Today, on Valentine's Day, we are called to examine love in its many splendored ways.
Life is a love thang. To experience love, you have to be love. To be love, you have to be open, understanding, patient, kind, slow to anger, giving, forgiving, trusting, adventurous, hopeful, enduring, strong, tender, and tenacious.
It takes courage to love. It even takes courage to talk about love. We see here in our nation's capital probably more than anywhere else that people believe in the power of money, politics, connections, drugs, wine, liquor, technology, and data -- but few will admit to a belief in love to substantially change things.
Mention love as a power in anything other than a close personal or family relationship, and people laugh and scoff. Call you naive, silly, unwise.
But it's truly the super-intelligent who understand the power of love. Because all else is temporary, superficial, and the province of the insecure and cowardly.
King believed in love.
Gandhi believed in love.
Kim Phuc believes in love.
Einstein believed in love.
Lennon believed in love.
Rosa Parks believed in love.
Love is freedom! Oh, freedom. Love unfolds infinite ideas, potential, and possibilities.
More than 10 years ago, I set out on a journey of self-love, to do whatever I wanted with my life, on my own terms. I fell into the lovely craft of writing children's books, for love. Which led me into schools, religious institutions, day care centers, group homes, and recreational centers, to speak on the power of the love of reading and writing, and soon to demonstrate to teachers how to teach literacy effectively with love. I didn't understand at that point that it was love guiding my efforts. Wasn't aware I had stumbled onto pedagogy of love. (I soon found others acquainted with the practice.)
With teachers, I bore witness to the power of love to ease children's fears, calm their anxieties, dissolve violent and self-destructive impulses, move them to trust, open up their minds to learning, and their hearts to simple kindnesses. I worked with children one-on-one who were as many as 7 grade levels behind in reading and writing, and saw them experience the joy of succeeding academically for the first times in lives. With love as my guide, I tutored black boys who were five grade levels behind in reading and saw them complete high school and pursue higher education. I saw black boys who were so angry (because of a lack of love), all they did was curse everybody in sight, transform into the most cooperative and motivated spirits in the classroom. I witnessed children who could not read at all become the best readers in their classrooms.
I blame love for it all.
In recent years, as Communications Director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, I have seen parents, other family members, and friends respond to the most horrific and devastating violence with love.
Love for their loved ones and their fellow human beings wakes them up in the morning and pushes them through the day to fight for an America that can free itself of the hatred, irrational fear, and political manipulation that have made us slaves to guns as problem-solvers.
One disappointing or upsetting meeting or event after another, primarily with political leaders, and still these families and friends push on because of love. Bless them for all they have to teach us about love and forgiveness.
Love is like the seed that is in itself. It multiplies, elevates, and corrects errors, especially the erroneous thinking that those who are deficient in love have about themselves.
Where there is love, there is no fear. Not of family or friends, co-workers, situations, circumstances, places, or things. If we're not loving, we're not living. Let us begin with self and stretch out our hands in love to others through high-minded deeds, unselfish pursuits, and goals. And watch love pay us back with riches in peace, harmony, and happiness that no amount of skill in politics or technology, no amount of money or connections, and no quantity of strong drink or gratuitous activity could hope to match.
Let us ask ourselves: Who and what can we love more today?