Love Is The Opposite of Fear

The opposite of love is not hate or ignorance, but fear.  Fear is the easier path.  Let me suggest that fear, not money, is the root of all evil.  When we play on people’s fears, we can get them to do just about anything.  Fear is what keeps power over others intact.  As I will point out throughout this audiobook, fear in itself is not a bad thing.  Fear lets us know that a need is not being met.  It is the unbridled, unchecked fear that is not put into perspective that is the root of all evil.

A professor of mine taught that we all have an objectified reality, a life outlook, if you will.  It is a lens in which we look through to see the world.  How we see the world determines how we interact with it and, more importantly, how we love.  This lens is shaped by religion, philosophy, and everyday experiences.  It seems from my observations that fear is the lens that most of us are looking through today.

Fear creates the looking-out-for-number-one attitude that I see in the world.  We have become focused on competition, winning, and the bottom line.  We fear that there is a lack of resources so we compete for them, make others lose, and only give worth to those things that raise our bottom line.  Many of us do not consider reacting to our fears in this way as violent but it is.

We also fear being alone so we become dependent on others, consumer goods, and noise.  Sadly, marketing firms know this and use it to sell their products.  Fear is also used to control others.  If we give people something to fear, for example Hell, terrorist threats, or abandonment, then we can play them like a fiddle.  If these same people free themselves from these fears, then we lose our control over them.  What most call the domination system thrives on fear.  To keep power over some one, those in power must give their minions something to fear.  This happens in families, workplaces, communities, religious groups, and countries.  In order for the minions to free themselves from the powers that be, all they have to do is recognize their fears for the power play that it is.  I will talk about this more later.

An example from my own life of how fear operates is the countless times I have feared losing my job.  My daily actions on the job were driven by fear.  Every day I allowed abuse to happen to me and my co-workers.  In turn I abused anyone that kept me from looking good in the eyes of my bosses.  I was an obedient servant, never standing up for myself.  I acted superior around new workers and made sure they suffered the same abuse I had suffered.  Surprisingly, I also tried my hardest to help them in ways that no one had helped me.  It was as if love and fear were fighting over my soul.  At the end of the day, counting the many times I had lost my temper, fear had still won out.

There are many examples of this played out in history as well.  Anytime in history we see the domination of others or the allowing of domination, fear was the driving force.  In theological circles this is recognized as Royal theology versus Peasant theology.

We fear what we cannot control.  We fear the possibilities.  But a fulfilling life is a life of possibilities.  A life trying to control everything is a stressed out and unfulfilled life.  As John Lennon put it, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  As much as we like to think we can, we just cannot control what happens in life.  Life just happens.  We want to control life because we want to make sure certain needs are met.  It is understandable because we all have basic needs that we want to see met.  In the Pink Floyd song, The Gunners Dream, there is a excerpt that really touches on the needs we all want met.

The middle of the song starts to talk about the dream world the gunner wishes to live in.  This place has food and shelter for all.  It is safe from terrorism, legalism, fascism, and most other ism’s.  People don’t need to hide their doubts and fears inside themselves.  One side of the track is not better than the other.  The laws are reasonable and followed willingly.  Most importantly, the vulnerable are taken care of the best of all.

To what was listed in the song, I would add that we need to have a purpose.  When we fear that these needs will not be met then we act in ways that are aggressive, active or passive.  We try to control all circumstances to get our needs met.  This of course goes against the concept of life just happening.  We may wonder, is there any action we can take or are we to just let life happen?

Let me suggest that love is an action we can take because it does not seek to control, nor is it busy making other plans.   Love goes along with the flow of life.  In fact, love is the only tool we have to help us deal with life just happening.  We love in spite our fears, struggles, and/or dangers we may face.  We do it to help each other out and not act aggressive towards each other.  Using love is the best way we can get our needs met and also meet the needs of others.

Those we fear we cannot love.  I personally fear those we have allowed to have power over us.  Particularly, those in corporate settings.  I fear the tactics they use to get and sell goods to us.  I fear their lack of ethics.  My fear leads me to have nothing but disgust and hatred towards them.  However, I will become no better than my perceived enemies if I let my fear consume me.  It is only when we work through our fears, understand or embrace them that we are able to love.  When we use love as our lens to see the world, we still will face our fears.  However, when we do the work of love that I will lay out in the coming chapters, we will no longer be consumed by our fears.  We will take loving actions to counter our fears and the violence that accompanies fear.  It is my hope that my definition of love will give you concrete actions to help you with your fears.  Before we look at my definition of love and the work it involves there is still one more thing to address about the current state of love.

