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Friday, July 1, 2011

The gift of love

Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, "You owe me." Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky.
- Hafiz of Persia

There are so many dimensions to the word "love" that it is almost impossible to withstand with just a brief statement. The most astounding fact about love is that, while we all are aware of its importance - because most of us are the result of the love between two people - there is a dreadfully amazing deficiency of this gift in the world. The lack of love is not only a problem among human beings, but can also be found between human beings and other living creatures. Abuse, war, hate, and discrimination are just a few of the many ways in which we display our inability to love as often and as freely as we should.

I often see advertisements that solicit donations to keep animal shelters open, or to help a small kid in a poor country to have a chance on a decent life. The very fact that there are animal shelters is evidence of our tendency to abuse those who love us unconditionally, our pets. The very fact that there are orphanages and homes for abandoned and abused children, and that there are chanceless children in the world who lack basics such as food and shelter, proves that we have seriously gone astray somewhere. In almost every part of the world we have become so immersed in our careers and self-realization efforts that we often fail to prioritize those who need our affection and attention until it is too late. Older parents, who once did everything to make us succeed, are simply placed in homes for the elderly and then very rarely visited or simply forgotten.

It is oftentimes only through a shocking experience – a loss that deeply touches us - that we realize the greatness of the gift of love. And until we experience that loss, we seem to remain oblivious of the immense love-famine in our world. Love can be expressed in many simple ways to many people: in fairness, through respect, by listening, with a smile, in a kind word, an unexpected gesture, and by paying attention to those we really care for. Love and happiness are each other's complements: love creates happiness, and happy people are more willing to show love. If, therefore, we share our love more freely and unconditionally, we will have happier families, neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties, countries, continents, and ultimately, a happier world.

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