Love in a Ghastly Time

In our last #WeContainMultitudes, Akwasi Aidoo, poet, human rights and peace advocate, and engaged philanthropy professional opened the conversation by talking about perceived antimonies – Summertime in Winter – and inviting participants into a dialogue and deliberation on the paradoxes and antagonisms evident in a world seemingly blown to pieces: pandemics, inequality, extremism, climate change, emigration crises and sadness.

Akwasi reflected that he was, himself, meditating on the question of how to align three timeframes – hindsight, insight and foresight – as a way of transforming the future instead of dwelling on the past. Quoting Hungarian Jewish philosopher Friedrich von Hügel, he proposed that we not forget us that “the golden rule is to help those you love to escape from you”.

And so, the subject of love became a thread that wove its way throughout the conversation and captivated many of us looking for how to encourage – give courage to – the change we want and need to see.

What will love do was a question and how will it do it? Where and how does – can – love stand vis-à-vis anger? When so much of what we see in the public domain is more about anger than love, and we are constantly reminded about what we should be angry about, how can we be effective agents of change able to love, to reach the angry person, the angry mob, the angry neighbour we cross paths with? How can we become more adept at harnessing the power of love?

These important questions raised by Lisa, echoed by others, expanded upon by Sue who asked how we might feel and stand up with righteous indignation (anger) even whilst organising around love or organising for love.

How do we organise around love but not exclude organizing around what enrages us, around what is unjust? How might love become the driver of transformation? How can we live with, and even embrace the paradoxes, become better facilitators and agents of the kinds of conversations, actions, and transformation the world needs? How can we apply the golden rule of love that Akwasi raised so early in the conversation?

We know that more of the same will get us more of the same. So how can we step up with another level of integrity, commitment, and capacity that gets us beyond the circular antagonisms and into another realm of relationships? Exercising kindness, love, respect, listening, and acting individually and collectively…as if the future of our children and grandchildren matters

This will be the topic for further exploration in the #WeContainMultitudes conversation on 18th February 2021.

We are delighted that we will be collaborating with the OMEGA Group to broaden the conversation to its members in February. OMEGA is a learning community focused on our Global Challenges seeking to engage views from across the global spectrum of perspectives and opinions in an effort to engage diverse views, sectors and strategies in order to cultivate real hope and drive actions that strengthen resilience for all.

OMEGA’s January conversation reflected upon the recent report Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future and surfaced the potential for love to be a transformative, restorative and collectively healing force. Recognising how deeply embedded we are in, and integrated with nature, the conversation reflected on whether humanity would save what it does not love and asked what it would take to establish a deeper connection – a love – for humanity and for nature; a love essential for protecting the system that sustains us, of which we are a part.

With common interests and a deep love and shared commitment to the future, we are excited to have OMEGA join us in February to explore this more fully.

“We have become dangerous to each other while this virus hops from one to another. …. Yet there are people coming closer together, knowing the danger. Knowing that it’s dangerous, they’re still taking that step to love someone else, whether it’s in their household or bringing food to a neighbour, and that’s love. Thinking about these terms like reciprocity and collectively and the new politics – one of the things I think I’m trying to regain sight of is: what is holding it together and what is excluding other people from it. In all of our rational, academic side – we don’t have even words for what makes that happen but I think it’s love. It’s not money, I don’t know how you value it. …. if you focus on love, it’s the humanity in that love that would allow us to find a different politics, I think.”.

Lucy Bernholz