‘No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.’
This important quote from Mandela highlights the way in which racism is learnt. It is, of course, not inherent in our genetic makeup.
If we show our children acceptance of difference, modelling an attitude of tolerance and kindness, then we foster in them a profound respect for diversity.
Such a valuable lesson will hopefully stay with our children throughout their lives.
Respecting difference is taught by having one’s own differences respected; children need to feel that their considered views and approaches to life are valued, even if they are not the same as our own. This is love.
“When you take a lover who uncovers all your flaws, listens to the very essence of who you are, and embraces you rather than judges you, hold on to this love for a lifetime, as you will never find a love quite as pure.”
The importance of recognising and holding onto love when we do find it, is the message of this quote. There is a powerful communication here about appreciating what we have.
Gratitude strengthens and enriches relationships. If we value a thoughtful loved one, we need to ensure that the other person feels appreciated too.
This is a crucial element in a loving, functioning relationship.
Marc Chagall – A Couple at the Candelabra 
“To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation….
….Love is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world for himself for another’s sake, it is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
Rilke underlines the spiritual nature of love, how hard love is and that it is a supreme test of our strength and our maturity. Loving another involves self- awareness, self-sacrifice, unselfishness.
In order to reap the rewards that love may bring, we have to become wiser, gaining more understanding of self and other.
Ron Hicks – Kisses and Coffee Flickr.
“True love comes
when you lose
where you end
and they begin
and the atoms
in your souls
forget where they belong
and slowly you become
pieces of each other
too close now
to ever be apart.”
“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
The two quotes above highlight a very important point about love and one that may remind us of psychoanalytic theories of couple interaction.
It reveals how we tend to fall in love with people who complement our own needs; whose unconscious psychological issues mirror ours.
The poet points out that two people in a loving relationship will, in some ways, become one. Their ‘souls,’ as Bronte adds, are ‘the same.’
To gain an understanding of these important theories, the book shown below is helpful.
These two quotes above and below refer to the potential magnitude of love, its length and breadth, and the way in which love can and should spread, enlarge and expand to cover a multitude of aspects in our lives.
“Love is not just a passion of spark between two people, there is an infinite difference between falling in love and standing in love. Rather, love is a way of being, a “giving to”, not a “falling for”, a mode of relating at large, not an act limited to a single person.
Irvin D. Yalom.”
Love. Sculpture by Robert Indiana. In the Gianadda Foundation Park, Martigny.
“There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It’s true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it’s more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They’re opposites. If we’re in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we’re in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.”
Kubler-Ross underlines the stark contrast between love and fear, and the importance of choosing love and conquering fear if we are to be happy.
The quotation is thought-provoking, in that she points out that the opposite of love is not hate, but fear, which gives rise to hate and other negative emotions.
“When things fall apart and we can’t get the pieces back together, when we lose something dear to us, when they whole thing is just not working and we don’t know what to do, this is the time when the natural warmth of tenderness, the warmth of empathy and kindness, are just waiting to be uncovered, just waiting to be embraced.
This is our chance to come out of our self-protecting bubble and to realize that we are never alone. This is our chance to finally understand that wherever we go, everyone we meet is essentially just like us. Our own suffering, if we turn toward it, can open us to a loving relationship with the world.”
In similar vein, the quote below is highly relevant to this theme:
“And when something awful happens, the goodness stands out even more …”
Especially in this global pandemic, it has become apparent to many people that some of the more superficial aspects of life we might have lost are less important anyway.
What is valuable at this time of crisis is love, caring for one’s family, friends and neighbours. Especially in difficult times, we discover that many people identify with our feelings, and that we need them to empathise with us in our suffering.
We may also have found that there is actually much love and care for others, sometimes from unexpected sources. The pandemic has revealed that this is one world, where we are all depend on each other.
Finally, some wise words from Van Gogh, which sum up the wonderful creativity that cherishing many aspects of our lives can bring us.
“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”
Vincent Van Gogh
Lilac. Van Gogh. 1887.Wikimedia Commons.