Love in the time of pessimism
To love is to give. More specifically, to give with purpose not agenda.
My Nani believed in this. She believed in this whether things were going great or not so great. I watched her invite people into her home for cups of tea regardless of her financial situation. Somehow it always seemed to work out for her. She always had the answer to people’s needs – from her children to grandchildren to neighbours to strangers. She had a way of sending you on your way with a sense that she had shared something important with you.
The other thing that struck me about her sense of giving was that she never turned anyone away. Even though she was a Muslim woman, she would take the time to hear people’s stories. Jehovah’s Witnesses were especially enthralled by her willingness to have a conversation. No one seemed to phase her.
But her story is not unique. It probably reminds you of your own grandmother or grandfather. Their generation did this sort of thing. They called it community.
Isn’t it funny how we have so many resources to connect to each other but we’re drifting further apart? Slowly building walls and gates around ourselves until we’re impenetrable.
You’re forgiven if you think that it’s necessary. After all, we live in world where we are constantly bombarded with videos and photos of evil triumphing over good. Perhaps our grandparents were lucky in the sense that they weren’t overly exposed to all of the goings on in the world. Wanting to retreat into your nest with only family and close friends isn’t selfish. In fact, it’s necessary to re-charge your batteries.
However, I urge you to peek out once in a while. To have a conversation with a stranger. To read about a culture that you’re unfamiliar with. I urge you to give time to the world. To spend time cultivating a sense of community. To start re-building the networks that once catapulted South Africa into a revolution.
It is clear that the country has lost something along the way. I believe that the thing lost is community. A sense of giving oneself to an impossible dream. Our grandparents, with their limited understanding of this strange land and its inhabitants found their place in humanity and took on the role that they needed to play in order to make things right.
I urge each of us to do the same. To find love for each other in spite of governments or political leaders who spew hateful rhetoric and aim to divide.
Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
We know this to be true because we still remember how people like Nelson Mandela made us feel.
Many of us will never be able to reach the people Mandela did. But each of us has the potential to add to the pool of something greater until it spills over and cleanses us.
Love despite pessimism. Give without agenda. It’s time we take back our communities and find each other again.