A month and a half ago, my iPhone was stolen from right in front of me. A mobile phone is a small, relatively insignificant thing, but I learned a lot from the experience. Not just about myself, but about people. I posted about it on my Facebook page, and the response was overwhelming. Here’s what I posted:

My phone was stolen tonight by a man who reached around from the booth behind me, grabbed my phone, and ran. He had a friend outside waiting in a car. Despite our best efforts, my friends and I couldn’t catch him before they drove off (but thanks for the workout, fellas!)

I am not at all upset about having my phone stolen. My heart goes out to the guy who stole it, though. I can only imagine what circumstances in his life have driven him to be a petty thief (in well-lit, security camera-covered restaurants/adjoining gas stations, no less). Worse, he has chosen to live a life that is victim to those circumstances. I’m not a victim here – I’ll be fine. He’s the real victim, and I hope that he will one day take ownership of his life and create a life worth living according to his wildest hopes and dreams.

Playing the role of victim is a choice, even if we’re not aware of the option to choose differently. We, as a species, will evolve when we make it our mission to raise up and hold capable all of our fellow men and women. I don’t wish that this man will go to prison (unless that’s what it takes for him to have a wake-up call). I do, however, wish that he be loved.

What surprised me was how surprised most people were at what I posted. I’m lucky to be surrounded by positive, uplifting people – even on Facebook – but the truth is that most people would’ve been angry. They might have lashed out at the anonymous thief, wishing them some sort of punishment.

We (myself included) are so quick to make people wrong. We actually seek to see people punished. One tweet or Facebook post about someone SUSPECTED of child molestation can evoke all sorts of vitriol.

My question is this: where is the love? All criminals – including the ones who commit sex crimes – are still human beings. They did not find themselves in the position they’re in because they set out one day, deciding to be bad people. We, as their fellow men and women, let them down.

If we set a context in our society of complete, unabashed, out-loud, over-the-top love, we would not find so many members of our society forgetting to act from love. We also might discover that we are suddenly in ownership of the ways in which our society fails our most vulnerable comrades. People at the top and bottom of the income scale would be less likely to intentionally hurt someone, and we all would be invested in making sure that our people are not set up to lose in situations where they feel the only way out is to commit a crime.

The guy who stole my phone probably made a couple hundred bucks. By now, it’s probably in use by someone who has no idea that they’re holding stolen property. And I’m totally okay with that. In fact, I really hope he got the most that he could out of it, and that he used the money to feed himself or his family. The possibility that he might have spent that money on drugs hurts me only because his untreated addiction is just another way that our society has failed him.

So, I throw the ball into your court. How can you give love in a way that you wouldn’t otherwise? Who can you go out of your way to make a difference with today, and every day? You never know whose life you can course correct, just by giving your love away. Perhaps even your own.