Wednesday, February 13, 2013

All You Need Is Love? Maybe.

image is from here
I haven't written about it lately, but I do love the Beatles. All four. I miss John and George. No, I don't wish Pete Best had remained the drummer because Ringo's love of his three bandmates was some of the glue that held them together as long as they were. I do wish Stu Sutcliffe had lived. To those who know who Pete and Stu are, who also love the Beatles, drop me a note and say hi.

I've heard that half of all Beatles songs were about love. While the Rolling Stones were singing about women as things to be used or put down, John, Paul, and George were writing sensitive songs about women they loved very much, including their mothers who died when they were teenagers, in the case of John and Paul.

I probably believed at one point in time, "All You Need Is Love". And depending on how you understand what love is and what constitutes loving action, I might still agree. As long as it is considered loving to work at radically transforming oppressive systems into humane ones. As long as it is loving to be pro-revolution with the result of change being more love and less hate, more peace and less war, more health and less suffering, more sustainable living and less destructive consumption.

It has been curious to me for some time, as a Jew, that Christians look to a Jew named Jesus for inspiration, support, and healing, but usually forget that his loving actions included challenging a corrupt State, standing with oppressed and denigrated people, including women in prostitution, and rejected any kind of human King or Ruler, instead calling on people to follow something found deep in their hearts. One colleague of mine, who is Christian, Black, and feminist, finds what's radical about his teachings, while most men and whites apparently cannot. Maybe they don't want to do what he's asking them to do because for men and whites, there's a very material and social advantage to maintaining, or at least not interrupting, male and white supremacy.

Jesus sounds like a bit of an anarchist to me.

The Buddha was a rich young man who had to break out of his confined, very privileged life to see how people suffered in ways that never occurred to him. His heart was broken open by what he found out and he spent a great deal of time contemplating what it all meant that some suffer as they do. This led to insights about who we are and can be when we see Samsara for what it is: a realm of human suffering that is not the only realm of Being.

I once heard from a Rabbi that the mystical version of a Jewish G-d isn't one gender, calls on us to bring together the broken pieces of our collective soul, and, with love, heal ourselves and each other.

I don't practice a religion. I'm not atheistic but I'm not exactly a theist either. What I understand to be G-d isn't quite as personified as the Western gods I grew up learning about. Rather than G-d as a being, I think more about G-d as Being and Becoming, showing up in existence and action, and in everything else too.

If love is an action as well as a feeling and experience, then love calls on me to speak out against injustice and systematic harm. Love calls on me to be self-critical, self-compassionate, and critical and compassionate with others also.

I've made mistakes demonstrating a willingness to be critical without showing the compassion. To myself and to others. Mostly to myself.

I am working on bringing more love to the work I do. If I slip up, I hope you'll let me know what I did that wasn't loving so I have a chance to learn from increased awareness of the effects of my actions, to apologise, and to do better in the future.

Happy Valentine's Day.