What the World Needs NowAugust 1, 2016 1 Comment
Watching intermittent coverage of the Democratic National Convention my heart softened when I heard New Jersey Senator Corey Booker remind those listening that “Patriotism is the love of country, but you can’t love your country if you don’t love your countrymen.” He went on to define love as ‘being there for each other…empowering each other…finding common ground…and building bridges across differences…’ in pursuit of a common goal. He articulated a beautiful and hopeful vision of a nation of love as a free people, living interdependently. Later on during the convention, Broadway stars gathered on stage to sing the American classic, “What the World Needs Now is Love.”
It gave me a feeling of hope, not necessarily in the Party per se, but in the power of love to captivate the collective imaginations of millions of people who believe that another world is possible, and we can make it a better one for all of us.
This morning I woke up to an act of love that gives me even more hope. The Movement for Black Lives (including Black Lives Matter, BYP100, Million Hoodies, Black Out Collective and more) released a policy agenda that puts forth concrete approaches to making this possible world a tangible reality. The #BlackLivesMatter network and others in the Movement for Black Lives have clearly and publicly named Love as core guiding principle of their approach to social justice. The networks involved have been centering their internal work on love, channeling the words of Assata Shakur at the end of every meeting and gathering:
“We have a duty to fight for our freedom. We have a duty to win. We must love and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
These two moments provided a clear understanding of what at its core is the ‘love that does justice’. First of all, it is primarily action, it is not just a sentimental feeling. It involves meeting needs, creating the conditions for self-realization, finding alignment, empowerment, vision, freedom, and connection. Love is a slow burning, powerful, motivating force for justice and liberation. In order to truly build a nation on this type of love, I believe we must take this love-action at the level of the individual, in our interactions with others, in our organizations, groups, and movements, and for the sake of future generations. When we come together, in love, to take just action, our love is amplified beyond what each of us can imagine as individuals. In thinking about this I created a little guided meditation:
Imagine that love exists in each of our hearts as glowing embers of consciousness. When we cultivate that love it spreads and becomes a low flame that embraces us and becomes Self Love or love for ourselves. This is not the narcissistic vanity that is based on self-attraction. Rather, self love looks like self care, personal development and healing. In a system that teaches us that we are unworthy and in constant need of critique and improvement, to love ourselves can be a revolutionary act.
As we cultivate that self love the flame of love burns bigger and brighter and is able to embrace those closest to us. Our colleagues, friends, family, neighbors. Those who we come into close contact with on a regular basis. This love is empathy or compassion and includes caring for each other, listening, sharing and more. Imagine if, in a world that teaches us to be individuals we were able to extend empathy and compassion, listening, sharing to all those whose paths we cross on a day to day basis? What could that look like? The more we extend empathy to others the more the flame of love grows and it begins to embrace other groups, networks and movements. And this love is solidarity. It is love for the sake of liberation, believing that our liberations is tied up in each others’.
As we become increasingly connected across race, class, issue, geography etc. we enable our love to grow and it spreads over time into the future. This love is vision, wishing and imagining and taking action now, for a better world in the future that we may not ourselves ever see or experience.
Love is not limiting rather it has the capacity to expand over time and space, across borders and boundaries. It is limitless, endless and liberating. I want to experience all this love. What the world needs now, is love.