Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence. Erich Fromm
The number one problem we face as a community is disengagement. There is constant communication, but its superficial - lacking in depth, love and vulnerability. We tend to avoid openhearted connections and conversations within our home, our surroundings and work environments.
Over the past few months I have not been sleeping well, nor been at ease in my spirit. I came to the realization that my restlessness and the increasingly hollowed-out feeling, was not entirely due to the collective stress of our beloved Nation. Albeit in the forefront of my mind. Something more serious was happening, obliviously I had become increasingly disconnected from others and the lovelessness of the world had been leaching into my life. Wholeheartedness had dissipated.
Who Are The Wholehearted Ones?
It all starts within. Once in a while you come across people who are different.
Engaging in a conversation with them is breathing in fresh air. The ones that wake up in the morning and say, "yes I know what society expects of me but actually... I am enough. I will not allow anyone to pressurize me into self doubt and wither into insecurity due to cultural expectations." This comes from a place of living wholehearted. Self-acceptance and self-love are at the heart of wholeheartedness, and with most adults, it will require practice and conscious effort to achieve. Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. From there we can extend the same level of compassion to others.
Society has become ueber judgmental and opinionated to the extent where it believes keeping up its guard is safe, and vulnerability is seen as a massive weakness. Because we are so guarded and believe vulnerability is a weakness, its much easier to be disconnected. In fact, not even trying to understand what love is. Brenè Brown gives a good definition of love when she explains it like this:
We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known. And when we honour the spiritual connection with trust, respect, kindness and affection. It’s not something we give or get. It’s something we grow. It can only be cultivated between 2 people if it exists within ourselves first. We can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Love comes from within us. Brenè Brown
In her book All About Love, Bell Hooks writes,
Taught to believe that the mind, not the heart, is the seat of learning, many of us believe that to speak of love with any emotional intensity means we will be perceived as weak and irrational. And it is especially hard to speak of love when what we have to say calls attention to the fact that lovelessness is more common than love, that many of us are not sure what we mean when we talk of love or how to express love.
Everyone wants to know more about love. We want to know what it means to love, what we can do in our everyday lives to love and be loved. We want to know how to seduce those among us who remain wedded to lovelessness and open the door to their hearts to let love
enter. The strength of our desire does not change the power of our cultural uncertainty. Action and living in vulnerability does.
Yes, the country is suffering from traumatic levels of lovelessness right now, our economy is taking a dive, poverty rate is increasing which is perpetuating Gender Based Violence amidst a mass of social issues. But what really brought me to my knees these past few months was how susceptible I was to allowing lovelessness into my own response to our collective pain. As I started to untangle everything I was feeling, I realized that over the past few months, I had unknowingly turned away from love—the only fuel source that really works for me. Instead of being fueled by love, I unconsciously had turned to anger, contempt, self-righteousness. Its clear to me that the world is functioning without love. If love is not the fuel of human society then what is our community running off?
What to do when lovelessness seeps in
I don’t claim to know what fuel works best for everyone, but what I know for sure is that I believe in love’s promise and I run best on love. For me, love is sustainable, renewable, and it burns clean. That doesn’t mean I don’t get angry. Anger is a soul-sucking lifetime companion, but it’s also a great catalyst for two of the courageous, truest forms of love: justice and integrity.
Even though there are a million things that need to change, we all need to rest sometimes—even when there’s still a ton of work to do. Burnout drives lovelessness.
For me, self-love is making and taking the time to create. I can’t live a love ethic if I’m not photographing, gardening and propagating. Creativity is who I am and how I’m wired.
When the world feels tough and disconnected, I need to sink into the softness and connection of my family and friends. Family is my love ethic. Sometimes, my go-to is to try to get tougher and even more disconnected than the world so I can fight back. It doesn’t work, and it actually feeds that domination pattern.
If I'm angry, I need to make sure my anger is a catalyst born of love, not justification for causing pain when I’m in pain.
I want to get involved in our non profit organization and in our communities—an ethic that informs how we show up with each other, serve others, and cultivate belonging. Lovelessness corrodes organizational culture. We need love wherever there are humans.
I need deeper, more meaningful spiritual connection. I need to rekindle things with God in some way that makes sense for me. Maybe I’ll take a walk and meditate again, or renew my Daily devotion habit.
I’m going to live into my values and stand up for what I believe in from a place of love. And I’m not talking about rainbow and unicorn love. I’m talking about learning how to stay fueled by a mature, radical, change-the-world kind of love when disdain, judgment, and contempt are so much easier and when fear is seducing me into staying quiet.
“Refusal to stand up for what you believe in, weakens individual morality and ethics as well as those of the culture. No wonder then that we are a nation of people, the majority of whom, across race, class, and gender, claim to be religious, claim to believe in the divine power of love, and yet collectively remain unable to embrace a love ethic and allow it to guide behavior, especially if doing so would mean supporting radical change. Fear of radical changes leads many citizens of our nation to betray their minds and hearts.”
I’ll take radical change over betraying my mind and heart every time.
It’s Mandela Day on Monday.
And he was undeniably a legend who portrayed living wholeheartedly. There is such a magic about Madiba. Who he was, what he did, how he made people feel. A leader not a politician, he was a human being who had a remarkable knack of connecting with every single person in any level of society.
Becoming wholehearted demands that we stay awake to the struggle in the world and keep fighting for justice and peace, while also cultivating a love ethic in our own lives.
I’m back and I’m here to love big, have fun, cultivate joy, and fight hard.