Love, Freedom and CommunityMarch 2, 2010 Leave a comment
In her essay, hooks reminds us of the very purpose of struggle as Dr. King himself defined it: “the end is reconciliation, the end is redemption, the end is the creation of beloved community.” She herself states that “we best learn love as the practice of freedom in the context of community.” We are not alone in this struggle, and there is no aspect of freedom that implies the loosening of our accountability to one another, the call to accountability is actually heightened by freedom.
When I speak of freedom I speak of Mandela’s freedom, and I mean the freedom that was his during thirty years of imprisonment, the freedom that could not be taken away from him even when they kept him in a prison cell. A political project of liberation has to account for the fact that any hope for lasting political freedom – objective, material freedom – is only possible when rooted in this unshakable inner freedom among those who mean to be an integral part of movement.
When I speak of love, I lean on the same definitions hooks is relying on, hooks quotes M. Scott Peck to define love as an act of will, both an intention and an action – as “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another spiritual growth.” There is little about romance here, there is nothing here that invites a release from our mutual responsibilities to one another. Love is instead connected to a discipline of self-expansion, and self-giving. From this perspective it is not so difficult to understand how love can serve as “an ethical foundation for politics.”
This is all to be practiced in the context of community; which is different from saying that we are to talk about love in community, because while talking will be helpful it means nothing without practice. As hooks says, “working within community..we are able to experience joy in struggle.” It is by leading with love that we are able to being to get a taste for the world we are trying to build, we being to live into the possibility of freedom, we make it possible to experience joy even in the context of struggle.
Love snaps us out of a logic of postponement, an ethic of love demands that we understand that how we get there is as important as getting there. When we respond to the call to love as a practice of freedom we are snapped out of the idea that we will have community when we are politically free and demands that we build community in order to become free.