This article is for information only and doesn’t call for any action.
What is “love?” We hear about it, talk about it, dream about it, long for it, fight for it and die from the absence of it. We are told time and time again to “come from love,” “be love” and “keep love in our hearts.” And we are told that hate is the opposite.
Many of us can describe feelings of love that are similar, and yet, there are still areas where we do not see eye-to-eye regarding how love “should” be expressed. Sure, there are hugs and kisses and gazing into one another’s eyes, but then there is also “turning towards each other in love” versus abandoning those who don’t do love properly. Meaning, there is a judgment that if someone is angry, in pain and talking about experiences they have had as a victim, they have not evolved.
“Love” is a word.
In language, we create words to label and describe. As humans, we tend to be very self-centered and believe that our experience is the only experience. We believe that how we express and experience love is the only correct way. And, this could not be farther from the truth.
I get that many of us can see past this, and yet we still get stuck. Gary Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages,” is such a valuable tool, in that it easily and effectively demonstrates how two people can give and receive love very differently. I always have the couples I coach investigate what their love languages are, and often the results are eye-opening and transformational for them.
Just knowing they express and interpret love differently, opens so many doors for them to understand and provide for each other. It is really beautiful seeing the lights go on as they realize how they have misunderstood each other and can now see a path to deeper fulfillment.
Then there are the places where that understanding does not happen.
As humans who are wired for survival, we consider one of our biggest threats to be being made wrong. We carry so much fear of shame and guilt because we have been made to feel ashamed and guilty, so anything that resembles the possibility of more of that can shut us down to other options.
In large part, we have not been taught how to communicate; we have been taught to debate. And so we revel in the opportunity to use one’s words against them. In relationships, this can be very painful. In communities, this can cause a great deal of harm.
My most recent experience with this, the experience that prompted me to share my thoughts here, involves the discussion regarding race issues.
In one instance, Marianne Williamson, an author and public speaker who has been giving weekly lectures based on the book “A Course In Miracles” for years, recently announced she is considering running for President in 2020. While I had been a regular attendee to her lectures and had some profound personal interactions with her many years ago, I recognize why her announcement has been polarizing. In short, her relationship with the Black/Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) in the United States has been problematic.
I first became aware of this earlier this year, in the Spring of 2018. Marianne was a part of an Urban Priestess Summit, which lacked diversity. When questioned about this on her Facebook page, instead of listening and considering, she became defensive. She negated the people posing questions and denied the lack of diversity when all we had to do was look at the white faces of the presenters. This and other similar interactions, lead to a collective eye-roll and “please just stop” from members of the BIPOC community upon her announcement.
Marianne’s announcement was followed by a Facebook retort saying, “this love thing hasn’t worked for 500 years, can we please try another tactic?” Many who saw this post, agreed with it. There were a few, though, who asserted that “we need to bring the light and love in order to heal,” and herein lies the weaponization.
Let me say that I have nothing against light and love.
I think it is wonderful. And, the reality is that telling a “victim” to just use light and love is incredibly insulting and unproductive.
The place to start with anything that needs change is first to acknowledge the thing that needs changing exists. Negating one’s experience and dismissing their pain, is sometimes referred to as “spiritual bypassing.” And, as some brought their notion that “all we need is love” to the table, more and more of those who have been oppressed expressed their frustration and anger.
Instead of listening and seeking to understand, the “light and love” folks doubled-down. “Love” was being used in this case to make the people directly affected, wrong. And this is not love.
Several white women and one man messaged me directly asking why we can’t just get along. They wondered why it was ok for the women of color they saw commenting to so swiftly say that they are “done with the spiritual white women.”
My response was that they are fed up because they have not been shown the kind of love that makes a difference for them, their safety and their lives. If anything, they have been namaste’d to death.
In my book, “Man School: Relating With Women in the #MeToo Era,” I share with men that women do not know who the “good men” are, because even the ones who have seemed to be good, have turned on them at one point or another. And, just as it is appalling to blame a victim of sexual assault, so is telling a black woman to “just choose love.” It places the responsibility on those who have been at effect rather than those of us who can make the difference for them.
Ultimately, what I shared from my experience was this: those of us who are invested in ending racism, sexism or any other kind of ism, get to accept that there is heat coming at us. The oppressors don’t like us, and the oppressed may not trust us.
For me, that is ok. I keep my head down and keep doing the work, knowing that this is what love would do. Love turns towards the problem, becomes a partner in transformation and makes the difference by starting with “what is so.”
If we are going to move forward together, as one, we must first acknowledge our differences, specifically our different experiences. This, for me, is love.
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November 27, 2018 at 09:38PM