I was babysitting for a 3 year old girl the other day and, after telling her a story and suggesting she close her eyes to go to sleep, she wriggled with the joy of being alive and said:
‘I love…the whole world!’
How many times in each Rainbow Gathering do we hear someone cry out at food circle I love you Family’ to be greeted by a cheer and answering cries of’we love you, too!
I always find myself then possessed to shout back I love some of you!’
Mirroring the loving God of the Judeo-Christian tradition (when He’s not sending people to hell), we have a history of loving saints in the line of Saint Francis who extended their hearts even to the birds. Going further East we have the Boddishatvas who decline final Englightenment and release from the chains of rebirth until every sentient creature might achieve Nirvana. The Tibetan saint, Milarepa, achieved Enlightenment when he removed fleas off a dying dog with his tongue, if my memory serves me correctly…
Universal love would mean loving everyone, including the murderers, the torturers, the rapists, the child abusers and everyone else who uses their power to make others suffer.
So are the Rainbow Gatherings a communion of saints and enlightened mystics, capably of endless compassion? And if instead most of us are just ordinary humans then what does it mean to love someone?
There are many kinds of love – fraternal, platonic, romantic, compassionate and others – yet all would speak of an open-heartedness shining out from the soul of the lover. The question arises: can we love someone we don’t know?
A popular wisdom in the Rainbow is that we can love everyone even if we don’t like them that much. The author Jonathan Franzen in an inspiring address declared that it’s possible to love someone 100% but that there’s no one in this world whom we would entirely like. He was referring to specific love, however. When we declare that we love everyone, unless we’re 3 years old, we’re talking more about how we feel in that moment rather than the objects of our love.
‘Trying to love all of humanity may be a worthy endeavour, but, in a funny kind of way, it keeps the focus on the self, on the self’s moral or spiritual well-being. Whereas to love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggle and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.’
That to me, sounds a lot more like love.