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Love Out of Balance

When it comes to love it seems that we all fall on one side or the other of a specific spectrum.  Some land in the middle.  How we get to be where we are on the spectrum, I really don’t know.  It could be dependent upon how we deal with our abandonment issues as a child.  It could be how we were raised.  I really don’t know and I will leave it up to the experts to decide.  What’s important here is to acknowledge that we fall on the spectrum some where.  Imagine a line with arrows going in opposite directions.  On the right side of the spectrum you have Self-love.  On the left side you have love of others or what I will call, Other-love.

lovespectrum

Self-love and other-love are the glue of the world.  We all need both in our lives.  However, what I have been observing and the reason I started writing about love is that there is in the lives of many an unbalance between the two.  Problems arise when there is no balance and we have too much of one or the other.  I am sure we have all met people that only care about themselves or we have met people that neglect themselves to care for others.  If we are honest with ourselves we can identify where we personally fit on this spectrum.  Sometimes we can go from one side to the other and back again.  I hardly observe a balance of the two.  Balance between self-love and other-love is a crucial goal of these teachings.

So why is balance so important?  Because without balance fear can easily pervert these two kinds of love into apathy and sympathy.  If we think about this spectrum again, then we can see what happens when we have too much of one or the other in our lives.

Selflove

If we move too far to the right on the side of self-love, it creates a wedge of  being selfish and self-centered.

I call this state apathy.  Apathy is when I care about nothing outside of me.  If we introduce fear into the equation through self preservation we get acts of outward violence ranging from neglect all the way to murder.

otherlove

On the flip side of the spectrum if we move too far to the left on the side of other-love we create a wedge of becoming a martyr or a self-loather.  I call this state sympathy.  Sympathy is when I, in an unhealthy and unhelpful way, care about everything outside of me.  If we introduce fear into the equation we get acts of inward violence ranging from neglect all the way to suicide.  What is worse is that both types of violence, inward and outward, can easily lead to and feed off of each other.

I fall on the side of other-love with some trips to the self-love side.  Ask your self where do you fall and how far do you allow yourself to go?  Most people land on one side or the other with trips to the opposite side, but few land right in the middle.  What is the middle?  Balance.

Balance is what I would like to see us all strive for.  Not because balance will make our lives free of pain and suffering, but because balance is worth striving for despite the pain and suffering.  Once we start to have it we will begin to see the benefits.  What does balance look like in contrast to the love spectrum?  Well, if we use the Taoist symbol of Yin and Yang or the infinity symbol, we have self-love and other-love melting together into an infinite cycle of balance.

balancelove

One does not over take the other. They are balanced.  To achieve and keep this balance it takes work.  Anything worth doing takes work.  I will talk about the work involved later on.

The state of this balance I call empathy.  Empathy is when I care to understand what is going on both inside of me and inside others.  This can be emotional, spiritual, physical, and psychological.  And when we introduce fear into this balance, fear transforms into love.  If a person is empathetic and meets someone that is fearful, the empathetic person transforms that fear into love because that person understands at a deep level that fear is the response to an unmet need.  In the story of the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan empathized with the beaten Jewish man.  The Samaritan put himself in the Jewish man’s shoes and transformed his fear of the Jewish culture and religion into love for him.  He put aside his preconceived ideas and prejudices and helped.

This kind of love is not easy.  It involves work and being unselfish, yet there is something wonderful about it.  Love is all we need to make this world bearable.  There will always be suffering and hardships, but if we put a new perspective on our thinking, we can live a more fulfilling life.

Love Is A Choice

First thing we need to understand is that love is a choice.  It is a choice we make every waking second of every day.  It is a choice because love is a gift.  It is like the gift of breath that we receive from the Source of all that is.  Unlike the gift of breath, which is automatic, love is work.  We have to make a conscious effort to do the work of love.  We have to choose to use the gift so graciously given to us.  When we wake up in the morning we choose whom we will give the gift of love to, be it others or ourselves.  We can also choose not to use the gift at all.  The important concept here is that using the gift of love is a conscious choice.  Let me share why it is an important concept to grasp.

