I live my life by one simple law. I have one single belief. I allow all other parts of my identity rest in ideas that are more or less maluable. Nothing else in my life is laid down, nothing else carved in stone or certainty. The only thing I know for sure is that I am here to learn about love. To know it better, to live it in my life.
And, I’ve been talking about love in this vernacular for the last couple years with those close to me and to those standing in ear shot. Usually, there is a point in conversation where gazes go beyond me and eyebrows change. Their faces silently stare back a message of “you sound like a Beatles song… you naive, hippie child.” The students though in my first grade class (unknowing that such speech is contrary to the world’s practice) listens with open ears.
Everyone wants love: wants to know it, just like me. They just don’t know what it should look like or feel like, so they chase after more concrete things like happiness, pleasure, lust, obsession, self assurance, beauty,power, wealth… etc. These attempts (some good some bad) lead us down roads where we are trying to self improve, trying to become better in some facet, but often can lead us far from what love looks like at all. At times these attempts can even lead us straight to evil (an absense of love). Power is one of these things
The truth is power is easier to obtain than peace. It is easier to control someone than to love them. I am faced with this decision as a teacher every day. Should I control them, yell at them, change their card to “red”, put their name on the board, scare them with my big adult voice and so on and so on… or should I love them, respect them and show them how to be better. Often, the loud commands escape my lips as I sneak back into bad habbits and yell them into becoming good students. Convincing people through fear, however, seems much less likely to breed good human beings, than to convince them with the power of love.
In class I am teaching my students about collective vs individualistic communities in Africa. As I am describing the two, they ask with confused expressions, “well if being collective is so good Ms. E.. then how come no one does it?”
It’s true, 90% of the societies we study in school were ones who exploited others. Most empires choose to abuse their power. It seems to be human nature to give in to the greed for power.
In history we study two sorts of leaders. Those who gained power and did incredible good (Ghandi, Jesus, MLK jr) and those who gained power and did incredible evils. This wrongs us double fold because not only do we loose out on seeing the everyday citizens in “the story of our people,” but also we quickly come to identify, interalize and perpetuate the following: 1)those who exploit historically benefit and 2) those who sacrifice historicaly get screwed or killed. What sort of story does this speak to? What lessons lay beneath?
I think everyone is at some point in a position of power. Either at home as a parent, at work as a boss or manager, as a team captain, mentor, friend or partner you will find yourself amongst a choice where you can either attempt to gain control or instead give love. In an ever individualistic and capitalist society, we are trained to abuse our relationships to hoist ourselves up into “better” stronger individuals. We convince ourselves that its all about us and come to terms that no one is going to ladder us to our point in leadership, so we should step up on the shoulders of anyone placed in front of us. This is wrong. This is not love. If you don’t know that yet in your life because that lesson has not been opened to you than just trust me… its not.
We are called to make each other better: to push people beyond ourselves. When you keep someone below you, you are stealing their potential to better the world you live in. Why would you do that?
As a teacher (and I’m sure whoever reads this is a teacher in some moment of their day…) I have to gain control over my own peace in order to live in a world with so little. I need to center myself each day and remind my body with bad habbits that I am here for one purpose: to show them love and to be the best example I can be of it. If i just set my control aside (and this is hard for an over achiever), I can let all others be as beautiful as they can be. Stop judging… just enjoy them.