Love is quite possibly the most confusing word in the English language. There are so many ways we use the term, so many different things we mean by it, and so many ways we don’t understand it at all. Yet Love is THE primary impulse we escribe to Spirit/the Universe/Life and in the Science of Mind we say “Love and Law, this is our teaching.”
So how do we make love real in our lives – not Hallmarked, not conditional, not Disneyfied, not transactional, not abstract, and not convenient – but real? All month we will be exploring Love as a Verb rather than simply a Noun and examining what types of dysfunctional expressions of love we want to disrupt!
Black History Month
How utterly appropriate, or should we say ironic, that the Love Month is also Black History Month. Could any people have been less loved than the enslaved Africans brought to our shores for the expansion of the White man’s economic engine? Now we all know the Golden Rule “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Although it’s stated in different ways, it is at the heart of all the world’s religions.
Immanuel Kant provided us with a philosophical rendering of the Golden Rule which he called “the Categorical Imperative.” It is best known in its original formulation: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” A second formulation, less well known but my personal favorite “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.”
So, it’s okay to have employees that are the means to fulfilling the production of the widget you invented, but never to forget that they have dreams and goals and desires of their own and must be supported and empowered as individuals as well.
There is a third formulation of the categorical imperative that contains much of the same as the first two and is too convoluted to quote. However, what it basically means is that “we must will something that we could at the same time freely will of ourselves. In other words, it is not enough that the right conduct be followed, but that one also demands that conduct of oneself.” In other words, it’s not just about how others behave, we have to hold ourselves to the same standards.
Clearly the Golden Rule and the Categorical Imperative were not applied to those enslaved. Neither those who traded and owned slaves, nor those who were complicit in the slave trade, held themselves to this higher standard. It is imperative that we claim the felt/lived/embodied experience that African Americans and Black people are, and always have been, human beings who deserve to be seen and treated as equal – people with their own lives, power, and will to create and be rather than being a means for someone else’s ends.
Seeing someone only as a means to our own ends robs that person, or group of people, of their humanity and dignity, reducing them to the level of domesticated animals or machines. While we ourselves may not be actively engaged in using others as a means to our own ends, we must recognize the deep personal impact this history has on our family, friends, community, and neighbors who are Black.
Celebrating Black History Month invites us into a truly empowering relationship with each other. Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate the impulse of Love that has flowered into the creations, inventions, expressions, and lives of people who are Black while acknowledging and respecting the overwhelming damage done by the legacy of slavery in the US.
Now it is our turn to Make Love Real and follow the impulse of Life as it is seeking to express as us. We Make Love Real when we notice and respect an African American’s experience and point of view. We Make Love Real when we explore the ways we may be unconsciously contributing to perpetuating a subtle bias of less than. We Make Love Real when we work to remove institutionalized and systemic biases that play out in so many ways in our nation.
This means we commit, individually and collectively, to treat Black people always as ends and never as merely means to an end. While it’s doesn’t sound like it comes from the heart, it is a powerful commitment and a deep expression of Love.