“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
As another Valentines Day passes, I’ve found myself thinking about how we can transform a Hallmark occasion into an opportunity to celebrate True Love. The kind of love that Gandhi, The Dalai Lama, and Martin Luther King Jr. talked about. They knew a thing or two about what true love really is.
For starters, it ain’t easy. It’s not about just loving the people in your immediate circle – the ones that agree with you, the ones that look like you, the ones that turn you on. That’s a good thing, and hard enough in itself. But the kind of love these peaceful warriors understood, in the depths of their hearts, comes from recognizing that we are all truly, utterly and completely, interconnected. This is the kind of love that enables us to actually love our enemies.
Have you ever really tried it? Not just tolerate our enemies, but actually love them. How about even someone who just irritates you a little; or a lot. Phew – it’s tough! That’s fierce love. That’s industrial strength love. That’s the love that’s going to change the planet. Martin Luther King Jr. used to joke sometimes, “we’ve just got to love the hell out them. You just love them…”
This isn’t a simple, sanctimonious holier than thou love – no, this is the kind of love that loves right through the ego, the hatred, the misunderstanding, right through to the divine spark that flames inside each and every being on this planet. This love does not excuse them for their actions, does not excuse them for the pain they cause, but recognizes that they are inflicting pain, because they are in pain.
A strange thing happens when violence is met with love. It doesn’t know what to do. It knows how to respond to violence – now you’re talking, now you’re speaking it’s language. It’s a common practice for police to infiltrate peaceful activists to start them on a violent course of action – inside agitators. Because this allows the forces that be to be justified in an even more violent response. But if we are committed, deeply committed, to non-violence, to love in action, the perpetrators of violence will one day run out of anger.
Yes, it seems impossible in some of these large, seemingly endless conflicts – like the one in the middle east – to hold true to the path of non-violence. But I believe there is no other way. There will be huge costs to be paid, in the standing up for peace, in the standing up for love, as there has been throughout history. In the civil rights movement, many people died, but still, they refused to respond with anything other than love. And eventually, that love, and action – direct action – triumphed.
Ah love. If only we could truly learn to love. If only every breath, every gesture could resonate with love. For some people it’s just natural. For others, especially us men, we need to learn. Society in the west has ingrained in us the ethos of “every man for himself.” But when you learn, from the inside out, that everyone is yourself, you will discover a huge shift takes place. When we learn the truth of inter-being, when we learn True Love, look out world! Cause here we come – the compassionate warriors of a new millenium.
We can do it – we’re here to do it. Nothing could be more rewarding. When we move through the world with our love light shining, the world beams it right back up. And heart by heart, we can illuminate this world of violence and inhumanity. We can transform it into one of life and possibility, from the inside out.
Happy Valentines! May we find peace in our hearts, and everywhere we go on this planet.