I had a friend that was reluctant to get engaged.  His girlfriend was sure that being engaged was what she really wanted.  So he caved in and proposed.  However, after the novelty of it had worn off, she became fearful and doubtful of the decision.  It could have been because some friction in the relationship or meeting someone she thought was a better fit.  Whatever the reason, the doubt and fear was there.  She didn’t know if my friend was “the one.”  She has bought into the current marketing scheme that there is one true love out there and all she has to do is find him.  She is not alone.  However, the truth be told: there’s a plethora of people you could possibly spend the rest of your life with.  It’s really a matter of choosing one and choosing to love them everyday.  It’s also a matter of choosing to make sure neither person’s needs is overpowering the other.  A while back there was an ad campaign for an online matching sight that stated the idea of “All you need is love” was a myth. Deep compatibility was what they where shooting for. And no offense to anyone who has used this service, but I can’t help but wonder why they would say that deep compatibility was so important. As if deep compatibility is what keeps a relationship long lasting. One thing that they never mention is how many relationship matches ended in break up or divorce. I could almost hear the Apostle Paul saying in response that if I had all the compatibility in the world yet had not love, I am nothing.
Love is still the most important thing in a long term relationship. You don’t have to be deeply compatible to have a long term relationship. All you have to do is the work of love every day and the reciprocity of that work needs to be given back to you. And by reciprocity I mean getting your needs met while meeting their needs without being a martyr or taker. When a couple, a family, a community can do that for each other with reciprocity, then the relationship will be long and strong. NO RECIPROCITY OF LOVE, NO LONG LASTING RELATIONSHIP! It doesn’t matter how deeply compatible you are.
Now being deeply compatible does help, but let’s think about it this way. When it comes to the likelihood of reciprocity of love in a relationship, being each others equal puts that likelihood higher. However, not being each others equal does not mean reciprocity of love is impossible. The couple will just have to be more willing work at nurturing each other. By being each others equal I mean this. On a spiritual, emotional, psychological, intellectual, physical, leisurely and sexual level, the couple is in the same place. When the couple is at the same level and they chose to do the work of love, it is easier for them to meet each others needs because they will most likely have similar needs that can be mutually met. Reciprocity will more likely happen.
Now what happens when a couple (and this can be extended to all human relationships) is not each others equal? And I purposely say “not each others equal” so no blame can be singly placed on one person. One cannot say it’s all my partners fault. If your partner is not your equal then you are not their equal either. If they are not meeting your needs, then you are probably not meeting theirs either. And don’t expect or go into a relationship expecting them to become your equal. I am not saying that it can’t happen, but you should not place that expectation on them. I has to be a part of their nurturing of their true self. If their true self turns out to be equal to you then all the happiness to you. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. If they are not your equal now, they probably won’t be (not impossible, but not likely). There are many relationships that end in frustration because one person thought they could change the other. DON’T DO IT! You have to chose to love them for who they are. I hope this all conveys a small part of the work involved in loving someone and why we have to make conscious choice to love.
Writer Sherman Alexia backs me up on this point.

In his short story “Saint Junior” found in the book The Toughest Indian In The World, Alexia describes the love between the main characters, Roman and Grace, as a choice.  He says that Roman realizes that he not only loves his wife, Grace, but he chose her and continues to choose her every day he wakes up.  Roman also thinks that anyone that does not believe that love is a choice is just fooling themselves.  If people don’t choose who they love then they just end up with whomever happens into their lives.  Those that just happen into peoples lives can end up being abusive, lazy, not supportive, and life drainers.  Love just doesn’t magically happen.  Love is work that you are not paid for in currency but rather in a long-lasting relationship.  Because it is work that is why you have to choose to do it for better or for worse.

This is so true, but it is not only true for marriage.  It is also true for any relationship.  Whether it be a friend, co-worker, student, child, enemy or ourselves, love is a choice.  We have to choose to love these people.  It is not automatic.  We would like it to be.  In fact some believe it is.  They think that people automatically love them and they automatically love the other person in return.  And when it doesn’t happen automatically, we blame others and ourselves.  We try to put love in automatic mode because we choose fear over love.  We fear the work involved and settle for a pseudo-relationship, something shallow and fake.

When we choose fear, instead of nurturing each other, we eventually start to compete with one another.  We compete by seeing who is the better friend or, worst yet, who can get more out of the relationship.  Now again, fear is not all that bad.  Fear lets us know that a need must be met.  You see, when we choose to do the work of love we need to know that it will work.  I believe that if we follow my definition we will see that it does work.  It may take some time and patience, but eventually the work pays off.  We enter into a deeper relationship with that person.  When struggles enter into the relationship, and they will, we choose to forge ahead and do the work of love.  We leave the shallowness of our past pseudo-relationships and move on to the next step, which is being humble.  But before we look at being humble I need say something about divorce.

Divorce is usually the result when couples sadly think that love is automatic.  No one taught them to choose to love each other every waking day.  Any relationship that does not see that love is a choice when things get rough, will most likely end up in divorce.  But that is not to say that all couples that get a divorce failed to see love as a choice or stopped choosing to love each other.  Through love they realized that they could not meet each others needs.  In a perfect world both couples realize this, but sometimes only one of them realized it.  Sometimes divorce is the only loving action that will truly nurture both couples.  This is especially true when abuse is taking place.  It is important not to see it as a failure, but instead see it as a best possible way to love that person. When you are not each others equal you have two choices. Decide that you don’t want to or don’t have the capacity to put in the extra effort of choosing to humbly finding ways to holistically nurture their true self, thus ending the relationship, be it divorce or break up. And please listen to me when I say that if there is no reciprocity of love, especially in abusive situations, then the most loving action you can take is to divorce or break up with that person. The other choice is to humbly say we are not the best people to meet each others needs, but we can work on it. That can take on the form of being willing to allow others to meet that need for your partner or finding creative ways to meet that need without sacrificing your own needs. As long as each person does the work of love and reciprocity is present, then the relationship will continue. If this cannot happen then divorce is the loving path.