I know it’s been a shit year for many reasons. 2016 has felt near apocalyptic, what with Brexit, Trump, climate change denialism, and the trend towards right-wing politics. Not to mention the number of deaths in the music industry – with all these legends passing, it’s been a really depressing time.
Leonard Cohen’s death felt particularly significant right after Trump won the election. I listened to his beautiful songs all that day and for the first time since 9/11 (or 11/9 if you’re American) I could actually process the emotion of what happened. It felt like love had lost.
Listening to Cohen’s love songs reminded me of something my mom has always said – “the 60s was the chance the world had” – which always made me feel incredibly nostalgic for an era in which I didn’t live through yet somehow knew deeply. When last did we have a pop hero ask the world to give peace a chance?
The thing is that we all know that love and peace is what the world needs. If I had done a sample of my Facebook timeline the days after he won, I can assure you the majority of posts were about distaste for Trump’s racism and bigotry. I do seriously believe there are more goodies than baddies in the world. But at times like this it feels like the bad guys are gaining ground and their power, which is manifested through fear and control, looks threatening.
A lot of you may be wondering what you can do and I also know the feeling of defeat that comes with seeing your side lose. It is really hard to keep going when things haven’t gone well. But this is the thing that I want to share with you today.
Love is about belief. Love is about faith. To be a loving being is not about having the evidence for why love works or being convinced that love will always win. To truly love is to have faith. It’s about going out on a limb, to set aside doubt, to push forward into the unknown, and to hope for the best. It may sound ludicrous and perhaps it is? It is certainly not for the weak or the cowardly. To love is to be courageous.
Let’s forget the romantic idea of love for a second. Yes there is the love that is a mushy, butterflies-in-the-tummy feeling. But today I’m talking about love as activism, both personally and collectively. I’m talking about looking at your loved ones and actively choosing to love them, in a way that is actually a leap of faith.
Love is a belief system. Love is about choosing to open your heart, to yourself and those around you. Love is about self-compassion. Love is about healing. Love is about choosing peace. Love is about seeing commonality not difference. Love is about inviting someone in. Love is about saying “I don’t know”. Love is about dedicating yourself to the cause, not because you know but because you BELIEVE.
So today, please can you just do one thing for me? Ask yourself if you believe in love.
If your answer is yes then please remember that love is like any belief system. You are the very evidence you need to know why you believe. Your life and your choices are going to dictate how strongly you believe. And when you truly believe, when you put yourself on the line for love, when you show up and do the work and try again and again and again, you will see why we believe. Right now that has to be enough.