Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.
Somewhere between 1564 and 1616, Shakespeare wrote the words above. If I were to read between his lines, I would suggest he was advising us to lead with love. Given his intent, in the 404 years since his death, we are still missing his message. As a species, humanity is far better versed at instilling and believing in fear than at embracing and expressing love. And, as our global politics demonstrate, we cling to fear like kittens clutching a window screen. The obvious question emerges. How can we keep doing the same thing (i.e., poisoning the earth and bombing each other) while hoping for a different result? Isn’t this the epitome of insanity?
What appears even crazier is when a voice of reason is snubbed. Marianne Williamson, former U.S. 2020 Presidential candidate, pledged to bring love back into our personal, economic and political relations. Author and spiritual leader, Williamson, was dubbed by the punduts as naive and never garnered the American support she needed to remain in the race. I for one have a sad heart and am confused and troubled by the authoritarian direction of populist politics. It is contrary to what my heart wants and what historically most nations have fought against.
As I stated, I am confused. Particularly, when I consider the two sets of statistics outlined below. The first column is based on valuing happiness* while the second column is based on valuing basic human needs, wellbeing and opportunity**
Finland New Zealand & Iceland
Norway United Kingdom
New Zealand Denmark
* based on the “Cantril ladder” 6 values: income (GDP per capita), healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust (absence of corruption), generosity.
** based on the “Social Progress Index”
Although the ranking varies between the two lists, fundamentally the countries are the same. I think it is fair to conclude that “loving kindness” is contained within the values of the Cantril ladder and the Social Progress indices. And to even further extrapolate, isn’t love what we are all seeking, in some cases more desperately than others? If you don’t think this is the case, why raise our children and our pets to be loving.
IMHO, there is something deep within each of us that knows “love is the answer.” The problem is our own lack of awareness and lack of skill. In every value clarification exercise I conducted over the past 30 years (with individuals and groups), love always made the top 10 if not the top three. However, love, like any other calling, requires skill, and we as a species do not practice the skill we preach.
It is not enough to love only those in one’s inner circle, those we trust and willingly give second and even third chances. Our intuition knows that love is not conditional or bound by arbitrary dividing lines. We must extend our love to include all beings. Practicing love has far greater considerations than only one’s immediate or extended family.
To truly practice and know love takes us beyond our current household into the subsequent seven generations of community, nation, planet and universe. Here is where we fall short and where our lessons on love are contained. May 2020’s clear seeing resolve in us to love all that is. What could your 2020 practice of love include?
What is love?
Is it nature’s beauty
unsullied by human hands
when left to its own devices?
Is it an “Aha” breaking through
a cacophony of thought
to present its own riddle?
Is it the courage
to step into the hero’s journey
and seek without wanting?
Is it the shedding
of accumulated knowledge
upon discovering nothing is as it seems?
Is it letting go of grasping
for the future while holding to the past
and trusting life’s process in this moment?
Or, is it the sight of big-horned sheep
perched effortlessly at the edge of comfort
to savour the chin scratch of human touch?
A little to the left, please.