This is for Donna B. Sirius. Sister, you inspire me. I am honored to be on this path with you.
I’ve been reflecting a lot lately about what “love” is. I know it’s a word that many throw around very freely and I suspect many don’t really have a clue about what it really means. I know that sounds judgmental, but it is what it is. (And I don’t really care so much what anyone thinks of my opinions anymore. ) It’s what I have been observing not only in my personal life but on the global level. We are entering a time where it is crucial that we must learn to live from the heart and a place of love rather than from the head and the “mind” related ego concepts.
“Love” has nothing to do with words and everything to do with actions. Love isn’t always pretty, flowers and rainbows and boxes of chocolates. Love is the nitty gritty, doing what has to be done, even when you’re exhausted to the bones, because you “love”, because you care, and because you have to do what is the right thing. Often, love means putting aside what you “prefer” and doing what contributes to the greater good of the whole or individual.
I’ve been reading a lot of psychological stuff and it’s scary what our society has turned into. There is a “me first” mentality that is foreign to the cultures of the East where the mentality is that of the interconnectedness of all. I observe a Western society where people do not seem to care about each other or the planet in general. The things that are happening now in regard to personal gain and greed are beyond my comprehension. Acts of kindness and caring are seemingly so rare that I am brought to tears when I see them. (I wasn’t always this way.) I was reading last night and came to a passage that really moved me (again, to tears) on many levels because it seems that the capacity to really love and care is becoming a scarce commodity.
“In the book entitled, “Some Do Care: Contemporary Lives of Moral Commitment”, they report three striking commonalities among individuals of extreme conscience. The authors label those shared characteristics as 1) “certainty”, 2)” positivity”, and 3) “unity of self and moral goals”. “Certainty” refers to an exceptional clarity concerning what the exemplars believe to be right, and also their sense of unequivocal personal responsibility to act on those beliefs. “Positivity” expresses the exemplars affirmative approach to life, their extraordinary enjoyment of their work and their marked optimism despite hardship or even danger. And “unity of self and moral goals” describes the integration of the subject’s moral stance with their conception of their own identity, and the perceived sameness of their moral and personal goals. “Unity” means that, for such people, conscience is not just a guiding light. It is who they are. In an attempt to describe his sense of personal identity, one of the exemplars, Cabell Brand, explained in an interview, “Who I am is what I’m able to do and how I feel all the time–each day, each moment…..it’s hard for me to separate who I am from what I want to do and what I am doing.” Colby and Damon consider this third characteristic, the “unity of self and moral goals” to be their most important finding. Conscience, our sense of responsibility toward one another, allows us to live together, in our homes and on our planet. It helps to create meaning in our lives, and stands between us and an empty existence of meaningless competitions. A very large sense of conscience can integrate moral intention, personal desire, and identity in the mind–right action becomes who we are–and for this reason, extreme conscience appears to be a rare exact-fit to human happiness. So here is my best psychological advice: As you look around our world and try to figure out what is going on and who is “winning” do not wish to have less conscience. Wish for more. Celebrate your fate. Having a conscience, you may never be able to do exactly as you please, or just what you would need to do in order to succeed easily or ultimately in the material world. And so perhaps you will never wield great financial or political power over other people. Maybe you will never command the respect of the masses, or their fear. On the contrary, you may suffer great bouts of conscience that cause you to act quite against your own self serving ambitions. And you may have to work hard all your life, giving up the temptations of childlike dependency because you want your own children to thrive. On account of your own scruples, you may never be able to take revenge on those people who have hurt you. But you will be able to look at your children asleep in their beds and feel that unbearable surge of awe and thanksgiving. You will be able to keep others in your heart long after they are gone. You will have genuine friends. You will go through life fully aware of the warm and comforting, infuriating, confusing, compelling, and sometimes joyful presence of other human beings, and along with your conscience, you will be given the chance to take the largest risk of all, which, as we all know, is to LOVE.” ~ Martha Stout, PhD
Love is the parent who gives up what they need and/or want in order to provide for their children. Love is staying up beside a sick child or loved one, all night long, rather than sleeping or going out with friends, and then after the sleepless night, still going to work and doing what needs to be done. Love is sitting with a friend who is grieving and holding their hand and just being there, even if it’s terribly uncomfortable and you have no idea what to say and you have a list of things to do that could be much more fun. Love is standing up for those you care about, even if you risk your own popularity. Love is the sweet mother who turns into the raging lion when her child is threatened. Love is listening and trying to understand the pain that another human being is feeling. Love is giving of your time and money to those less fortunate when you really don’t have all that much yourself but you know you’re not starving or homeless so you can “afford” to give. Love is feeding those in your midst who are hungry. Love is giving someone a warm and dry place to sleep. Love is holding your tongue when you could speak the very obvious truth, but you know it would terribly hurt the person you speak it to. Love is letting go of the need to be right, to control and dominate and thinking instead of the other person and what they’re going through. Love is acknowledging and validating what another person feels even when you do not feel it yourself or understand it. Love is putting aside your personal “comfort” needs to accommodate the needs of another. Love is showing respect.
