A few days embarrassingly late, I learned about the Oklahoma Fraternity getting caught on film chanting a horrifically cruel and racist song. I was obviously disturbed by the incident, but also frustrated with the human race for not evolving more. How is it that we have been humans for thousands of years but we still do the same shit? After watching empire after empire rise and fall, we still think we should war with others so we can rise. After seeing millions of examples of infidelity destroying lives, we still engage in secret rendezvous. We still fight and commit adultery and compete and argue and cut people off and hold grudges and move too fast and text while driving and discriminate based on differences. Are we serious? Our buildings look nothing like they did 200 years ago. Transportation, medical procedures, space travel…it’s all incredibly evolved. We learned how to make a baboon’s heart work in a human body. We learned how to shoot a rocket - with humans in it - out of our atmosphere and to the moon. Then we landed on the moon. LANDED ON THE MOON. But we haven’t figured out how to be kind and loving and accepting of each other? Oh, and of ourselves.
It is quite easy to love and accept someone who adores you, takes care of you and fawns over you. It is simple to look at someone very similar to yourself and say, “Ah, yes, I get you.” It is no big feat to love the parts of yourself that radiate and serve you exactly as you desire them to. But what about all the rest?
Real love - which leads to real peace - is not about being fond of the people who are fond of you. Self love is not about looking at and celebrating all your favorite things about yourself. The kind of love that has the power to change you and the planet is the love that can love the ugly, the difficult, the wounded. It’s the love that loves someone different from you. Someone who confuses or angers you. Someone who hurts you. The parts of your personality or body that frustrate or embarrass you.
We need to evolve as lovers. It’s not enough to learn to celebrate the parts of yourself you adore. It’s not enough to build and tight community of friends and family that you love. Those are all important. Incredibly important. But not enough.
I’ve heard it said that love shouldn’t hurt. I like the sentiment and I agree that love should not be abusive; it should not hurt to receive love. But, sometimes it does hurt to give love. It hurts our egos to let go of resentments, it damages our pride to see the hurt in the person who hurt us rather than to reduce them to a villain. Real love absolutely should hurt - your ego. Ego must be damaged in order for soul to grow.
We have to start loving when we don’t understand, when we don’t agree. We have to be able to see the humanity in the people who we are different from. And, if we ever want to evolve, we have to start with ourselves. We have to look both honesty and compassionately at the parts of ourselves that we dislike. Ignoring won’t lead to growth, but neither will hating. We have to approach the parts of ourselves that we dislike, but with grace. If we commit to the practice of looking at things we don’t understand or dislike with both honesty and compassion, love will grow and we will evolve. I love being a human. I love being alive at this time in life. But we can do better. Let’s start with love.