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Politics

THE POLITICS OF LOVE

Lost in the noise and clamor of our politically polarized nation is the notion of love, that most basic human concept and the main ingredient of what we like to call our humanity. Love for others was one of the prime factors in the creation of this place called the United States of America. Would anyone claim that “All men are created equal” if they did not have love in their hearts?

The claiming of inalienable human rights for every citizen is a statement that all human beings are worthy of dignity, freedom, opportunity, respect, and love. When you include “the pursuit of happiness” as a main point in your first Declaration, there’s no denying the love and humanity of our Founding Fathers.

The rights to free speech, freedom of assembly, a free press and freedom of religion apply to all Americans, rights we are all exercising like crazy lately, telling one another how wrong they are and where to get off. Many of us are even attacking the patriotism of those who disagree with our politics, the act of a scoundrel with no ideas and one unworthy of our heritage of love.

Like we do today, our Founding Fathers had their fair share of knock-down, drag-out fights over what it means to be American, but never questioned the motives of their opponents, only their correctness. That’s love. The founders of America came from many different backgrounds and brought vastly differing life experiences and world views to the negotiating table when it was time to decide what sort of nation America would be.

There were strong central government advocates, weak central government advocates, those who would split the colonies into several nations, and those who would erase the boundaries of the various states. There were limited monarchists, parliamentarians and those who only wanted a different relationship with Britain, sort of like what would become the British Commonwealth system.

All were heard from and all ideas considered by the framers of the U.S. Constitution, taking their cue from Voltaire when he declared: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend unto death your right to say it.” From the very beginning of America all men were accorded dignity, respect and the right to their own minds. Only love is strong enough to transcend differences of opinion, either on a personal level or in the political arena.

Which is not to say that our Founding Fathers or their Constitution were perfect. They themselves recognized this by including a process on how to correct their mistakes by amending the Constitution. And amend it we did, redressing the disenfranchisement of slaves, Native Americans, women and those who did not own land. They designed this country to expand its love and humanity, never to limit or narrow it.

This broad umbrella of freedom attracted immigrants from everywhere on earth, not for some nebulous dream of streets paved with gold, but just for a chance to live and work as an integral part of society, not as a vassal or second-class citizen. Once here, our melting pot made for some strange bedfellows, with ideas from all over the world bumping up against one another and competing for our ears, but no one was killed or imprisoned for their words or beliefs. Love doesn’t roll that way.

People everywhere get into arguments, we rub each other the wrong way, we try to convince the other guy we are right. It doesn’t always work out, like with the Civil War that America had to endure to finally erase the stain of slavery from our young democracy. What is war but our failure to embrace love, a breakdown of our human decency? Love is the basis for passing laws that benefit people, whether to expand their civil rights, to provide health care for the elderly or to allow every voice to be heard in the voting booth.

Love is why we require that every child receives an education and immunization against disease, and why every worker benefits from Social Security in their twilight years. Love does not abandon people to cruel fate. Love is what allows the peaceful transition of power every four or eight years, with no exceptions in our 234 year history. Love is okay with another person being a conservative, or a liberal, or a member of a different religious faith or a seemingly exotic ethnic background.

After all, if someone seems exotic to you, then the reverse must be true and it is you who seems strange to them. The simple truth that love teaches us is that none of that matters very much when respect, honor and dignity are mutually granted. Love may agree to disagree, but love is never tempted to kill, injure or imprison another human being for frivolous reasons.

The Politics of Love is as simple as the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Unless you enjoy being condemned and attacked, odds are you won’t do that to the other guy. Like the song says: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” We need love in our hearts, in our lives and in our politics. Hatred, rage and warfare are beneath us. Let us not be afraid to speak of love in our political affairs. We need it.

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