EDITORIALS

‘The Subject Tonight is Love’

Lisa Yates, Editor

Now that I have your attention, please let me explain.

“The Subject Tonight is Love” is the title of a poem by Hafiz – a Persian poet born in either 1315 or 1317. The details of his personal life aren’t clear, but his work is as relevant today as ever.

Here’s how a translation of the poem goes:

“The subject tonight is Love

And for tomorrow night as well,

As a matter of fact

I know of no better topic

For us to discuss

Until we all

Die!”

Hafiz wasn’t talking about sentimental romantic love. He was talking politics.

For the most part, we don’t think of love as a serious means of solving complex social problems. But Mohandas K. Gandhi did.

Gandhi believed love is the most powerful force in the universe with the power to heal all social and political as well as personal relationships.

He not only believed it, he demonstrated it.

Others advocated violence to liberate India from British rule. Gandhi took a different approach. He used the power of love.

Even when force was used against the Indian people in their struggle for independence, Gandhi used his influence to promote non-violence. He said an eye for an eye-type thinking makes the whole world blind.

His non-violent approach was used by Martin Luther King Jr. to win civil rights for African Americans in our country.

I interviewed the civil rights leader’s son Martin Luther King III when I worked for a newspaper in Arkansas years ago. A few years earlier in Shreveport, I interviewed the Rev. Harry Blake who mentored under King and was an active member of the civil rights movement. Blake was drug out of his church and beaten by Shreveport police officers during a 1963 rally at Little Union Baptist Church. He was also jailed several times peacefully advocating for civil rights.

It’s hard to imagine the courage it took for these families to stand up for social change the way they did. They made sacrifices out of love for us and for future generations who would live in a more just world than the one they knew.

We’ve all heard King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, but not everyone has heard his “Loving Your Enemies” speech. For me, it is a favorite because it has some rock-solid practical advice for everyday living.

No disrespect intended, but I also find some humor in the way King said Jesus “wasn’t playing” in commanding us to love our enemies.

King said in that speech:

“Far from being the pious injunction of a utopian dreamer, this command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for our enemies.”

Both Gandhi and King spoke of the redemptive power of love.

They said oppressors are damaged human beings and we have the power to heal them. By demonstrating love, even while we are being attacked, we have the opportunity to help these people become more fully human.

We don’t have to have the courage of a Gandhi or a King, but through love we have the power to … fill-in-the-blank. Love is the answer no matter what the category of human problem.

Tom Shadyac, a successful Hollywood director, came to that same conclusion in his documentary film “I Am.”

In the film, he set out to answer two basic questions: “What’s wrong with our world?” and “What can we do about it?”

He was searching for the fundamental endemic problem that causes all of the other problems in the world.

Shadyac visited some of today’s great minds, including authors, poets, teachers, religious leaders and scientists to get answers.

During these conversations, he learned that human compassion and cooperation are intrinsic to our nature as human beings. The problem started when we allowed greed and a mechanistic view of reality to separate us from each other.

In the film, Desmond Tutu said that we have the power to change things using what he called “the power of one.” He said we each can do our part to make a difference for others in our community. In the film he said:

“The sea is only drops of water that have come together.”

In his poetry Hafiz continually stressed the importance of love to bring about positive social change. In “A Great Need” he writes:

“Out

Of a great need

We are all holding hands

And climbing.

Not loving is a letting go.

Listen,

The terrain around here

Is

Far too

Dangerous

For That.”

Lisa Yates is the editor ofGonzales Weekly Citizen. Follow her on Twitter @Lisa_editor.