TRUE OPINION: With the reverberations of a viral pandemic as well as environmental and social crises being felt across the planet, what the world needs now is love and lots of it, writes novelist and lawyer Miles Hunt.
What the world needs now is love. Lots of it! We need to infect our lives with it – maybe the wrong verb to use in the time of Covid, but the sentiment is right, especially now, when our world has been turned upside down, and our political and economic systems stands on the brink. On the brink of what, I am not sure – but I don’t really want to find out.
Right now, we have a pandemic out of control, sweeping across the world, people powerless to stop it as it leaves behind a trail of death. Caused by people slicing and dicing exotic wild animals – animals that really shouldn’t be eaten (have you seen the Pangolin?).
We have two great powers locked in a battle for supremacy, with tensions escalating, and countries and people just pawns in their powers games. And there’s a sense of powerlessness as it all unfolds – a desperate hope that it doesn’t lead to war.
We have an economic system based on perpetual growth, which is slowly destroying our home – the planet we need to survive. Our political system is a mess.
Democracy is being thundered out by authoritarian, and voters are heading for the doors – fed up with a system that doesn’t seem to care about anyone, unless they pay for the opportunity in a sizeable donation to the appropriate political party.
Our financial system is based on greed, with money and wealth all but disconnected from any tangible good – just decimal places on a screen, with asset bubbles boiling ever upward, all while regular folk can’t buy a house, and the top 1% suck away more and more of the pie, leaving a growing population of billions, across the world, fighting whatever crumbs are left.
We are divided now, as much as any time in history – divided by race and class and sex, divided between the haves and the have nots, the educated and the forgotten, the rich and the poor, those that want to keep the world as it is and those that want to rip it apart, between the old and the young, the left and the right, the greenies and the nationalists, the globalists and the socialist and the capitalists and the anarchists and libertarians, and everything in between. We should be working together, finding a way though, loving, not fighting, each other.
The answer came to me in a vision – a revolution of love. Forget trying to fix a broken system, fighting against ecological destruction and greed, protesting state brutality, political corruption and rising inequality. By rising up against it, we give it credence and authority; we accept it as the way from which any change can occur. We need to forget all that. Start again with a new way– the way of love.
Let’s leave the other stuff behind –push it down the river. Forget Let it go, like pesky unwanted thoughts during meditation. Time to start again. Build a system, a new way. It may seem like a simple solution to an impossibly complex problem. But sometimes simple is best, especially when complexity just delays any change.
How do we deal with Indigenous inequality, and systemic racism? This is an issue that needs a lot of work, and I am no expert, not even an amateur, having had all the benefits of being a privileged white male an all. But perhaps we start with love – start by loving Indigenous people here and across the world. I mean, they did look after their patches of the earth for many thousands of years before European Colonisation. The First Nations People of this continent lived in harmony with it for 40,000 years. And it has only taken 200-odd years since the conquest, to leave it a complete mess again. That care of the land deserves respect, admiration, love. And the treatment of Aboriginal people since – murder, genocide, slavery, displacement, stolen land, stolen people, stolen kids, incarceration, and discrimination – that deserves apology, compensation and tireless work to redress the situation, but also it also requires empathy, and love. Always love for our fellow human beings; whatever their skin colour, whatever land mass they originated.
Police brutality is a separate but related issue. Obviously it effects some more than others (especially minorities, the Indigenous, the young, the poor, and the disenfranchised), and is perpetrated by some more than others – there are always a few ‘bad apples’, in the police, everywhere. And those wrongs can’t be fixed, can’t be undone and justice needs to be served. But the police have a tough job too; and at times, it must be awful trying to enforce the law, always be the bad guys. Maybe they need some love as well. It may bring them back to the community – as protectors of the peace – making them better, making the whole justice system a fairer.
A ‘service’ that protects the community is much better than a ‘force’ that sees enemies amongst civilians everywhere.
The drug crisis needs love too. Love for addicts, love for all. We are all human. We all have vices – the stoner is no worse than the drinker or the caffeine-head, psychedelics as important as medicines. Let’s move on. Stop criminalising, start loving.
How do we solve climate change? Let’s start by loving the earth. Remembering we have a duty to protect it for ourselves and our children and their children – we are guardians of this paradise of life. Does anyone really want to see it dug-up and polluted and destroyed? Annihilated into the dust of time? We are all humans with a common interest in keeping this, our planetary home, alive.
