“Love can turn curses into blessings. It is the only force capable of defeating hate. Love heals the wounds of the world.”
Maimonides, a 12th century philosopher (and so much more) made the above statement. His words carry so much weight, and I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on their substance and meaning.
I have often thought and said that love is so much stronger of an emotion than hate. If used appropriately, love is the greatest force known to mankind; while hate destroys and breaks things down, love has the unique ability to heal, build, and restore.
The question I have been pondering is: What exactly is love? To most, love is a feeling, however, what I would like to suggest is that love is actually an action– and a very subjective action at that.
With love being such a subjective action, to whom do we turn to when we want to learn how to be better at it? Who do we seek to emulate as the ultimate force and example of love? Additionally, how do we discern when we are loving for the right, and even possibly the wrong reasons?
Last week, I spoke about love for our children, and how sometimes the best way we can demonstrate our love for someone is by saying ‘no’. While there are certainly some differences in how we show our love for different people in our lives, there are absolutely some core tenets of love that remain the same across the spectrum.
In my perspective, love between lovers can be best defined as a sort of humble vulnerability. When we are able to be humble and vulnerable with our partners, and give them the gift of listening without judgment, we are in effect granting them the space to be themselves, to breathe, and to genuinely be seen. In a truly loving relationship, we provide a space for each partner to voice their wants and needs without any fear of resentment, judgement, or retribution.
Now that we’ve defined what a loving relationship looks like, how does this translate into love toward society? On that point, what exactly is love toward society, and what does love toward the world even look like? Finally, how do we demonstrate love toward those with opposing views– and even toward our enemies and those who wish to hurt us?
Recently, I sat down, and I had a conversation with love. I asked “Who are you– and what are your directions?” Love showed up for me as a saintly older man, who I choose to call the father that I always wished I had. He hugs me when I am sad, he guides me and teaches me, and he encourages me in all that I do. However, he also calls me out when I have gone astray, and he redirects me when I am not living in congruence with my moral and ethical beliefs. When I fail to hear the subtle messages he seeks to convey to me, he even knocks me down so that I am forced to pay attention. Lastly, he tells me that love does not mean to turn the other cheek, or to dismiss those who have harmed me and the people I love. However, he does tell me to stop wasting my time on hate, and to invest that energy into making myself and the world around me into a better place. Love told me that resentments and anger– while needing to be acknowledged and addressed– ultimately only end up serving to hurt me.
And, so I wonder: How do you define love? Do you believe we must find love for all? Is love an attribute or an action– to be worked on or aspired to? Finally, how do you find love for someone you have resentment or hatred for?
A motto that I choose to live by– and that I would love for you to contemplate is: “If I am not for myself, then who is for me, and if I am only for myself, then who am I? And if not now, then when?”
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love