I’ve had instances when there’s been a death of someone near me and I felt as though my guts were ripped out and people close to me have said, “Oh, you were upset? I didn’t know that.” On the other hand, I’ve had instances where someone was OK just to sit with me and allow me to lay my head on their knee while they stroked my hair and acknowledged my deep pain. Love has no words. It’s not about being able to say the right thing and come up with flowery phrases that are meaningless. Love is being there with another person and recognizing their humanity, acknowledging that what they feel is real for them. Love is stepping outside your own personal bubble and taking the time to acknowledge another, whatever it is they are experiencing, whether it be pain or joy.
One of the biggest examples was when Trayvon Martin was senselessly killed and many people had no feelings of sympathy or empathy whatsoever. ( https://tigerlilysgarden.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/why-i-care-trayvon-martin) It is a horribly sad sign of our society when a young man, because he was wearing a hoodie and walking in the dark, a few blocks from where he was going (to his father) gets killed and then judged because he “looked like a hoodlum”. Well, I have the photos and he didn’t look like a “hoodlum”. But even if he did, so what? Where was the compassion for the loss of a human life? Where was the compassion for the anguish of his mother and his family? That story tore at my soul. I am a mother. I have sons. And I am human. And in my own personal reality with the people in my space, I saw the compassion or lack or it for this young man who was tragically murdered, which at times, was shocking.
I see homeless people every day. Lately, I see homeless families. It tears me up even more when there are small kids involved. I don’t know how much of it is real or not. (With some of the homeless people you can tell, but not all of them.) I hurt that I do not have a way to help more of them. I have learned (again, from observing) that it’s impossible to work full time and receive minimum wage and be able to afford to live (at least in South Florida). I see the scorn that people receive for not being up to par and being able to compete, even remotely, with those who are more well off. I see the CEOs of major corporations, WalMart is one of them, living is luxury….beyond luxury….with more money that a person will ever need in their lifetime….and treating their employees badly. (I feel guilty anymore if I go to WalMart. ~ There’s that conscience at work again.) I observe people in traffic. People with money in their pockets, a nice car, and a nice life and yet they feel the need to curse those who are in their way. What is all this? Where is the love? Where is the compassion? So many talk about it, throw the words around, but the words mean NOTHING.
We are coming to a turning point in human history. Regardless of whether you are spiritual or religious or believe in ancient prophecy, you cannot deny that we are at a crossroads. Our government is corrupt, seemingly based on power and control and greed. Corporations are out of control with greed. The medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies are based on greed. Our food supply is being tainted by chemicals and genetically modified foods. We are ruining the environment. No matter what you believe, you cannot be blind to what is taking place in our world. If things do not begin to change, humanity is doomed. I don’t know how we can possibly stay on the path we’re on (globally) and expect to survive as a species. We need massive changes to overcome these “issues” (I couldn’t think of a stronger word ~ perhaps the word “clusterf&ck” would be more appropriate). The changes are going to have to come from us, as individuals. We need to wake up and start coming from our hearts. We need to CARE. That’s really, really simple. WE NEED TO CARE. We need to get out of our heads, which the ego dominates and screams about “me, me, me”.
At times, it is discouraging. I have watched people who know each other personally take what seems like great delight in hurting each other, without any kind of remorse. And if you can willfully hurt someone that you KNOW PERSONALLY, how in the world can you care about strangers….in your own city, country …and definitely in another part of the world……(that chances are, you will never see)?? I am aware that there are those who will never experience an awakening of the heart. It is what it is. It is their path during this incarnation. But I also have hope that there are many who are awakening right now to the call of Spirit, which asks us to step outside ourselves and to love, care and extend compassion….not only to our fellow human beings but to the earth itself.
Treat others as you would like to be treated. It’s that simple. It’s beyond simple and I will say it again, WE NEED TO CARE. PERIOD. CARE. Step outside your bubble, whether it’s your own selfish “personal gain” bubble or it’s your “I have to feel happy all the time new age bubble” or if it’s your “all about me” bubble. Step outside and consciously think of things other than yourself. Think of other people, animals and the planet and what you can do to start CARING. Sometimes we can’t do much. We don’t always have much to give in the way of money. But we can smile, we can be kind, we can help someone, we can encourage someone. We can send a blessing or say a prayer. No matter how minimal it may seem, there is always something you can do to extend compassion and caring and love. And that caring will create ripples in the world that extend to the world around you and continue to spread.
“Do not do to others what you would not want done to you.” ~ Confucius
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” ~ Jesus
“What is hateful to you, do not do unto your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary.” ~Jewish proverb
“This is the sum of Dharma: Do naught unto others which would cause pain if done unto you.” ~Mahabharata (Hindu)
“One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to see how it hurts.” ~Nigerian Yoruba
“All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One. ” Black Elk, spiritual leader of the Lakota
“We are ineluctably and inextricably bound up with everyone and everything in the Universe, and this state of interbeing is the reason we should not selfishly (and vainly) chase our goals of individual acquisition and power.” ~ Martha Stout PhD
Kathy Lee 11/23/2013 https://www.facebook.com/kathy.lee.77715 www.tigerlilysgarden.com