‘Society must be organised in such a way that man’s social, loving nature is not separated from his social existence, but becomes one with it.’*
I can’t recall anyone arguing for the United Kingdom to leave or remain in the European Union in order to generate more love amongst European countries and around the world. I’m imagining I’d have to trawl long and hard through the words defining the 2016 United States Presidential Election to find such a concern. When I go back in time to my schooldays, I can’t remember being taught about love and its importance to history or geography or the sciences.
It doesn’t have to be the word love per se; it might be various dimensions or aspects of love; compassion, forgiveness, care, kindness, openness … .
Erich Fromm wrote about how we’re caught in a comfortable system but are not really free:
‘All activities are subordinated to economic goals, means have become ends, man is an automaton – well-fed, well-clad, but without any ultimate concern for that which is his peculiarly human quality and function. If man is to love, he must be put in his supreme place. The economic machine must serve him, rather than he serve it. He must be enabled to share experience, to share work, rather than, at best, share profits.’*
Perhaps in the future it will be different:
‘Humanity is an aspiration we must pursue.’**
For what it means to be human, we need to look forwards rather than backwards and will include growing our capacity to appreciate and develop the art of loving, with imagination, creativity and fun. It often doesn’t feel appropriate to talk about love in politics, in education and in business but why not? I imagine another growth spurt for the human race, a spurt that will benefit the whole planet.
Maybe these words from the Buddha imagine something of our future:
“When your mind is filled with love, send it in one direction, then a second, a third, and a fourth, then above, then below. Identify with everything without hatred, resentment, anger or enmity. The mind of love is very wide. It grows immeasurably and eventually is able to embrace the whole world.”^
Peter Senge draws out how flourishing human society benefits the whole world:
‘A regenerative society is about life flourishing, not just human life.’^^
(*From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving.)
(**Alex McManus: source lost.)
(^The Buddha, quoted in Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.)
(^^From Peter Senge’s The Necessary Revolution.)