I think it’s safe to say that most of us have trudged through days in which we steer clear of mirrors, to avoid looking into our own, unsavory eyes.
The sound of our own voices is like sandpaper being stuffed into our ears on the tip of a ballpoint pen.
I have had plenty of days when I have walked around mumbling under my breath “Dumbass, dumbass, dumbass…” for something I did, didn’t do, said or didn’t say.
Occasional bouts of self-doubt and perhaps a touch of self-loathing are pretty natural to the human condition. We are imperfect beings and at times our imperfection becomes unbearable.
Developing a healthy amount of self-respect and self-worth are important to leading a balanced life, but it seems that lately the world has gone crazy with the concept of self-love. Every time I turn my computer on, my screen is blasted with articles about how to love myself, how to love my body, how to love me, me, me.
Internal love is relevant to a purposeful life, but if we start by loving one another first, we might discover that our compassion and humility will light the path to finding our true selves
Truth—we are living in crazy, unbalanced world. Every day we witness new and terrifying evidence of climate change, unequal distribution of wealth, religious persecution, racial discrimination, hatred and violence in more sizes, shapes and colors than our brains can realistically process.
We are on an overcrowded bus, hurtling down a mountain pass, with questionable brakes…and the raving mad driver is an enormous creature, whose name is comprised of only three letters: E–G–O.
The world’s major crises have arisen because we place our own comfort, ideas, ideologies, values, dogmas and traditions above those of others. Egocentrism has led us to the brink of annihilation.
The world’s major religions confer that our primary responsibility is to love and respect others. Here are just a few examples:
“May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes,
May all sentient beings be free of suffering and its causes,
May all sentient beings never be separated from bliss without suffering,
May all sentient beings be in equanimity, free of bias, attachment and anger.”
~ Brahma Viharas
“When you feel the suffering of every living thing in your own heart, that is consciousness. “
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another”
“Allah will say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Where are those who love one another through My glory?”
~ Prophet sall-Allaahu Alayhi wa sallam
“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall help him to lift it up.”
~ Exodus 23:4-5
This great, marketing push to encourage self-love comes in response to our disconnection from the rest of the world.
The cult of busy, the persistent distraction of technology in our lives, the media reminding us 435,076 times a day that we are different because of race, creed, economics, geography, species…all of this has kept us in isolation and disconnected from the rest of the universe.
Feelings of isolation, especially from the natural world, lead us to question our own worth.
Perhaps that is why we have created such an overwhelming demand to sell self-love, and unfortunately, there is precious little talk about the essentiality of loving others.
We must also be aware that there is an enormous difference between loving and liking:
Loving is mandatory, liking is optional. It is quite possible to love people that we don’t particularly like.
Loving others is a commitment to practice respect, consideration and to wish peace and happiness to all other beings- true compassion. It does not mean that we have to invite everyone over for dinner every night, loan money every time we’re asked or leave care packages on the kitchen counter for our cockroaches.
When I was a kid, my mother used to tell me that “when people are the most unlovable, it’s when they most need to be loved” and I have kept that in mind ever since.
If we give ourselves over to the life of altruistic love, we will find ourselves intimately connected to everything under the sun. Opening our lives to pure, unconditional love will help us to discover our true place, in this crazy scheme of being and the ensuing result will be a wildly passionate love affair with life.
When we comprehend our true capacity to love others, plants, animals, differences and contradictions, loving ourselves will be easy and natural. If we start by loving ourselves first, we run the risk of perpetuating the egocentric patterns that have lead us to this precarious point in our history.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr
So much depends on our commitment to love.
Author: Peter Schaller
Editor: Emma Ruffin
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