Love and hate form the landscape

love-hateIt’s been a grim week from many perspectives. Just over a week ago 49 LGBTQ people were killed in an Orlando night club. A mere few days ago Jo Cox, a young MP in the UK, known for her advocacy for refugees, was brutally murdered while coming out of her surgery. To list these two events is of course to only touch into the deep pool of violence that mars our human experience of the world.

The aftermath of each awful event shared characteristics too, these more hopeful, though tinged with grief and appropriate anger. Each brutal act was met by a massive reassertion of love, heartfelt sorrow and human solidarity, with events, particularly for Orlando, crossing all sorts of national, religious and ideological frontiers. Perhaps this is a deep rhythm of our times, where each act of destruction generates a corresponding wave of determined, toughened-up and expanded caring. Perhaps our collective fate will finally depend on the strength of this responsive wave, it’s ability to accumulate force from each atrocity, to meet each invitation into insanity with a steely refusal. We must not close down.

Each of these recent examples also underlines the case that the many forms of love, who we love, and the extent to which our love is inclusive is of great consequence, and not simply personal.

It also reminds us that fear is vulnerable to the henchman we call hate, and each are substantial forces that do not whither when their underlying causes are unattended to by wider society or the resources of community.

Each way, we are reminded that the potent forces of bodily emotion – the ways in which we become open or closed, the intensity of flight or flight – are all shaping contemporary events and the energy of ideas. Look only a little into each story and it’s not hard to see the very different consequences of unacknowledged personal and social trauma or humiliation, contrasted with the affiliation and resourcefulness resulting from secure experiences of mutual respect, caring and dignity. Our sense of community and our embrace for each other is an entirely tangible quality with entirely concrete results. In short, the still largely unaddressed life of the body is in powerful play at present, generating and shaping events at present. The embodiment community has an important role to play here surely.

Love and hate form the landscape around which we build our identities. They are the bright mountains and the dark ravines around which we build the structures of who we are. This is why the wisdom traditions did not leave these areas to chance, but each in their own way developed practices and understandings that built up our human capacity to love and whittled away at our human capacity for hate.

Again, these are matters of great consequence, and not simply personal.