By Sarah Haug
“Let us have love and more love.”
This quote is from the Baha’i Writings, but all the religions of the world are united around the concept of love. Love provides some of the strongest evidence for the existence of a spiritual world in that, by transcending physical existence, it has the power and potential to transform not only a human being but every human being.
Love drives human behavior at its most basic. Studies have shown that humans raised without love founder and die. And yet, love remains hopelessly undefined, and it doesn’t really help to say that those of us who have loved or been loved know it when we see it. “Love is patient, love is kind”; “a mother’s love”; even “tough love” all describe a concept that is tangible and intangible at one and the same time.
The result of love, on the other hand, is plain for all to see. It is hard to find a single aspect of human existence that isn’t augmented by the presence of love—or isn’t made worse by its absence.
Love embodies positive virtues and values such as compassion, empathy, caring, service—and the very concept of “good”. Negative attributes such as hatred, greed, and envy are devoid of love. Often, it isn’t even that the people consumed by the latter are without love, but rather that they deliberately deny love for others and suppress it within themselves in order to pursue their own desires. Or maybe, even more, their love of themselves eclipses their love of others.
What would the world be like without love? I submit that the less we love, the more our lives resemble that of the lowest of creatures, pursuing our wants and desires to the exclusion of all else. Humans might not be unique in our ability to love, but the choice to love, and to meet hate with love, definitely is. That isn’t even to say we shouldn’t stand up to, defend against, or counter evil. It’s just that we shouldn’t do it out of a need for revenge or hate. We should do it because we love, and we recognize the harm a lack of love does to those who act without it.
One might even say that true triumph over evil cannot be accomplished without love.
To continue the quote: “Let us have love and more love, a love that melts all opposition, that sweeps away all barriers, that conquers all foes, a love that aboundeth in charity, large-heartedness, tolerance, and noble striving, a love that triumphs over all obstacles … Hast thou love? Then thy power is irresistible [and] … all the stars will sing thy praise.”