Several messages of love have touched and inspired me in 2020 – a year of grief and legitimate outrage. The shocking violence towards Black and brown people, while not new, has shone the spotlight on love and resilience in the face of systemic racism and marginalization and inspired me towards love and cultural humility. My hope for you is that you receive and share this love during this upcoming year.
“We need the eyes of others to form and hold ourselves together,” writes Daniel Stern in The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life (2004). Attachment theory holds that we are all born expecting loving to hold us – and that this need to be safely held, cared for and loved by others endures for our entire lives.
The death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 – an African American man – arrested for possibly having used a counterfeit $20 bill. Handcuffed he died as a police officer knelt on his neck for 9 minutes while Mr Floyd pleaded breathlessly and helplessly for his life.
After George Floyd’s funeral, Harvard professor Cornel West spoke eloquently and passionately about love: “White America ought to give Black people a standing ovation for teaching the world about love – after 400 years of being terrorized – and oppressed – we refuse to create a black version of the Ku Klux Klan. After 400 years of being traumatized – we want to dish out healers. We are warriors of love.…You can put us down – but you’re not going to put us down in such a way that we’re going to hate you.” Later, “We got a love the world can’t take away.” And when the interviewer teared up at his words, West added: “We’re in it together brother. We cry because we care. Socrates never cried. … but Jesus cried. We cry. We cry because we care.”
Last July, John Lewis, a current-day civil rights leader who had been beaten and imprisoned for his civil rights work, and whom I admired greatly, died of pancreatic cancer. I cherished the power of love and leadership I could feel in the depth of his presence and could hear in his voice while he spoke – or while he sat in protest singing, We shall overcome. While his body lay in state in the Capitol, a recording of his resonant powerful voice was played, saying, “Be bold. be courageous. We all live in the same house! Let us have dignity for all humankind! Never become hostile! Never hate! Live in peace! We are One. One people and one love.”
This love is a love infused with righteous anger. John Lewis called it “Good Trouble” – love mixed with the kind of anger that sees and takes action against injustice. One of the speakers at John Lewis’ funeral spoke of how he lived his faith, saying, “His faith was deep in his soul. He knew how to turn the lights on in other people.”
In August 23, 2020 – Jacob Blake – a young, unarmed African American man was shot 7 times in the back in front of his young children, in Kinosha, Wisconsin. At a protest following this senseless shooting, his uncle spoke and I was amazed to hear him speak of love, when he had every right to be filled with hatred! I heard something similar as well from his mother: “White people, we love you,” his uncle said. “But until you put on this brown suit, you’ll never know what it’s like to live in fear.” Again – my heart swelled with a mix of amazement, love, admiration and righteous anger!
Lastly, Bishop Michael Curry, the first African American to serve as bishop of The Episcopal Church – published a new book this year, entitled Love is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times. In it he writes:
“We are in a time of planetary crisis. The future of the earth we all live on is at stake. To do everything we can to save the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land on which we live, and the very earth that is our common home is no longer an academic consideration. It’s now life-and-death.”
He continues, and reminds the reader of the African slave spiritual with the lyrics, “There’s plenty good room,
Plenty good room,
Plenty good room in my Father’s kingdom;
Plenty good room,
Plenty good room,
Choose your seat and sit down.”
Curry writes, “I have faith in God. I also have faith in us. We can get this right. The world has changed before, and it can change again, for the better. … we shall overcome, not for ourselves alone, but for the entire human family….We can find peace and joy in our hearts …. even as we carry on the struggle for a humane, just, and peaceful world ruled by love.”
With gratitude for all these words, I feel confident to say that we have good reason to celebrate joy, love, and hope as this year begins anew! I send kind wishes of all this for you and your loved ones!