Revolutionaries Guided by Great Love
Well, it's the day before Valentine's Day, and my thoughts have turned towards love; after all, love is the strongest force in the universe. Love is integral to profound social change work. As we work together to build the world anew, love informs our visions and fuels our actions. If we want to live in a world that holds the values of love, truth and beauty as central tenets of our creed, then we must open to love here and now, with each other and ourselves.
Of course it was Che Guevara who said, "At the risk of sounding ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by feelings of love."
Which is not unlike Buddha saying, "The thought manifests as the word. The word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit. And the habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care. And let it spring from love, born out of concern for all beings."
So what does a world that values love and compassion look like? As we envision, manifest and build the world, how do we reflect love and compassion both in the making and in the result?
Albert Einstein said, "You cannot love a car the way you love a horse. The horse brings out human feelings the way machines cannot do. Things like machines may develop or neglect certain things in people ... Machines make our life impersonal and stultify certain elements in us and create an impersonal environment....
I believe that the horrifying deterioration in the ethical conduct of people today stems from the mechanization and dehumanization of our lives - the disastrous by-product of the scientific and technical mentality. Nostra culpa. Man grows cold faster than the planet he inhabits."
Current mainstream US culture is based on unsustainable practices of the exploitation of workers and the earth's resources, and sees various levels of alienation as normal. Many live lives disconnected from ourselves, each other, and our sense of place. Few people in this country can truly say that they love the work they are paid to do. It is not common to hang out with neighbors. Divisions of class, race, gender expression & sexuality, set the stage for continuing alienation. In an economy where love is seen as a guiding value, how do these things change?
Let's look at an example of agriculture--- in the typical agri-business model of today, large corporations employ people to manage and oversee production of mono-culture crops. Many more people are used to work the land, applying poisons to curb pests, to which mono-culture crops are particularly susceptible. The produce is grown to maximize uniformity of shape for easy shipping, and shelf-life for better storage. After a harvest, if the produce is aimed at a retail consumer level, it will be shipped to warehouses, and eventually transported to the grocery store. As a consumer, you walk into the produce section, select, say a red delicious apple, never knowing a thing about where it came from, or who's hands helped to grow it. It's likely to have traveled hundreds, if not thousands of miles from the place it was grown and harvested to the store in which you bought it.
How does that look different in a culture that springs from love, born out of concern for all things?
Let's compare with a neighborhood farm, wherein the worker's are treated fairly,and all share in the profit, seeing that all worker's contribute to the success of the farm. The people engaged in the growing of the food understand the complex relationships involved in that growing-- the soil, insects, birds, etc. and all are taken into consideration in
growing techniques. The earth is honored as the abundant provider, and not subdued and poisoned into a sterile incubator. The farm is an integrated part of the local economy, and food strains are grown for excellent flavor and texture, over shipping and shelf life. The farmers then sell the produce at a farmer's market, where the consumer can get to know them, and give feedback about their tastes and preferences.
We could apply this same basic scenario to most occupations--- manufacturing, health care, construction.
What does that have to do with love? Everything!
In each act of our lives, we change the world just a little. How different our world can look if we open ourselves to being guided by love, and act accordingly.
What can love teach us as we engage in radical social change? How can love inspire and energize us in our work as revolutionaries and social change workers. Love is the strongest force in the universe, inspiring beauty, tenderness, creativity, and life itself. How can we let love guide us in our work to re-make the world that upholds values of joy,
freedom, egalitarianism, and peace? What can love teach us?
Of course, love can also be the force that guides us to declare "Enough!" It can fuel our work against injustice. Love sometimes manifests fiercely, think of the protective nature of a mama bear.
If your heart is closed--and it's gate is barricaded with the weapons of cynicism and sarcasm-- how do you start to open it? The antithesis of love is apathy... what are your ideas to help yourself and others break through the numbing, to care deeply, to feel and empathize at a core level?
This Valentine's Day, let your friends and family know that you love them.
Each and everyday, let your love shine forth, guiding your thought and deed, as we work together to re-make our world.
Go forth and love boldly, without shame or apology.
I love you.