The purpose of this post is not to chronicle the protests taking place across the United States and, in response, the rest of the world.
The purpose of this post is not an outcry against society or systems. It’s not a tirade against power and authority.
This is a post about love.
I’m rereading Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving, a remarkably rich and very short book on what it means to love in all of its forms. Today I read the following:
The most fundamental kind of love, which underlies all types of love, is brotherly love. By this I means the sense of responsibility, care, respect, knowledge of any other human being, the wish to further his life. . . . If I have developed the capacity for love, then I cannot help loving my brothers. In brotherly love there is the experience of union with all men, of human solidarity, of human at-onement. Brotherly love is based on the experience that we all are one. The differences in talents, intelligence, knowledge are negligible in comparison with the identity of the human core common to all men.
Towards the end of the paragraph, Fromm quotes Simone Weil, whose writing is incredibly vibrant and actually quite apt for this current point in time. In his quotation she writes:
The same words [e.g. a man says to his wife, “I love you”] can be commonplace or extraordinary according to the manner in which they are spoken. And this manner depends on the depth of the region in a man’s being from which they proceed without the will being able to do anything. And by a marvelous agreement they reach the same region in him who hears them. Thus the hearer can discern, if he has any power of discernment, what is the value of the words.
Love is a verb. Verbs are actions. Love that is truly meant on the basis of our humanity and interdependence then requires us to act.
This post is a call to action, a call to doing something beyond what is immediately visible.
Participating in the Women’s March in New York City following the US election of 2016 was an eye-opening moment for me. I watched similar marches around the world. I watched as we were all swept up in solidarity and excitement and a sense that this was our time.
And then I watched as everything continued more or less as usual.
And I asked why. I had raised my voice in an outcry and continued to do so, but with the growing awareness that an outcry is only that. What is needed is action.
Thank you to those standing up for justice. Please do more than stand up. Please act in ways that may not be visible but play into the systems you’re trying to dismantle. If history tells us anything it is that protests are easy to organize, easy to join, and easy to let go. Although perhaps not electrifying, there are far more concrete ways to stand up and actually make the difference you believe in.
There are organizations that need your support to take cases to trial. There are organizations that need your support to provide meals, transportation, shelter, job training, clothing to those who need it. There are organizations that need your support to make laws. There are organizations that need your support to keep the doors to their clinics and offices open so that they can run campaigns to change the balance of power. And on. And on.
Yes, attend a peaceful protest and raise your voice.
And then act on what you say.