Why We Should Love Unconditionally
Part 8 of a Series on Learning to Love Unconditionally
There are a number of obstacles to loving unconditionally, as we discussed last month. To work on unconditional love, we need some good reasons to do so. I’ll outline a few; you can undoubtedly add some others.
Unconditional love may make the difference between human survival and human extinction. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was convinced that unconditional love for all people is an absolute necessity for the survival of humanity. This makes even more sense today than when he wrote this 50 years ago. Global climate change, with rising temperatures and sea levels and the predicted widespread epidemics and mass migrations, poses an enormous threat to people in every country and of every race, culture, religion and political persuasion.
Dr. King mentioned that it’s historically been felt that self-preservation is the first law of life. He disputed this, saying that other preservation is the first law of life. Unless we shift rapidly from trying to defeat other nations and peoples militarily and/or economically and come together to work for our mutual, interrelated survival, we’ll face increasingly insurmountable problems. Learning to regard others as part of the human family and developing the capacity to see enemies as potential allies is essential. We now have both a pressing need and the opportunity to rally for our common survival.
Unconditional love can cast out fear. According to Thomas Merton, a Benedictine monk, “The root of all war is fear.” Unconditional love reduces fear in the person who extends love and also in the recipient. Mutual fear reduction makes the amicable resolution of conflicts more likely.
Unconditional love may serve as an effective antidote to addictions, aggression, and suicide. It provides a sense of belonging and deep human connection we all need.
Unconditional love enables people to change. It fosters the feeling of safety people need to alter their beliefs and habits and to explore new ways of being and living in the community.
Unconditional love can transform adversaries and enemies into friends and allies. Hate begets hate, makes people angry, produces defensiveness, and locks people into perpetual conflict. Love releases human potential and generates hope and optimism.
Unconditional love heals the spirit. Holding onto grudges and refusing to forgive leaves us angry, embittered, estranged, in despair, and distorts the personality, often causing mental and even physical harm to the person who harbors the enmity. Meanwhile, it does little harm to the person we fear, despise or hate.
Unconditional love is the foundation for the peaceful community. It encourages forgiveness, holds people to a higher standard of behavior by offering the benefits of acceptance and security, and promotes unity.
Unconditional love doesn’t have to be practiced 100% of the time to make an impact. We’ve become so accustomed to loving conditionally that it will take a concerted effort and mutual reinforcement to nurture our capacity for unconditional love. We’ll make mistakes and fall short, but our efforts will not be in vain.
What are some of the “how to’s” of loving unconditionally? We’ll look at them next month.
Meanwhile, please write with your thoughts and questions about this series. Have you found it useful? Do you have suggestions for issues or topics to address? Do you have stories to share about loving unconditionally? Shall we continue the series?
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