Together we can make things better. Live for love, not money, for people not profit. Make each choice about what is best for all life (not just for you or me). What is best for all of us collectively is actually best for us individually too – just as selfless action leads to happiness while selfish action leads to unhappiness.
Our future is bound together on this lonely planet at the far end of the Milky Way. It may be the only planet that can support life in the entire universe – a bazillion to one shot! A miracle! We have a duty to protect it, to love it, for it is us, and we are it, and we only have one way forward… and that is together.
We need to get back to nature. Being out in nature is good for the soul – it is a constant meditation. Disconnect from the computer, from the internet, from the phone, and take a walk, in the forest or on the beach. Connect with the trees. Look up at the sky and see the stars. Move out of the city and to the sea, or to the land. Build a farm and grow your own fruit and vegetables. Feel your hands on the soil that sustains us. There are so many ways to do it. And it will fill you with love, which you can pass on, or pay forward, as they say.
The truth is that those choices may mean some financial pain, some inherent loss. Maybe not as much material wealth – not as many decimal places in the online bank account. Sure, but remember it is relationships that matter in life, and love will help them along. Love is what is remembered, cherished, spoken of at the end, as we shift off this mortal coil. And if everyone has less stuff, then you don’t need as much to buy it.
It might sound corny. As if I’m writing a song for a pop band. Plenty of bands sing about love: the title of this article is one such song; and the Beatles told us ‘all we need is love’. They are not alone. They all do – the musicians and the artists, religious leaders and philosophers of old – Jesus, MLK, Gandhi, Socrates, Shakespeare, Mandela, Mohammed and the Buddha – there is one concept that connects them all through time and space – from ancient Greece to spiritual India to the modern West – and that is the need for humans to love one another; to treat each other as they wish to be treated; to love, love, love.
Firstly, we need to love ourselves again. We have been given this gift of life (whether by an omnipotent God, endless luck or the coming into being of the universal consciousness). And it is a gift – to be cherished and used in the most positive ways possible. Love yourself, and this love will spiral out to those around. If you say something nice about someone, they feel good – and it goes on and on. In the seminal words of Paul McCartney, a parting gift in the final seconds of the Beatles final album: And in the end, the love you make, is equal to the love you take.
Loving families and friends is pretty easy – at least in theory. They are on this crazy life journey with us. They give it all meaning, in the relationships we create and forge, in the special people with which we choose to spend our days. People on their death bed, don’t talk of their jobs, their wealth, they talk of their children, their partners, the people that matter most to them, the people that made their life.
Let’s cherish every moment we share. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that each life is fragile, and can be taken away at any moment. We should tell them all – our mums and dads, our brothers and sisters, our children and our friends – just how much we love, how much they mean to us, how special they are, what strength of character they have, and why we love them. Tell the now; every day; when it is needed. Love is a great healer – like a magical potion that can repair even the deepest wounds.
We need to reconnect to our communities too – they are what bind us together, giving us purpose while providing the social interaction so integral to the human condition. People are social beings, and community is essential to our happiness. And we have lost a little bit of that, in the speeding up of life. I know so many, myself included, screaming out for a sense of community. We want to live in a place where people care about each other.
With the advent of phones, the internet and digital technology, we are closer now than ever, we can communicate with people across the country, or the globe, with a click of a button. We can share in group discussions with our friends, we can know what others are up to and post public photos of our days, but we have also lost the community spirit that once bound us together – be it meeting at the pub or attending church or town hall meetings, or even stopping for a chat on the street, or to talk to a neighbour about nothing in particular. They have become things of the past when they should be things of the future.
Finally, we need to love humanity. Move on from this hatred and divide. Let’s forgive and forget. Learn to love everyone, even those we fundamentally disagree with, because even if their opinions are different, or they follow different teams or have different political perspectives, ultimately they are people too, and as people we have more similarities than differences, more things than bind us than break us apart. Remember, we all eat and drink and go to bed each night and dream; we all have emotions, jobs and daily struggles, we all have fears and aspirations, we all love something or someone, we were all born and we will all die, and right now we are all alive and in this together.
Maybe Burt Bacharach knew what he was singing about.