It occurred to me as I was driving to work this morning that in the world in which I live, it seems like love, passion, and joy are something most of us feel like we can only rarely afford to live and enjoy. For example, most of us (including myself) do work to make a living which does not involve using my best skills and talents to their full potential. I rarely have time to fully relax or move slowly enough to cook and garden without a sense of pressure. I have few friends and when I think about it, I don’t really have any close friends or family besides my son. Although I studied art in school and have done my best to devote myself to art and artful living, I find myself struggling and living as if I were just surviving, trying so hard to create a good life and sound educational foundation for my son so that he can achieve his own dreams.
When I think about the current political and social structure and the values promoted by our culture in the United States, I feel that living from the heart, living artfully and soulfully are aspects of life that the majority of people either put off or feel that they are not practical or achievable. Few of our leaders in business or politics show generosity of heart or spirit. We constantly hear lies spread about our social security system, whose foundation is one of love, community, and solidarity. The wealthiest members of our society are mostly incredibly selfish, refusing to pay their fair share of taxes, to contribute to the greater good. It is well within our means as a nation to create and to promote a more stable and content society in which everyone is given the opportunity to grow in their talents, receive a good education, and provide an enjoyable and culturally rich life for their families.
Although it is said that the United States is the wealthiest country in the world, it is my experience that the United States is in many ways a land of poverty of heart. So many people struggle here on so many levels. How can we call ourselves wealthy when so many children are hungry and don’t have access to decent housing, medical care, or education?How can we call ourselves wealthy when we don’t provide excellent health care for all of our citizens and when so many people are improperly nourished due to toxic food and an excess of toxins in our environment? How can we call ourselves wealthy when so many families are headed by single parents who receive no support from government or community to raise their children?
If our leaders really want others to believe that our land is one of abundance, then they need to open their hearts and share the blessings that they have received. They need to stop taking away benefits from workers and instead reward those who work and give workers peace of mind and heart. We are constantly brainwashed to believe that the wealthy need so much more than we do, and that they don’t need to contribute. Ordinary Americans are treated like the neglected children of narcissistic parents, always manipulated into thinking they must always be strong and have no personal needs. We are brainwashed into thinking that we must always try our best to take care of those who should be taking care of us and to expect nothing in return. We are trained to believe that we should have high self esteem and at the same time to know that we are worthless. Many of our leaders are heartless and self-centered, thinking nothing of our environment, our children, our infrastructures, our health needs, our food system. In a world in which narcissism and greed are the primary values, love is a luxury and a mirage.
If we lived in a culture built upon a foundation of abundant love and generosity, we would have everything that we need and more. Love begins in the heart and the mind, and knowing that we are all worthy of love changes the way we give and receive. In such a world, poverty would disappear, and crime would be greatly reduced as people would begin to understand that their most fundamental need and desire – to be loved and recognized – would be met. The rest follows. Love is not a luxury…or should not be considered as such. We could live in joy every day. We could all be valued and contribute so much to our communities. In a world where love is valued, we could learn to trust one another again. There is so much beauty in this world. We can choose to live our lives as if there is no shortage of love. It is my hope that love is contagious, and that one day, people will recognize that narcissism is a destructive force. One day, the children of a narcissistic culture will choose to heal their own hearts and to love themselves. They will no longer allow their thoughts and lifestyles to be dictated by the voracious and endless needs of those who can never be satisfied. We all deserve to be joyful, and we can all start by loving ourselves and healing our own hearts.