The Counselor's Corner: The disarming power of love


Fred Cavaiani

Tension will always be with us. People can disappoint us. The murder of 50 Muslims in New Zealand and another 48 severely injured in the shooting by a white nationalist is so very disappointing. We become angry and feel so very helpless at times like this. Then to hear that this white nationalist expressed respect for our president as a model for white nationalists’ philosophy. What is this world coming to when people think that the president of one of the most free countries in the world becomes a model for racism and hate? Would I like things to be different? Certainly. Can I change people’s attitudes and how they think and talk? I certainly cannot do this by anger and criticism and looking for the worst in people.
I was watching television about a Muslim man who lost his father in one of the white nationalists’ shootings a couple of years ago. This man decided to meet and dialogue with the head of the white nationalist groups. He acted kindly and they had a meaningful dialogue. I was very impressed while watching this.

The only way we have any power to change the world into a better place is through the disarming power of love. When I treat an angry person with patience, kindness and love I disarm them and lovingly create an atmosphere where anger cannot continue to fester.

The Christian message of “love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you” is not followed very closely. Most every religion will have within it the principle of loving all and doing good to all. But in times of crisis this fundamentally healthy spiritual and psychological principle of loving all is minimized and watered down.

For more than 47 years I have been listening to the pain and hurt of individuals and couples. Those who remain angry do not find happiness. Those who can open up to the best part of themselves, which is to be kind and loving and embrace the pain within themselves, discover the peace that remains.

Anger and war can only be overcome by love and kindness. Political wars will never end by putting down the opposite party. But they will end when each party begins to be loving and kind toward the other party by sticking to positive principles and good will towards each other. Love simply disarms people. The civil rights movement never got strong through the riots of the 60s and 70s. It got strong through Martin Luther King Jr and his non-violent marches. When we stand up to other people in a loving manner, we disarm their anger and negative attitudes.

Picture two angry drivers getting out of their cars and yelling at each other because one caused a minor accident through being inattentive. The argument becomes elevated and out of control when both continue yelling at each other. But what happens when one stays calm, empathic and caring. The angry person calms down and often might even apologize because it takes two to have a fight and now there is only one person angry. When this happens, the anger starts subsiding because there is now no one to blame.

Love will always overcome anger, resentments and criticism. But it takes courage to love. When we sincerely love we become open, honest and broken with our own personal self. We give up condemning and resenting and investing in how others should and must change. Those who love are reflective people who take quiet times each day to deepen their relationship with God and with their philosophy and theology of life.

Investing in criticism of others, resentment and condemnation weakens us and gives others free reign of negativity in our minds and hearts. This negativity sends out a negativity into the world that only makes life more tense and frustrating.

To bring love to everyone helps us to remain positive, hopeful and grateful. It also puts us into a positive and loving attitude. This attitude disarms other people.

The biggest and permanent changes in history have always resulted from those who put love first. Wars and killings result from those who run away from love and are afraid to embrace their own hurt and pain.

When we have the courage to be loving we can always make our part of the world a better place.

I will never forget when John McCain was running for president against Barack Obama. A woman in the audience made a racist statement about Muslims and stated that Mr. Obama was Muslim. John McCain could have ignored this statement and used it to his own advantage. Instead he stood up to this person in a caring manner, stated that Mr. Obama was a good person though they saw things differently and that there is no place to speak ill of someone else. He did this lovingly and respectfully. I have never forgotten this.

I also never forgot many years ago a friend of mine marching in Selma, Alabama, with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He told me a story of what he observed. A white nationalist ran out to one of the marchers and burnt his face with a cigarette lighter. This man did not fight back and reached out in loving kindness to this man. This white nationalist man joined the March. He had been disarmed by love.

So often I want to be angry with those who think differently from me. To invest in anger is useless. To invest in love and look for the goodness in others is hopeful and encouraging and puts me into a higher plane of living.

The old message is so profoundly wise and encouraging: “God is Love, and he (or she) who lives in Love, lives in Love and God lives in him(her).” It is the most powerful weapon in the world. “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is