Is it possible to love like a dog? Real, unconditional love even when you are treated badly or neglected or abused? Although the love dogs show towards their owners is beautiful and wonderful, what does it say about us that we often fail to love others as well as dogs love us?
Love is one of the few things we have infinite quantities of and it is one of the three pillars we build our life around. But why are we so stingy with our love if it is infinite? We aren’t so willing to share it and we are quick to take it away when problems arise – coincidentally often making things worse.
Although their cases were extreme, people like Nelson Mandela and Gandhi exemplify what we should all hope to achieve. Mandela languished in jail for 27 years, yet harbored no resentment or animosity for his jailers. Gandhi stared down the mightiest empire in the world and won independence through non-violent means despite his followers and himself being repeatedly beaten and assaulted. Both men’s leadership showed an incredible underlying capacity for love. It’s hard to imagine South Africa and India healing after their great changes without such stoic and love-based leadership.
How does this apply to us?
Though we may not be fighting for independence or for equality, our lives are full of plenty of other monumental struggles. How different would things be if we tried to love a bit more? It really all depends how you choose to view the world. If you are driving and someone knowingly cuts you off, think about how much energy your body spends to get hot and flustered and angry. We instantly want to see who committed this egregious act and think of ways to plot our revenge. But why? Let it go!
I know; easier said than done. But it need not be. Maybe the person cut you off because his or her spouse was just in an accident and is now in the emergency room. Your vendetta and anger would only serve to pour more salt in this person’s already deep wound. And that is how I choose to view the world. I choose to see it full of good people under extraordinary pressures. These people don’t always make the best decisions, but who am I to judge their worth based on an ill-timed traffic maneuver. You never know. Maybe that person is in a rush to get to the hospital because someone you love is injured and needs his or her specialty as soon as possible. Stranger things have happened.
It’s not easy to approach the world with more love and understanding. In fact, it’s extremely difficult. But think about times in your life where you’ve made bad decisions and others were still there to love you unconditionally. This is the kind of person we should strive to become – one who is patient, loving, and understanding. Often we see those who are loving and understanding as being naive or easily taken advantage of. More than likely they know that if they are taken advantage of, then the other person’s guilt will serve as a far greater lesson and punishment than any scolding or admonishment.
We are all on a journey. Some people just want to survive, others want to maximize their experience. I firmly believe that loving others the way your pet dog loves you will enrich your heart and soul. Gandhi said “An eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind.” Think of that the next time you seek revenge. He also said “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Think of that the next time you forgive someone and shower them with unconditional love. Isn’t that the kind of world you’d like to see?
What do you think? Have you ever been undeservingly showered with love, or showered someone undeservingly with love? Please share your story below!