Practicing Love, Opening Doors

Sometimes I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I am faced with problems, personal and political, and I don’t have any idea how to solve them.

Over the years in times like this, it has increasingly helped me to ask the question, “How can I show love to myself and others in this situation?” When I use the word love here, I am not primarily talking about a passion or sentiment.

Rather, the love I am speaking about is a specific choice I make to honor the goodness and light in myself and in others in a way that leads to liberation–personal and political. Paulo Freire writes about this kind of love when he writes, “As an act of bravery, love cannot be sentimental; as an act of freedom, it must not serve as a pretext for manipulation. It must generate other acts of freedom.”[1]

We need freedom from alienation, from suffering, from hate, from dehumanizing cultural standards, and from actions and thoughts that harm us. Most of the personal and political problems we face come from internal suffering that we don’t know how to deal with. We feel afraid, and so we lash out at ourselves and others.

We feel alienated, and so we try to control or dominate other people or various parts of our psyche in order to bring about the love we seek. When we ask the question, “How can I show more love?”, we allow ourselves to be present in our difficult feelings and seek solutions.

Slowing down and being present with ourselves allows us to notice the wisdom that is already present within us and even sitting right next to us, if we allow ourselves to see it. This opens new doors to us. I drew a picture to remind myself that  practicing love by asking the question “How can I show more love?” is actually one of the wisest things we can do.

Hospitality #1

[1] Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc. New York, NY: pg. 90.

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