At the end of 2008 we still face the Deadliest Disease. We still see greed and racism all around us. Insecurity and competition still drive us to sabotage one another. Our economy is in shambles. I know the cure to the Deadliest Disease: it’s love.
Doesn’t it sound so simple? If we only loved each other as much as we love ourselves, all our problems would be solved.
I have to admit, though, that this solution would lead to a whole new set of problems because we don’t truly love ourselves. I think most of us don’t know the true meaning of love (myself included.) We throw around phrases like, “If he really loved me, he’d buy me that car.” Or, “If she really loved me, she’d do what I want.” And my favorite, “If you loved me, you wouldn’t do me that way.” But this isn’t the essence of love.
Recently I’ve been feeling drained by numerous conversations about racism and healthcare and I’d forgotten what moved me in the first place to take on this work. It really is the belief that there is good in everyone and that people want to make the right choices—but because we’ve become so separated from our internal compasses, from the voice of God within us, we perceive the world through a kaleidoscope of misconceptions.
I spend all day talking with people about race relations and capitalism and disparities in health care. What I’ve found is that some of people who swear they’re the leaders in closing the gap are the biggest perpetrators. They don’t move forward with love for their fellow human beings but instead operate with contempt based in superiority.
Our society’s greatest misconceptions are about race. Webster’s defines race as, “a local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.” However, this definition is misleading because it depends on genetics. Race has simply no genetic basis. Ask any scientist. People of one “race” may be very different culturally, yet very similar genetically. A study was done where all the participants came from very divergent cultural backgrounds and locales. It revealed that the DNA sampling of an African American in America was more similar to an Asian in China or a Caucasian in Australia than to another African American.
The first human was black: scientists have shown that our earliest ancestor lived in central Africa. It’s absurd for us to treat one person as less than another based on such arbitrary distinctions as “race.” The truth is that, although human differences span a number of different spectra, we all began in the same place – Africa, which makes every person on the planet some degree of Black (this includes George W. Bush.)
Just imagine what the world would be like if we followed any of the great teachings. First Corinthians 13 says:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
This is one of my favorite times of year because people from so many great traditions attempt to celebrate real love. As I move forward on my journey I’m learning to love and respect myself more. This leads me to love and respect my fellow brothers and sisters more. As I reflect on this tremendous year, I believe that the love vibration is spreading. This is a good thing. We have the cure for the Deadliest Disease in America. We hold it within us.
The Buddhist tradition teaches:
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings:
Radiating kindness over the entire world.
The Bahia say:
Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.
God’s love radiates out from our core to the rest of our beings. We’re never separate from it. Love invites us to accept ourselves just the way we are. To grow and evolve. We rest in this assurance now and throughout the year. God is love: love expressing itself within us and as us.
Our country and our world are at their greatest crossroads. So let us pick up the shield and sword of love, and pierce every heart as we take a step forward into a new world.