So this week’s topic is love. There are a lot of different places to go with this one. Love for another person is important and worth a topic. Love of a calling or hobby is worth a topic. Love as an abstract is worth a topic. What speaks to me most when the word love comes up, other than my amazing wife and wonderful kids, is self love. The thought that comes up at this time of year is unconditional love. Both of these types of love can be very hard. Some of the hardest ways to love are unconditional love of people and any kind of love directed back at yourself.
Unconditional love is sort of an easy thing to say. We must love each other unconditionally. Yeah, everyone can get on board with this one. Go us. We can do it. Then you open the internet. How easy can you live unconditional love now?
First up lets differentiate between love and like. Love is frequently defined as strong affection, concern or compassion. Like can be defined as, enjoying being with, to regard in a favorable way, to feel affection. Can you like someone and not love them? Can you love someone and not like them? I say the answer is yes. You can decide you do not enjoy being with this person. I do not agree with you or hold you in high regard. However I do love you. I love you as a human, a human who, as I am, is flawed and imperfect. I can love you but not your beliefs, thoughts, or actions. I can do those things. Do I, do you, do those things? Can you, do you, say that.
That is the key to unconditional love. For me it is saying, I love you the person. I love you that exists in this moment. We do not have to be like minded. We do not have to agree. We do not have to share a social circle or a social moment. I just have to allow you to be the imperfect person that you are and you have to allow me to be the imperfect person that I am. That is hard. I an era where everyone’s beliefs, ideas, and opinions are plastered across the internet and broadcast across the airwaves non-stop, it is all to easy to get caught in the net or hate.
It is too easy to go from disagreeing with thought word and action, and take that to hate. We have become too invested in accolades. We count our likes when we post on social media. We can up vote ideas and opinions and we can down vote them. We check and check again to see if anyone is reading our blogs, and we check comments to see how many smart people agree with us and how many idiots do not. Being right has become more important that being knowledgeable. Being right is more important that being happy. Being right has become more important that being polite. Being right has nothing to do with fact as much as it does with someone agreeing with your worldview. In this digital age, we get soundbite and blurb and we don’t know anyone, we know their status not their personality. We know them as a character, but we do not know their character. We are exposed to a steady stream of negativity and that makes it so hard to maintain a positive attitude. Once we lose the positive attitude it becomes hard to love unconditionally. They have to agree with us. They have to have the same spiritual ideals. They have to have the same values. They have to demonstrate a worthiness for our love. We set conditions every day. If only they would see it my way. If only they this. If only they that.
You do not have to agree with them, or me. You have to get into a mental and spiritual space that allows you to be different. You have to put yourself in the space where the individual matters more than the country, culture, political party, or spiritual practice. That is my challenge. I fail far more often than I succeed, but I keep trying. I keep trying to be a better me and part of that is accepting you as you are in this moment. That is hard, but it is worth it. For me the key is to recognize when I am judging and casting stones. Then individually, moment by moment, I can work on it. I can change. I can do this. It is simple but not easy. It starts with accepting, then it grows.
I hope that you will find unconditional love this holiday season.