the hearts of our world, let’s find a way together to fill the world to overflowing…with love.