All You Need Is Love, according to the Beatles song. What does that mean?
We can't eat love. The sexual version provides a limited amount of exercise, though better if done in bright sunlight so we can absorb UV rays that our bodies can convert to vitamin D. We can't wear it, though love may put a relaxed look on the face of a receiver. We can't buy anything with love.
What can we do with love? Martina McBride sings a song called Love's The Only House Big Enough to Hold All The Pain In The World. It's a good song, but I can't wrap my head around what it could possibly mean.
Can love be everything that is important in life? John Lennon thought so, though he tended to enjoy his drugs (when he wrote the song) so much that we might want to question the value of his judgment.
When we are in pain we do tend to turn to those who love us. But that kind of loving doesn't stick. It's like the bathtub drain loving the feel of water running through it.
Can we ever get enough love that all the pain we might have to endure in life would be dulled or not affect us? Maybe, but I'm thinking of that bathtub again.
Let's see what some famous people have said about love.
"Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it." Martin Luther King Jr.
"Wherever there are jars [shocks in your life], wherever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love." Mohandas K. (The Mahatma) Gandhi
"It's not how much we do but how much love we put in the thing. It's not how much we give but how much love we put in the giving." Mother Teresa
Mr. King, the Mahatma and the Mother were well known for their inspiring speeches. These quotes inspire, but they may be difficult to translate into action.
Let's look at what the recently dubbed richest man in the world has to say. Given that rich people tend to focus more on gaining money than on improving their people skills, we may approach this one with skepticism.
"There's nobody I know who commands the love of others who doesn't feel like a success. And I can't imagine people who aren't loved feel very successful." Warren Buffett
Though Mr. Buffett uses language as we might expect a rich man to use and he has twisted the meaning so it came out backward, I believe he has a more important point to make than the others.
How can we command the love of others? He should have said "have ready access to the love of others." That's what he meant. Love cannot be commanded, in the usual sense of the word.
There is only one way to have access to the love of others without having that unstable bathtub scenario. To get love, we have to give it. That's the kind of love that lasts, that doesn't drain away leaving us empty after the "event."
Despite what some have said, love is not the only thing you have to give away to get more. That's true of most emotions. If we give anger, we will get back anger or fear, for example.
As accepted as this concept of giving in order to get more is among those who know the real value of love, it's not taught to every child.
We assume that every mother loves her children, no matter what. Or we believe that, despite some evidence to the contrary, such as a mother who suffers from severe post partum depression who may seem to want to kill her baby. We assume that every child loves its parents, though evidence is mounting that this is not the case in every family.
These assumptions about love are wrong. Love may be a natural emotion for us, but it has to be taught. If a child does not learn about love in its fullest sense before it's prime learning years are past (by age six, to a lesser extent age 11), then that person will always have a problem giving love as an adult even if he or she learns how to give it and to receive it.
Like an addict who spends the rest of his life "recovering" from his addiction, an adult who learn about love in adolescence or later will have to be regularly reminded about what love is, how to give it and how to receive it.
Our need for love is the part of love that's natural. Knowing how to give it and to receive it in a socially acceptable form is not part of our natural makeup. It must be taught if we want and expect people to know it.
In order for love to be taught to children, their parents must understand how love works before their children are born. Otherwise they may learn to late to teach their kids, then the kids may have problems the parents don't understand and will have no idea how to cope with them.
Given that the rate of divorce in developed countries hovers around the 50 percent mark, meaning that roughly half the couples who have children will separate and half or more of the single mothers and their children will live in poverty, we need to get teaching about love soon. The divorce rate proves that not many newly married couples know about love, even if they do know about romance.
It's all very well to have goals for children of being professionals or corporate CEOs, but if they don't know, understand and appreciate love, they will not have a full life. They could be rich, but not successful at life.
Even the world's richest man knows that. I'll bet Warren Buffett had a very loving mother.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents, grandparents and teachers to learn what kids need in terms of their social and emotional development, including how to love and to receive love.
Learn more at http://billallin.com