All We Need is Love

Sometimes life is reduced to cliches.

You don’t know how much you love what you have until you lose it. All we need is love. Money can’t buy you love.

My friend asks her three beautiful children, all under the age of ten, the usual. ‘Who do we love?’ They all answer, ‘Hulum Sew Hulu Bota’. Every person, everywhere.

This message is particularly important in the case of this unique family as the children are the products of an inter-faith relationship. I believe that their mother is doing a great job in helping foster empathy for others – all others – in her children in their formative years. The instruction to love is easier said than done but I have taken its simple message and made it my new mantra. It has not only brought joy into my life, but also enabled my communication with the world. Most importantly, it has provided me with an enduring sense of peace because love sheds a clear light on my path that leaves little room for resentment or conflict.

So what does it mean to love? I like the definition of love that is presented in the Christian Holy Bible:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8New International Version (NIV)

If we practice love, I strongly believe that this would be the beginning of the path to freedom. There is a lot that if allowed, could derail us from the joyful lives we are born to lead but a path of love can create great peace with the world. Think about it, what problem is there in this world whose antidote is not love? Start small. Think of every person who has ever let you down. Watch how your breath quickens and anger rises in you when you reflect on that disappointment or injustice. Now step outside yourself for a minute, recognize that it is your ego that has been harmed, and not you, and find it within yourself to send love to that person to help her heal the wounded place from which she hurt you. After all, it takes two to fight, and you always have the choice of walking away, literally, and emotionally. The small mind-trick I employ to love away pain and disappointment is to visualize a group of white small doves taking off in flight in the direction of the person who has hurt me, wishing them well and letting them go.

Now let’s take this practice of love to the wider world. There is no conflict in the world that does not come from the ego, from that need to be ‘right’ and the other to be ‘wrong.’ The practice of love teaches us that the world is not so black-and-white.   There is a lot more that draws us together than pulls us apart, if we see the world through a prism of love.

Imagine if all parents treated the children we currently pass on the street without a second glance the way we treat our own children. Imagine the transformative power of all the children of the world, loved. My son Leeben is nearly three years old. Because he has yet to experience maltreatment, he loves everyone and everything. All children he meets are ‘Guadegna’, and if I let him, he would kiss dogs on the street. Last week, I put him into a swimming pool with an instructor he’s never seen before. I readied myself for his refusal or at least some apprehension, but my boy put his pudgy arms around the man whose name we never found out, fully trusting this man to keep him afloat and safe. Imagine if we all lived such unafraid lives; the positive energy that would be unleashed upon the world.

Parents, and I would argue mothers in particular NEED to practice love. We all want to be good parents, and we instinctively recognize that giving our children love is as important as looking after their physical needs. And as the wonderful Brene Brown argues, we can’t give the love we don’t have. Furthermore, Brown believes that it is a fallacy to claim that we love our children more than we love ourselves. We can only love them out of our existing supply of love which must extend to our own beings first, before it can reach others.

When I started practicing love with not only others but also with myself, it necessitated acceptance of all my flaws and faults, as well as the creation of a brand new love affair with myself. I LOVE myself. A lot. I love how chaotic I can get as I run down the staircase in the morning, always the last one in the car, scarf trailing behind me. I love how I can meet a deadline at the last possible second and how many times a week I completely run out of money. I love how loud I play my music and that my kids sing along as off-key but as happily as I do. I love that I forgive myself, every day, for transgressions, small and large, because, what choice do I have? I have to love myself if I am going to love my children, and the world into which I have delivered them.