We are living in a world with a great divide.  Obviously, this is something that is not new, but it is certainly in the limelight currently with the potential to encourage genuine change, not only in America but in the world.  Where do you find yourself in this divide?  Do you feel compelled to lean in a certain direction due to your religious beliefs, political beliefs, personal beliefs?  How do you relate to humanity through these divided times, and is love a part of that?
I’m going to be honest, I’m pretty limited in my commitment to social media.  I also don’t own a television that gets regular channels.  The Hometown Gazette is my only newspaper subscription.  Ultimately, I invest ten minutes per day toward news stories from multiple sources to stay alert to what is happening in the world.  I feel that’s adequate.  I have no desire to be swept up into a sea of controversy, a slew of names and ranking positions… none of that I feel is really that valuable.  What I look for is how my fellow humans are loving one another.  That may sound naive, but to me, that’s what the solution is to all that ails us as a society.
Next week marks five years that I have been writing for this newspaper and if you’ve joined along over the years you may have begun to notice that every article truly revolves around the concept of love.  How do we learn to better love ourselves and others – and I address this question from multiple perspectives.  Now that I have begun the internship portion of my clinical mental health counseling master’s program, where I am serving as a counselor to others, I feel that simple concept encompasses every challenge we face.  The path to the answers to those questions vary for all of us, and for some that is going to be a hard road to navigate, but that myopic love approach ironically offers the most vast opportunity for transformation. 

One paradigm that I hold as true is  Every act is either an act of love or a cry for love.  Think about that – those people refusing to wear face masks, those who medically can, that’s a cry for love.  They need attention, they need to feel heard, they need to feel control… they need love.  I say this because, let’s be honest, I wear a mask for nearly six hours at a time doing massage, it’s not really that complicated.  I mean, sure, I did have to get a special gadget to keep it from crushing my hearing aids, and because I need sunglasses to not be blind outside due to my vision loss, I had to get a mask with a nose clip, but in reality, it’s an act of love.  Not just love for myself, who is immunocompromised, but a love for others.  Do I know the scientific validity of the mask with regard to its protection from Covid, only minimally, but I don’t see that as the point.  If my wearing a mask keeps myself and others safe, that’s great, but more so, if my wearing it makes others simply feel safer, I’m alright with that too.  A simple act of love- that’s what really matters.  

When I learn of the protests to honor Black lives, I feel such a swelling of love.  When we each take time to learn the true trials of another human being we can begin to appreciate how Black Lives Matter is only the smallest of statements of the truth.  Black lives not only matter, but they are pure love, as all humans are.  They are worthy of everything life has to offer and recognizing the oppression that has been put on their race for generations is to see how a society without love can destroy true equality, opportunity, safety, resources, justice… without love for one another, without a  genuine understanding of suffering, we fall into the ignorance of All Lives Matter – which misses the point.  

Where can you push the boundaries of your love – both for yourself and for others?  Love is not meant to have boundaries, in fact, every religious text specifically states that.  When you feel yourself withdraw your love from another, or from yourself, can you notice what rises up in you?  Can you name the emotion?  Can you hear the thought(s)?  This is how we come to know our bias, our beliefs, and this is how we can challenge them.  

I encourage all of us to live love, in every aspect of life.  Allow yourself to be vulnerable, to listen with new ears, to lean into what’s uncomfortable.  Allow love to free you so that we can thrive, not just personally, but globally