The opposite of love isn’t hate. The opposite of love is fear.
Sages and enlightened men and women throughout the ages have encouraged us to embrace this axiom, again and again. Unfortunately, humanity’s usual method for accommodating mystics and messengers is to either disregard or kill them. Since our common era associates this time of year with the birth of Jesus—a man for whose existence there is widespread scholarly agreement, if not historical evidence—I thought to belabor my point with an obvious example.
Recently, I read that the most repeated command in the New Testament is, “Do not fear.” According to what I remember from Sunday School, that’s probably about right. Jesus, I was taught, admonished his followers that there is no fear in love, that love casts out all fear, that fear is nothing and love, everything, and that to consciously indulge in one denies the other. He also said something about the kingdom of God residing within each of us, an obvious allusion to the oneness of all things… but we’ll leave that discussion for another day.
Well. We know how the story ended for Jesus of Nazareth. Because, of course, without fear, there is no authoritarian control of the masses.
Despite my churchy upbringing, I don’t consider Jesus to be the only, nor even the prime, disseminating voice for this piece of advice; neither do I think it the province of religion. To the contrary, religion itself is the main promulgator of fear-based crowd control. Nope. Some of the greatest preceptors on the destructive nature of fear, and our untapped capacity to transmute it into something positive, have come from the secular realm—and from the profane side of the realm, at that. Clearly, for example, comedian Bill “All Governments Are Lying Cocksuckers” Hicks was attempting to teach as well as entertain when he said, “Don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because it’s just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It’s only a choice…a choice, right now, between fear and love.”
See for yourself:
Am I suggesting that someone like Hicks—who was profanely mortal and largely self-destructive—belongs in the same fear-vanquishing, love-espousing category occupied by saints and spiritual leaders the likes of Buddha, Jesus, Paramahansa Yogananda, the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa and Thich Nhat Hanh, to name but a few? Yeah. And I’d be willing to place a sizable bet that they’d say the same. If we don’t want to listen to spiritualists and mystics, perhaps we can take a lesson from a fellow dirt-grubber.
So. As this year draws to a close, its ending stamped by unthinkable, heartbreaking tragedy, I implore you—don’t succumb to fear. Transcend it. Call on the love of Jesus if that’s your MO, but if we want peace, then we have to be peace. If we want a compassionate society that looks after itself and views the global community with love, then we have no choice but to embody compassion and love, ourselves. We can’t expect ecclesiastics to come to our rescue, nor lawmakers to legislate away our own miserable failings. Instead, it’s the work of generations, our work, requiring us to claim ownership and proceed with clear-eyed commitment—and it isn’t going to be easy. Conversely, it’s incredibly simple.
It’s only a choice…a choice, right now, between fear and love.
Just listen to Dino Valenti’s eloquent lyricism, memorialized by the Youngbloods: “Love is but the song we sing, fear’s the way we die.” That’s it. That’s what resonates with me, anyway.
Love, peace and healing to everyone during this naturally quiet and reflective time of Winter Solstice, and throughout the coming years. Peace out, y’all.
About the Author: Teri Wills is nobody special…just an angsty, dirt-worshiping plant whisperer who functions best in the company of horses and barnyard fowl (although currently, and paradoxically, she has neither chickens, geese nor garden). She embraces the Gaia hypothesis, hates wearing eyeglasses, frets over the Oxford comma and labors under the illusion that her words might somehow have an impact on someone, somewhere. Teri deeply regrets not having done more to leave her children and grandchildren a cleaner, greener, more peaceful world, and dreams that her efforts to make up for lost time will bear fruit beyond the wildest imaginings. Her favorite quote is from Isadora Duncan, to wit: You were once wild here. Don’t let them tame you.