Sunday, 15 November 2015

What your ability to love says about you

The latest attacks in Paris are a perfect example of  those filled with hatred instead of love. In a world where every news item is literally about death and destruction, it is hard to imagine John Lennon's world 'living as one'. The opposite of hatred is love, not self love but an altogether altruistic type of love. Love of others and their well being, doing things out of love and not expecting reward, being a person whose actions are always an expression of love. Romantic love is what we see in the movies but we forget that  love is a verb - to love- not a noun- self-love.

When people do bad things they are metaphorically screaming at the top of their lungs that they hate life and everyone in it. It is easy to become bitter, twisted and spiteful when things don't go our way or when others hurt and offend us but the truth is human beings are born with an innate ability to love. We smile unlike other species and we laugh. We feel things emotionally which we express verbally and physically but the process of deciphering thoughts and emotion is again unique to humans. Our brains are wired to experience sensory pleasure- food, sex, even titillating the brain through humour. Our make up enables us to love and hate in equal measure but choosing love over hatred takes wisdom and understanding. It is also surprisingly simple. Have you smiled recently at a complete stranger? Have you offered to help someone find their lost dog? Have you asked the disabled gentleman in a wheelchair wanting to cross the road if you can help him? Have you stopped to ask that young lady weeping on a park bench if she's OK? In other words, have you extended yourself to others out of love for your fellow human beings?

Although loving is simple, having the courage to do so is harder. We are all dancing as fast as we can while juggling the requirements of being employee, boss, mother, father, lover, mentor, tutor, friend, the list goes on. Many times, we hurry on past others claiming we are too busy to stop- the word 'busy' a convenient excuse for not caring enough to enquire after another or even spend five minutes exchanging pleasantries however pointless they might seem. Just chatting about the weather may be the only conversation that little old lady has had all day. Twenty-first century living has turned us into selfish egomaniacs where we place ourselves at the center of the universe. We are the axis on which the world turns and we treat everyone as a convenience who we discard at will like the packaging of our ready-made pizza. The rank disregard that we show others is why hatred has taken prime position on a world scale. We have grown so used to dispatching each other as we prioritise what we consider important that along the way, the cancer of hatred has metastasised. There will come a time when we may not even remember what love is. Those people already exist and they're making a very sick point by hurting others: that they don't care enough to stop, that they have forgotten how to love.

When we stop being able to love we abandon what it is to be human.We are already becoming dehumanised as we are already essentially desensitised to perversity and violence: television and feature films are becoming more explicit in an excess of everything in order to satiate audiences worldwide. What was once taboo is now the norm. Makers of commercial films know their audiences and what they want to see. Is it any wonder that some of the highest grossing movie franchises in recent years that none of them is about love? Look at the stratospheric popularity of violent video games, for example, beloved by lonely, young men the world over.  Children freely watch pornography which has replaced cartoons before the school run. There is a certain inevitability from using TV to control a restless child and for that child to equate an absence of independent thought with real life. Not only is our lust for instant gratification a form of hunger, the more we give in to it, the more we crave it.

If we want a better world, we need to re-learn how to carry out random acts of love. Smile. Say nice things only. Say hello and thank you as if it were the mantra to change the world. Offer to help even if the stress and inconvenience will mess up our plans. Extend ourselves beyond our personal bubble. Let others in. Listen to their stories. To love is to admire and marvel at every human experience, to see past ourselves for once. In the process of acting out of love, we can strike gold- that perfect balance borne out of love is peace. The whole world needs love now and more than ever. So what are we waiting for?

The sweetest irony in offering love is that we find ourselves in the process. A calmness and refusal to be enslaved by strong emotions, gimmickry, harmful ideology or false prophets overwhelms a peaceful mind- the utopia that we seek our entire lives is actually who we were always meant to be.

 Woldingham, Surrey. A most perfect place. Photo copyright SvD.

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