In my previous blog post, I wrote about how the Crow Nation generated something called radical hope in the face of the cultural devastation that had been imposed on them by American expansion into the West. Remember that the Crow Nation generated radical hope by “dropping in” and by challenging their common-sense ways of living together—as an act of love. They didn’t change their values, but they challenged the old ways of doing things and looked at how those values could still be expressed. It’s time for all of us to look around at what’s happening where we are now. What if our traditions—our cherished convictions and beloved prejudices—are now causing great pain and great suffering to other human beings? And to this beautiful planet we call home?
Like the Crow, we have a choice to make together. The recent election demonstrated something to us if we’ll pay attention. We can continue this one up and one down kind of governance, in which it’s most important for one group to have power over the other. We can allow the power brokers to keep our attention on that by being fearful and angry of the “other side.” But if we do, we’ll miss the opportunity to learn a different kind of dialogue—one in which we ask more questions, and we listen more actively and creatively. The crisis that we’re experiencing now is the opening we need to bring a higher self forward. In some ways, it’s much easier to allow ourselves to be isolated, separate from each other and fearful. It’s more work to stop it, and reach for a more universal space. How do we actually do that?
We have heard these answers over time from our elders, teachers and heroes:
Love and compassion are necessities not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.
The Dalai Lama, a Tibetan Buddhist leader
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher
Do small things with great love.
Mother Teresa, an Eastern European Catholic Nun
Whether you are a saint, a spiritual leader, a poet, a musician or a scientist; whether you are a brother, a sister, a mother or a father; if you are a lover and a beloved, you know—love is the only force that heals, bonds, creates and evolves us; and, if we desire it, guides how we choose to live. We are creating and shaping our lives every day, in each moment. Each conversation or dialogue that we have with another, we are choosing. Each action we take, we are choosing. From each moment of choosing, we create the world we’re currently living in. A museum curator chooses from over 100,000 pieces, for a show or an experience that will only require 25 pieces. Likewise, we are the curators of our lives now—not the politicians, or business or religious leaders. We are curating the health of the planet that we live on, the strength of the human family that lives on this planet. We steward the biodiversity of this place we call home. And yes, we are at the crossroads. This moment in history requires that we, as human beings, make a new choice for our collective future.
We have to redefine love, not as a feeling that comes and goes, but as a commitment and a practice. Too often, we feel hurt, and afraid, or we feel betrayed or alone and, believe that we are unloved or unlovable. Then, we act from those feelings and moods, and proclaim something about how life is. From indifference, it’s much easier to hate. From unresolved grief, it is much easier to be angry and exact revenge on some completely illogical choice—a person, a race, a gender, a religion, a culture, a community.
Yes, it’s much harder to choose love, because it is serious work, not for the faint of heart. It’s not a moral imperative, and it’s not about being a good person or a bad person, believing in God or not. Choosing Love is choosing to be human together. Forgiving the unforgivable. Cultivating compassion and kindness. Having the very conversation we’re avoiding, and having it with respect and dignity to mutually work it out. There is always a way, just not from the same old place we’ve been. We will need to re-equip our tool belt with new practices, being willing to re-forge our beliefs and actions in the ardor of heartbreak. For Love.
My friends, that is advanced citizenship in a republic that treasures life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, one that respects democracy and the nobility of our human souls. As Martin Luther King said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” We will need this higher place to come together in the changes we are now facing.