Why Love Will Heal the World
By Marcia Sirota MD
Let me explain why love will heal the world. I was just reading this weekend about the likelihood that there will soon be a mass extinction of many animal species.
Scientists are stating that this global devastation is being driven by humans: the result of years of climate change – a problem which we human beings have been denying or ignoring for as long as scientists have been talking about it.
It breaks my heart that we’ll be losing our biodiversity, and it scares me to think of the implications for the planet.
We’re losing our pollinators: the honeybees and songbirds – a result of rampant world-wide pesticide use.
So many of the fruits and veggies we love to eat will no longer be available to us if these creatures die off completely, and the likelihood that they will is great if we keep pretending to ourselves that there’s no problem.
All this terrifies me. I can’t sit by helplessly and do nothing. So I propose a solution. The solution of love. It may sound cheesy or simplistic but in fact, it’s profoundly practical.
If we were to open our hearts to love and feel a real connection with the living creatures on the planet, including our fellow human beings, we couldn’t allow the devastation of species to continue to occur.
Loving each-other, feeling connected to each-other will give us a greater sense of responsibility for one-another.
We should love our friends and family members, of course, but we also need to see that every living creature is a family member and friend to us and that we can’t afford to lose these creatures any more than we can be cavalier about the lives of our human loved ones.
If we felt more love for living beings we’d stop hunting endangered big game for the thrill of the kill. If we felt more connected to other living creatures, we’d pay attention to the way we use and waste our natural resources.
We’d stop using toxic pesticides; we’d limit the use of destructive chemicals, we’d eliminate GMO’s and we’d take the long view when it came to life on the planet.
Love is incompatible with greed, with rampant consumerism, with materialism. Love is synonymous with empathy, altruism and kindness. When we open our hearts to loving others, including the other species on the planet, we feel greater compassion toward every creature who walks, swims or flies on this earth.
Not only will more love save the ecosystem, it will save countless lives, because we’ll get along better with our fellow human beings. Wars, which cause massive destruction of human, animal and plant life, are caused by hatred, greed and the desire for power, dominance and revenge.
With more love, there will be less war. Instead of trying to oppress or imprison others, more love will enable us to understand, forgive and tolerate one-another.
Love will help us turn from compulsive consumers of stuff- meant to fill the void in our hearts where love should be- into global citizens who make a positive contribution to our planet.
Without love, we feel anxious, angry, and empty. We keep going back to the things we believe will soothe our pain and fulfill our deepest needs: more food, drink, drugs, power, possessions, control and influence, but these things leave us more and more unhappy and dissatisfied.
We live in the richest nations and yet we’re the least content. In fact, studies have shown a strong correlation between increased material wealth and property and decreased happiness and inner peace.
If we open our hearts to love, we’ll be filled with a sense of caring and belonging. Instead of constantly yearning for more of these pseudo-solutions to our unhappiness, love can fill us up with what we really need.
Self-love is part of this: when we can love, forgive and accept ourselves more fully we’re less frightened, hostile and defensive; less likely to turn to dysfunctional strategies for self-soothing in the face of cruel self-criticism.
Strangely, the idea of being more loving is terrifying to a lot of people. So many of us would rather do just about anything else other than open our hearts to love. We’re so afraid of emotional vulnerability.
We’ll take any sort of physical or financial risk but when it comes to love, we’re often terrible cowards. We need to see that we’re strong and resilient enough to risk being hurt in love.
We live in a world which doesn’t support the notion of love, which is why our planet is in so much trouble. It’s essential that we put love at the forefront; that we risk being vulnerable and begin to reach out to connect with others. For the sake of our survival, we must recognize our profound kinship with animal life and our responsibility for our ailing planet.
When we open our hearts to love it’s true that we risk feeling more pain. We experience the anguish of loss; we suffer when those we care about are hurting. Still, it’s worth the pain when the love we feel is feeding our deepest needs for meaning, purpose and connection.
We could continue to walk around willfully blind to the ongoing devastation occurring in the world right now; we could continue to emotionally numb ourselves through consumerism, addictions and compulsive self-soothing behavior, or we can choose to wake up and love.
Living with a loving heart isn’t easy. It requires consciousness, responsibility and courage. The essence of compassion is to identify with the feelings of others and to care about them. To have an open heart also means to sometimes have a broken heart, but it’s so much better to experience occasional heartbreak than to face our ultimate destruction.
My ruthless compassion institute promotes the values of love, generosity and accountability, and I’m determined to promote the message that love is the answer for everything that ails us. I invite everyone to get on board with this idea and to spread the message of love, compassion, consciousness and responsibility for ourselves and others.
With love, we can save our planet and save ourselves; we can ensure the survival of our physical beings but also that of our hearts and souls: Love will heal the world.
Marcia Sirota MD Dr. Marcia Sirota is a Toronto-based board certified psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of trauma and addiction, as well as founder of the Ruthless Compassion Institute, whose mandate is to promote the philosophy of Ruthless Compassion and in so doing, improve the lives of people, everywhere.