As I simultaneously listen to and feel the breeze of the summer wind making its way through the trees of Southern California, along the sill of my window, into my room and onto my face, the thought of love creeps into my mind.
Not the world view of love, nor the kind humans fancy in their stages of loneliness.
The type of love I’m referring to is one completely incompatible with the typical world view of love. While pondering, I became compelled to dig a bit deeper. So I did.
In digging, I was able to uncover what I believe the true definition of love is.
Love is the elimination of barriers.
It is this definition of love I would prefer you keep in mind as you continue reading.
What is a barrier?
A barrier is an obstacle that prevents access.
So, in layman’s terms, love is the elimination of obstacles that prevent access.
Upon realizing satisfaction with the given definition, I was further compelled to understand why love is so important. Why it is something we long for, preach about, make quotes in regards to, and cry over.
It is because love heals ALL things.
The thing is, many of us do not have an understanding of how to practice love.
If love is the elimination of barriers, and we only love those that are closest to us, or that agree with us, then can we define ourselves as loving?
I don’t think so.
Let’s look at a few examples of barriers.
*In the below list of examples, the pronoun “we” is not utilized in a manner to be inclusive of any one group or groups of people. “We” is the pronoun of choice because any other pronoun would translate as finger-pointing or as though I were solely referring to myself.
We unfollow people on social media whose views do not align with ours.
We feel compelled to retaliate (clap back) at those who offend us.
We allow our fear of being judged to halt us from having conversations about topics that really matter, like reality.
But what does love have to do with any of this?
My theory is, if we practice love with the given definition in mind, we can eliminate the typical results of dissension. Read that again.
Note, I did not express that we can completely eliminate dissension. Humans will always disagree because we are not all wired one and the same. However, it is how we respond to those who do not agree with, or understand us that results in negative behaviors that follow.
Let’s go back to one of our examples and add in a dash of love.
Example 1: We unfollow people on social media whose views do not align with ours.
We don’t delete people because we hope they change. We delete people because their opinions make us uncomfortable, hurt, fearful, or upset. So, we respond by putting up a virtual barrier and eliminating them from our timelines. We place barriers between us and them so their toxic views don’t bleed into our mental space. I get it. Trust me.
Here is where love comes in. What if instead of placing a barrier between us and the person, we instead try to reach out and understand why they feel the way they do? In uncovering people’s viewpoints we tend to uncover childhood traumas, mis-information, lack of understanding and sometimes even lack of intelligence. Some people are truly a conversation away from changing their lives, or at least their viewpoints. But when everyone around them places barriers between them and that person instead of getting to the root of the problem, the person with the lack of understanding will eventually drown in their own ignorance, or harm others because of it. All because no one removed their barrier long enough to dig a little deeper.
There is a woman who shares her story of growing up racist because her family was racist, and she grew up being brainwashed that people of color were more prone to crime, lazy, and biologically inferior. When she left for college she was forced to face every ideal she was taught head-on. Through education, new friendships, and being exposed to viewpoints outside of what she had known her entire life, she was able to shift her paradigm.
The thing is, not everyone goes to college or leaves their hometown long enough to have their viewpoints challenged. When you spend your life surrounded by people who agree with everything you think, say and do, you will by default believe that your actions and thoughts are proper.
Sometimes, it is not until someone has the courage to practice love, that viewpoints can begin to shift.
*Note: Self-education is essential and should be practiced consistently. This article on love and the power of it is not a free pass for those that choose not to educate themselves. The excuse that no one ever taught you, or that everyone blocked you won’t fly here.
So to my allies,
Those on the right side of history, but blocking your family members because of their uncomfortable viewpoints; I hate to break it to you, but you are making the problem worse.
Practice love (our definition of it) toward your racist family members, because when you block them out you allow their circle to become filled with only people who agree with them. What this results in is the continuation of their behaviors, and the continued dissemination of their unhealthy viewpoints.
The elimination of barriers requires vulnerability. Chill out. Vulnerability is not a bad thing. It is a necessary component to growing as a leader and driving change.
Become vulnerable enough to practice love.
Become vulnerable enough to eliminate the barriers that halt you from having the tough conversations.
It is the tough conversations that matter.
The next time someone disagrees with you, I challenge you to dig deeper, inquire, and love them (and yourself) enough to challenge their viewpoint in an inquisitive, solutions-oriented manner.
Note: Cursing someone out for disagreeing with you is not inquisitive, nor is it solutions-oriented.
This is where change begins- in the tough conversations no one wants to have.
In writing this blog, I am compelled to include more examples, lengthy paragraphs and detailed stories. But I’m pretty sure your time would not permit you to sit for long enough to be fully engaged for all I have in store.