WHY LOVE IS NOT THE ANSWER
(What Creates Social Transformation?)
We seem to be fond of the notion that love will cure all our ills. I do not believe this is the case. Here is why.
I hear people saying how much they love their partners, certain music, ball games, pets, and hot dogs. The word has become almost meaningless in terms of what we require it to embrace. But a lot of important terms get watered down through trivialization. So, it is context that implies the desired definition. The notion that love is the answer to human ills implies a profound devotion that compels a profound commitment. This kind of love impacts with the power that invites social transformation. And it is only social transformation that will solve our relational problems.
However, while I thrill to and embrace the imperatives that love implies, I do not believe it possible to love everybody in such a manner. It is too personal, too intense, and too time demanding. We only have the capacity to embrace a limited number of people with such profoundness. If love is not the answer, then what is the answer? What can transform the social environment so that we humans can live in harmony and collaboration? How can we relate to each other in a way that impacts with life-giving power, even in a casual manner and even if we have never met?
I believe that agent is respect for each other’s innate worth. To love a person I have to respect that person. But to respect a person I do not have to love that person. Nor do I have to agree with them. I only have to honor their worth as I honor mine. Whatever the relationship, people want their worth affirmed. They wish to be accepted as equals. This is the common ground that bridges differences. This is the embrace that creates community. This is the action that induces transformation. This bridging, creating, and inducing are the potential harvest of mutual respect.
If we wish to transform the social environment so that our differences are bridged into uniting community and transforming power, it begins with respecting the worth of everyone we encounter and behaving accordingly. Even though I have never met most of the people who inhabit the globe I can still invest in their equal worth. There is no human relation problem that cannot be solved through such mutual respect.
Robert T. Latham