A Healthy Heart Comes from Loving Others

This post was originally published on my blog at Muses of a Mom on February 8, 2021, but republished here with additional information.

We know February as the month of love, with Valentine’s Day celebrated on the 14th. But February spotlights two different — yet similar — commemorations during this month of love: Black History Month and American Heart Month. 

Photo by Bart LaRue on Unsplash

American Heart Month focuses on the best ways to maintain a healthy heart that allows us to live longer. Learning about African American History teaches us to understand their continued adversities and grow kinder, compassionate hearts as a result.  

There doesn’t appear to be many happy, healthy hearts today. There is a lot of divisiveness, hatred, and bias. It is especially unfortunate how much prejudice and discrimination still happens in America. We haven’t seemed to learn from our history.

We are aware of African American slavery in the United States. Yet, there was also discrimination against other people who wanted to come to the U.S. 

One and a half million Irish escaped Ireland in the mid 19th century, emigrating to the United States due to the Potato Famine. (1) But the Irish were mistreated in America and could only find jobs no one else would do. If rich people in cities didn’t have a black servant, they often had an Irish one. (2) Any better jobs were advertised often as, “Irish need not apply.” They were called dirty, diseased, and seen as black. (3)

The Chinese arrived in the United States at about the same time because of the Opium Wars. They also suffered persecution in America — considered pagans because of their religion, and called “uncivilized, unclean, filthy beyond all conception, without any of the high domestic or social relations.” (4) To prevent the Chinese from becoming like the “Negro” and the “Indian,” deportation and exclusion were chosen remedies. (5)

During World War 2, six million Jews, thought of as inferior to Hitler’s dream of an Aryan race, were imprisoned in concentration camps and eventually killed. However, what we didn’t learn in history class about World War 2 was America’s continued racism against Asian peoples, this time the Japanese. During The Japanese-American internment, the U.S. War Department imposed forced relocation of thousands of Japanese Americans to detention camps. This was a measure taken in case any of the Japanese were spies; however, there was a lack of hard evidence to support that view.

The Irish, Chinese, and Japanese couldn’t physically protest or complain – they were afraid of being deported. They somehow persevered through unfair treatment from the government and other people.

But the longest time of American racism would be against African Americans, beginning with slavery and weaving through most of America’s history to today.

For a healthy heart, we must also do better to “love our neighbor.” (Matthew 22:39)

Who is our neighbor? That’s what one young lawyer once asked Jesus. Instead of a direct answer, Jesus told a parable, the one we call The Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:25-37)

Some background: During this time, the Pharisees, the day’s religious Jewish leaders, discriminated against the Samaritans because they were half-Jew, half-Gentile (anyone not a Jew). The Samaritans were regulated in their own area north of Jerusalem. Jews would go out of their way not to travel through the area where Samaritans lived so they could avoid contact with them. 

Jesus tells his story about two Jews, one a priest and the other a Levite, who passed by a beaten, desperate traveler. Neither helped. The one who stopped to help? A Samaritan. When finished, Jesus asked: “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The young lawyer correctly replied, “The one who had mercy on him.

The parable’s purpose was to draw “a strong contrast between those who knew the law and those who actually followed the law in their lifestyle and conduct.” (7) Remember, the Jews really disliked the Samaritans. You can bet they did not like this story!

Jesus told the young lawyer to “go and do likewise.” Simply, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7:12) We aren’t to just know what is right. We are to put it into practice!

God loves all of us. He doesn’t see color or race. He created us – we are all in the image of our Father God! (Colossians 3:10) If you believe in God and love God, you are also to love your neighbor because “anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love.” (1 John 4:8) We are liars if we claim to love God yet hate others. “For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20)

Good heart health includes loving others. We need to see others as God sees us – no races, just one people.

Celebrate this month of love by learning good heart health and how to better love our neighbors. Start with discovering more about our fellow black Americans and the contributions they have made to our country. Black History Month “celebrates the contributions that African Americans have made to American history in their struggles for freedom and equality and deepens our understanding of our Nation’s history.” (6).

The best heart health you can have starts with you. 

Resources used for this post:

1.  Constitutional Rights Foundation –The Potato Famine and Irish Immigration to America
 Career Trend – What Types of Jobs Did Irish Immigrants Get?
  Journal of Global Cultural Studies – The Irish, see paragraph #5
  Journal of Global Cultural Studies – The Chinese, see paragraph #13
  Journal of Global Cultural Studies – The Chinese, see paragraph #14
  Library of Congress – African American History Month
GotQuestions.org – What is the Meaning of the Parable of the Good Samaritan

6 responses to “A Healthy Heart Comes from Loving Others”

  1. Very sweet tie-in about heart health! For homeschoolers and black history, I would suggest looking for things like, “what we still don't know about black history.” I say that because I took a black history course in college and my son is doing so now, and his teacher did so in between the two of us and every time, there has been new discoveries. Lies have been told about who actually created what, built what, did what, etc. We still don't know it all, unfortunately. Black history month often focuses mostly on brave slaves, and the underground railroad, but there is a heck of a lot more to know than that. Thanks for your post!

  2. What a beautiful and heartfelt article (no pun intended.) I love how you pulled all the themes together. My favorite line was this one: I want to see others as God sees us – no races, just one people. I believe this is the only way forward from here.

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