Love

When I first went to university there was a critical film called Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography; there was also a healing film called If You Love This Planet. ‘Love’ is not a serious academic word, but what other word could seriously describe what we need? It is so serious that the authors of Limits to Growth included it in their update, Beyond the Limits: ‘The deepest difference between optimists and pessimists is their position in the debate about whether human beings are able to operate collectively from a basis of love. In a society that systematically develops in people their individualism, their competitiveness, and their cynicism, the pessimists are the vast majority. That pessimism is the single greatest problem of the current social system, we think, and the deepest cause of unsustainability. A culture that cannot believe in, discuss, and develop the best human qualities is one that suffers from a tragic distortion of information.… It is difficult to speak of or to practice love, friendship, generosity, understanding, or solidarity within a system whose rules, goals, and information streams are geared for lesser human qualities. But we try, and we urge you to try. Be patient with yourself and others.’ image from the nfb of canada.

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Biology, when focused on the individual gene or a strand of DNA, seems still mired in nineteenth century Darwinian competition, but now, at the dawn of the twenty-first, we value too cooperation. Biologist Lynn_Margulis-from-wikipediaLynn Margulis writes, ‘New knowledge of biology alters our view of evolution…. Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking.’ Similarly, in the last 120 years, physics boldly has gone where no one has gone before, exploring weird, counter-intuitive, even taboo, topics. Like quantum physics’ dual billiard ball particle/oceanic wave, it seems life is both competitively separate and cooperatively connected. David Spangler writes, ‘I am a continuum between the fluid, wave state of pure consciousness on the one hand and my specific, particulate, physical identity on the other.’ Weird, eh? Sometimes love is like that. Inexplicably weird; separate and connected. And surprising. image of margulis from wikipedia.

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leaves-by-shirley-hirst-pdWhy can you walk in woods? Why aren’t the leaves three metres deep, instead of just a carpet? Because they decompose, which is the livelihood of countless protozoa and tiny, often microscopic, animals. Decomposition, which has been around for hundreds of millions of years, is a delicate balance that in our hubris we easily upset. Stuart Hill writes that increasingly, ‘these organisms are having a harder and harder time getting their work done. Nearly everything that humans do to the soil kills them – directly or indirectly. They are poisoned by pesticides and some fertilizers, and injured or exposed to the damaging rays of the sun or to predators by cultivation and bare-soil agricultural practices. They’re starved of a balanced diet by our failure to return our wastes to the soil and by our tendency to grow the same crop year after year, providing the soil population with a monotonous diet. In addition, desiccation, flooding, fire, compaction from heavy machinery, and contamination with a vast range of pollutants add to the hazards of life in the soil.’ image by shirley hirst.

If we say that decomposition is a form of love, we could be accused of anthropomorphizing. But physicist Brian Swimme might call it that. Afterall, he calls the sun’s activity a form of generosity, of love–it gives and gives and gives until one day, *poof!*, it explodes, receiving nothing in return–but he avoids anthropomorphizing it by calling it a solar form of generosity, not a human form. In other words the sun is doing what the sun does. We do what we do. We humans make choices. Sometimes the choices are easy. Sometimes they’re hard. But in choosing, are we truly loving, if love is a universal force? image from wikipedia.

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joanna-macy-from-newworldlibrary-comMore than thirty years after I first went to university I come across World as Lover, World as Self: Courage for Global Justice and Ecological Renewal by Joanna Macy, excerpted in ‘World As Lover; World As Self: Seeing the world as oneself – or as a lover – transforms ordinary reality and provides a greater sense of purpose.‘ Oh my! She uses a musical metaphor. She suggests we are entering the ‘third movement’ in the symphonic evolution of our consciousness. In the first movement we knew only cosmic unity, but in the second we experienced the birth of ego, consciousness, and necessary separation; the third is refrain, a repeat of unity, but with a difference, for we are older and wiser. Warning! This sort-of thing doesn’t happen overnight but takes thousands of years, so be patient, be kind to yourself, and have faith…. image from newworldlibrary.com.

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Dr Malidoma Somé from West Africa (in this excerpt of an interview by Sarah van Gelder) reveals a link between homelessness (lovelessness?) and capitalism/consumerism. image from wikipedia.

Malidoma: In the West, what I’ve noticed is that what is called a community is more a conglomeration of individuals who are so self-centered and isolated that there is a kind of suspicion of the other, simply because there isn’t enough knowledge of the other to remove that suspicion. So trust becomes the challenge to actual community.

It is a very tricky thing, because I think that capitalism encourages this kind of isolation as a good environment for consumerism. And there is a relationship between a consumer society and these individuals who are defined by isolation from one another, and private space and private ownership.

The community I am talking about is one in which respect for the person is based upon that person’s irreplaceable position in the world. To live with the knowledge that an approved project was the reason for one’s birth commands respect for the sacred. In the absence of initiation as a remembering and transforming experience, the modern world has created career counseling.’

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Spangler writes of three modes of being: the uniqueness and separateness of the particle,  the loving oneness of the wave, and in between, creative interconnectedness. ‘I want to learn to honor myself as a particle, know myself as part of an interconnected social and natural ecology, and experience myself dissolved into the oneness that pervades all the cosmos: the domain of pure consciousness or spirit. I want to understand and be able to use uniqueness, co-creativeness, and love.’

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Ivanka Vana Jakic wants to create zones of peace so that ‘we, as humanity, can discover our own inner power – the power of peace, the power to control our lives from within our hearts, families, and communities, and the power to take responsibility for what is happening to us. It is time to use our resources to heal ourselves and our abused environment, and to create the beautiful world that is meant to be. We still have a moment or so to make that choice.’ She reminds us that healing the world starts with healing yourself. Remember the Serenity Prayer? Remember the signpost that divinity is within? Remember that what is personal is political?

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suzuki-by-Holger-Motzkau-from-wpDavid Suzuki says ‘there are signs of hope. Many countries — as well as cities, states and provinces — are taking global warming seriously and are working to reduce emissions and shift to cleaner energy sources. Some world leaders are even questioning our current paradigm, where the economy is made a priority above all else…. Over and over, the economy has determined the extent of our response, but how much value does it place on breathable air, drinkable water, edible food and stable weather and climate? Surely the economy is the means to a better future, not an end in itself. Surely it must be subordinate to a rich, diverse ecosphere that sustains all life.’ image by holger motzkau.

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ChristineBougie-by-tanja-tizianaI used to be a musician and a computer programmer, so you’d think computer music is a natural, but so far it’s just frustrating. Still, love what you’re doing. For Christine Bougie, that’s playing lap steel and guitar and making jazz-tinged pop instrumentals like this. Love the one you’re with. Love yourself. Love your god/dess. Not necessarily in that order–heh heh. image by tanja tiziana.

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